Saturday, November 16, 2013

Letters of a reluctant mug (to young daughter)

Dear young daughter,

I started a journal in 2013 eagerly awaiting the Mayan apocalypse (as you may now affably remember). But, such was the anticlimax of ordinary life that continued ever so peacefully, the journal seems rather gleefully suicidal. I have decided to write you a fresh set of learnings from my (yet quite) young life. These letters are convenient for me for a reason that they are not burdened by historicity and may come to your rescue if you should unwittingly inherit my cynicism. You should consider this letter as the middle act of a film that will never end. In any case, I won't know the ending. Just as I unburden myself and pass it on to you, I apologize for so viscous blue a shade of confusion that you didn't sign up for and I must explain why - because my life as is unfolding against the backdrop of larger, intensely frustrating battles of trust, humanity, politics, bodies, religion and more is posing some of the toughest choices I've made so far. A few decades later, hopefully you can tell me if this is relevant to you, I may feel less lonely (and will write to Sylvia Plath that her premature death was unnecessary).

I am already exhausted and my troubles already seem petty but I must continue. As you know, I've chosen academia as my occupation. I lay in bed at night and close my eyes hoping I manage to reach all deadlines. Gradually, as I get drowsier, I feel a strange pressure at the roots of my hair, a feeling that they are greying. I wake up in the morning to check. I am surrounded by a lot of people who "matter", people fighting the right fights, some making art and others lobbying with governments to change laws. I am afraid I've gotten too close to the process of making change (blame it on the unprecedented media proliferation) and hence grown wary of the means they use. Just the other day I took up a rant with A, "are you all playing the gallery? Whose change is it anyway?" Let me explain, there is a deep eagerness to publish, congregate and say. I am not surrounded by academics at this point who would think thrice, dissect an opinion and lay bare their own complicity. I am not surrounded by fellow reluctant mugs, it's the time to say things confidently because there is little consequence and no sanctity. I am no purist, but anything goes - nothing scandalizes, nor are there any limits to how many times you can repeat an idea. I hope you inherit my hesitation and value silence as a virtue. Nothing says I love you more than listening to someone in rapt attention.

There is more, but right now I have work, studies, backache and a conference call.

[To be continued...]

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