Every year my privileges get starker, and my gratitude deeper.
This decade began on an indifferent note. My personal life had more downs than I could manage. I was questioning my relevance in a job I loved and the publishing group I helped build. Then I decided to take a risky jump away from my comfort zone; I was tested, I was rewarded, I was supported and I was tested some more before being thrown into another whirlpool of uncertainties.
That’s when I realised, in 2014, what an incredibly lucky life I had. And the less I held on to my fears, the luckier I got. I made big shifts – countries and jobs (and in a way my career itself), but most critically, a shift in my perception of success. Not that I had a set-in-stone definition before, I loved what I did and that was success enough. It’s just that now, the measure of a good day’s work was mine own to make. There were no external barometers. Every word I wrote for work meant something to someone and had the potential to change a life; Every time I picked up the phone or wrote an email, even if I could not resolve an issue, I could make those few moments or days better for someone who may not otherwise be heard… it has been both a burden and a privilege to be trusted with their worries and problems.
The last couple of years have taken me away from home more often than either my children nor I wished, but my girls have been my champions. I see them as the anti-horcrux. The best of me is embedded in them.
I would have said this decade is ending on a good note (even a GREAT one) if it were about my life alone. But it isn’t… as I write the post, there’s unease in the pit of my stomach. After 17 years away, I moved to India. I cannot say I moved back… because this is not the country I left in 1999.
I am political. Have always been. And I know of no other way to live. The PERSONAL IS POLITICAL. I am keenly aware that the privileges I enjoy came on the backs of those who fought for it before me. I see the freedoms I enjoy being eroded a little bit today, and being taken away in large chunks from those who are marginalised by gender, religion and caste. Staying quiet now would be unforgivable.
The languages I speak, the passport I hold, the way I look, the food I love, the drapes I don, the people I care for are all tied to this country. Hence, what happens on its streets is personal to me.
Hope 2020 is kinder to all of us, and more importantly, teaches us to be kinder to others.