I Walk Alone (First published in Hypertext, 2021) I walk alone on the street. Sometimes Durga, sometimes Mary, Sometimes just me, myself — Do I have the right to choose? Beyond the reaches of the veil, The purdah that covers my gait, Beyond the reaches of a man, Of a support, of a claim — Do I have the right to choose? Can I sing to any God I like? Can I live my life on my own terms? Can I walk out to the hills, Take a plunge in the river And retain my honour? Will You cherish me if from a Wanton, I want to become A wife? Will you accept me? A woman of many lives, I have been a warrior, a mother, An astronaut, a leader — And yet you label me as a half, A half who needs support, why? I am also Durga, Mary, Fatima. In my womb, gestates mankind, life.
As the last hours fade into darkness, waiting for the world to wake up to the dawn of 2022, a sense of optimism fills my being. What will the dawn of the new year bring? What will it be like?
However awful the past, however sad have been our losses, each year moves forward towards a new time we know nothing about. Not knowing can be seen as frightening or as hopeful. I choose to be with the latter. The current trends show that the virus might turn benign. Slowly and perhaps, warily, we will start taking baby steps towards a new normal.
While we mourn the past, we continue to move forward to live in the present. The future unfurls out of the present. Our actions now will define the world for posterity. Will we survive creating new norms where we will adapt to live, perhaps, on the ocean?
Happy New Year 🎉 The moment of magic starts as the old turns to new, a poem slips out of words exploding like fireworks at midnight as we wait sleepy-eyed for the golden dawn of the first morn of the year. The day gives life to yet another fresh-born, washed clean by the downpour that accompanied the birth. How much hope each infant brings! How much hope each new-fledged year weaves!
The day has dawned bright and clear. I am convinced this year will unfold with much goodwill and string the world together with hope and happiness. I can hear birdsongs from the trees outside my home. The river runs turbid from last night’s rain but it will clear as the mud settles just as I hope the pandemic calms to an endemic this year.
Earlier barbarism was an accepted way of life. We moved from that to a more humanist stance. At this point, we can hope that people who faced violations and violence due to political upheaves in the past, will rise like a tide to move into better times. Climate change to an extent will force us to take steps to live in harmony with the planet. Then, there will be those who, over time, will find ways to extend our frontiers into outer-space and create new biomes for humankind making it cost effective enough over time to make it affordable for all.
The rains and storms will continue to come and go as will the changes that dot civilisations’ development over the years. The word future itself hovers in uncertainties and fills one with dreams that stretch out unfurling a plethora of images. It is for us to pick the scenarios we favour and move towards those. If selling dread brings money, selling hope brings good cheer and happiness.
Let us choose and choose wisely so that we can leave a better world for posterity.
New year is the time to make resolutions. We have a fresh chance. Let’s swing it beyond just carpe diem and give the future a gift of goodwill.
Happy New Year — 2022!
— Mitali Chakravarty