I wrote this on 23 April 2014. It was in my drafts and for some reason I did not publish it then… never underestimate the power of manifestation.

Seventy seven pages of heartrending stories. Of physical and emotional abuse. Of women who were not allowed to visit their dying child or parent. Of unkept contracts and dreams that dissipate. Of a government that fails to recognise the distress of the victims. And worst of all, the inhumanity of our kind. The victims maybe known to you. The perpetrators could well be you, your family or friend. It is us.

The report Amnesty released in the wee hours today is not for the faint of heart. But keep in mind, they interviewed just 52 of tens of thousands of workers.

It was a bitter-sweet realisation to find one of my earlier blog posts quoted in the document. As is the wont of the self-obsessed, I managed to find myself in the throes of self-pity – a punch in the gut: “That’s all? That’s what you have to show?”

A lot of small realisations are coming together for me at this point. I am not really doing what I want to do. I am not telling the kind of stories I know best to recount. I am no longer the reporter of human interest stories that I aspired to be 20 years ago. I appease my guilt with an occasional post or a story; but I’ve moved too far from that sense of purpose I held dear.

The girl who sat wide-eyed listening to safe sex advice from mothers at a creche for children of sex workers is now wondering why she is now paralysed by the profitability concerns of her employer.

Where’s that person who spent hours outside a ward in Madras Children’s Hospital to meet two under-aged maids who were beaten and burnt brutally. What happened to the Qatar newbie who sneaked into the paediatric wing of Hamad Hospital to speak to a little boy who fell off a camel at the races? She is now burying her head in matters that she thought was the route to success and wealth.

How wrong I was in thinking that. How wrong. It’s the bloody revenues and budgets that have lost me sleep for months now*.

Regrets are useless. Reflection is useful. Is this who I wanted to be? Conceiving communication strategy for corporates I don’t care about and struggling to keep press releases clear of the one job that gives me some amount of joy and satisfaction?

But bills have to be paid, no? The household has to run, yes? Now, it’s time to choose what’s worth billing. And to learn to run with simplicity. End of the day, what could possibly be worth paying for with your dreams? The shiny red machine I drive? Working in a fancy glass tomb? Measuring up to other people’s standards of good living?

Tough decisions all around. Good ones as well, I hope.


*Which I hope to be rid of come May 1.


One part of Adel Abdessemed exhibit in Mathaf, in 2013