The last week of 2016 found me sobbing on a pillow. I was desperate for some sort of change in my life. Nine months of freelancing from home had left me discontent and miserable. I had become a slob, and dessert seemed to be the highlight of most of my days. I felt like I had nothing to look forward to.
That night, the husband convinced me otherwise. He promised that 2017 would be special. That it would be kinder to us, that we’d find renewed meaning to our lives and that I’d find a fulltime job I likelove soon.
The last was the first to fall in place. For a large part of December, I was secretly stalking a new website. Multiple times a day. Only to check if they were hiring. The husband had nudged me towards it; a subscription-driven website for business journalism. And I wanted to be a part of it. Except when I had applied upon finally seeing a vacancy, I was disappointed because I wasn’t the right fit.
However, a stray tweet soliciting work caught someone’s attention there and we started chatting. To join the newsroom was one of the quickest decisions I made, and I was eager to start. I was beginning to like 2017.
Copy editing at The Ken was immensely fulfilling. It was close to home, I liked the work (I was mostly left alone with words all day) and I was able to put in those hours. I felt privileged. And I think I was good at what I did.
I missed the freedom and spontaneity of a freelancer’s life. But I loved the high of working with words and cleaning up the copy, readying it for publishing. It was fascinating to see a story evolve from an idea to its final copy. I had fun on most days. It was my first time at an early-age startup, and I experienced first-hand the ‘passion’ that most people wax eloquent about. Intense debates, fiery tempers and fragile egos, all formed part of my learning curve.
Did I ever whine and complain? Sure, I did, as with so many other things in life. I also spent very many nights awake, oscillating between self-doubt and feeling smug. The husband patiently watched all this from the sidelines, with amusement.
Leaving The Ken was a bitter pill. I had decided to do so in a snap but it took me a while to come to terms with it. It was a short stint (I was just beginning to feel at home) but one that pushed me to excel at my craft, in terms of time, skill and effort. I was leaving for a more rewarding phase of my life. I am extremely grateful for both; but it stung and smarted and irked that I wasn’t able to have it all. That somewhere along the way I had failed because I chose one life over another.
Today, a few months later, The Ken is a distant memory. Our subscriptions ended earlier this year, and we chose not to renew. I needed to let go. To be honest, we also don’t have the time. But every once in a while, on a rough day, I allow myself the luxury of dipping into their morning emails. To remind myself that this is what fired me up a year ago!
2017 was special, in more ways than one. And my time at The Ken was one of its high points.
It read like a regular engagement invite. Time, venue, directions, et al. And I had vaguely heard about their relationship. They had been introduced to each other on Twitter by a well-meaning friend. And it had been a long-distance relationship for the last few months. She and I bonded over words. He and I were acquaintances at best.
The sun and the clouds played hide and seek that afternoon. Alternating between powerful bouts of sunshine and a gentle soothing breeze. It was a small, intimate gathering (later I remarked to the husband that I was overwhelmed that they counted us among their closest set of friends). But both sets of parents were conspicuous by their absence. A fact that nagged me the entire time.
When the couple took centre stage, after a flurry of photographs, both candid and posed, it was refreshing to see just the two of them. Standing next to each other. Alone, but together. Just like their days to come would be. One for the other. There were some awkward pauses with the microphone in hand. But they led each other by instinct. Conviction. And hope.
They exchanged rings with wide smiles on their faces. They showed off the rings like they had been rehearsing for that very moment all their lives. And they let the emotions flow. She spoke of how “normal” her fiancé is, perhaps his most endearing trait. And he acknowledged her planning skills. They sang for each other, full-throated. Oblivious that they had an audience. And both reiterated that the simplicity, intimacy and informality was a conscious decision.
It was a brave, bold thing to do. I had dreamt of an engagement ceremony just like this. But I had lacked the conviction and strength to push for it. And that Saturday afternoon showed me what I had missed. It was a subtle reminder of what I should have stood up for.
I left the venue feeling bittersweet. In awe of their courage. And a little disappointed by the lack of my own. But I knew that change was on its way. In the tiny leaps of faith, I saw that afternoon.
About 10 days ago, the mother requested me to send her an old phone of mine via courier. Hers was about to conk off and she needed a replacement urgently. She uttered the word, “courier” and then corrected herself in an instant. “How about we try to find someone travelling from Bangalore to Bombay, via Twitter?” she asked. I offered to ask around and let her know.
Ten minutes later, I sent out a tweet to the universe requesting help. And the RTs came pouring in (64, at last count)! Soon I was flooded with DMs offering help, replete with travel dates, details of where I need to drop it off and the location the folks would need to collect it from. I just had to make a choice. Mostly the location in Bombay was being a bit of a bother. But not one person declined.
One kind soul asked me, “How will you assess if the person is trustworthy? Conduct an online background check?” I replied, “Faith! It’s either that or having to rely on a courier agency. He agreed with me.
We did the round of some courier agencies as well. But were a little reluctant to use their services. So we decided to wait it out. For someone who was travelling to Bombay, and in an area close to home, to make it easier for the parents to collect the phone.
I sent out a prayer to the universe and forgot all about it. At least pretended to. And then landed a DM in the inbox, referencing a location just a 10 minute walk away from home. That sealed it! I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
He offered to play courier and a little over 24 hours later, the phone was home.
That night, I went to bed extremely grateful and content with the world. My hostility with the world could rest a bit!
Speaketh a father’s wisdom.
Until a few years ago, on most weekdays after we’ve dined and shut the kitchen for the day, we made a dash for the telly in the bedroom. There would be the customary fight for the cushions and pillows but with a prior unspoken arrangement between us, we always settled down in our pre-designated spots.
Over the years, the telly got relegated into the background and gadgets ensconced themselves in our lives. We now plonk ourselves in the armchairs in the living room, each with a separate gadget, catching up on the happenings of the day and the latest tweets. We only look up from our screens to share some humor from our timelines or relate funny anecdotes or stories. Everything else hampers reading and is, therefore, an intrusion. And the mother threatens to wear ear plugs or leave the room.
Last week, on one such cozy evening, I learnt via my Twitter timeline that three of the five suspects accused in the horrific Delhi gang rape case would plead “not guilty” to all the charges. I felt disgusted, betrayed and let down. I yelled out the contents of the tweet to the folks. The mother was taken aback too but she kept quiet; the father remained unfazed….Continue reading
*First published on Parentous.