Rosalyn D'Mello: Let's make this the year of humanity

Dec 29, 2017, 06:16 IST | Rosalyn D'Mello

We must continue to dissent, resist, protest, but must also allow scope for forgiveness, when it is called for, and humility

Representation pic/Thinkstock
Representation pic/Thinkstock

My godchild, Lyle, suggested I mention him in my column. He wanted to be identified as "an eight-year-old boy, in grade three, who has a great mind." As I write this, he is restlessly working the rocking chair in our home in Goa. His nervous energy is palpable. He is, in fact, waiting, as he sips on his tea. He is waiting for me to finish this column, because I promised to take him to Margao to buy him a watch as a Christmas gift. I'm not sure he even knows precisely how to read time. But I loved that he specifically asked for a watch. And, of course, I'm a sucker for metaphor. What better way to end the year than with a meditation on reading time?

The year's passing was accelerated by such intense travelling, and yet, it was speckled by many moments of spectacular pause. Last evening, as I was heading to the restroom of Roger's, a shack on Benaulim beach, I thought of a similar moment on Paradise Beach with Tsohil in January. The sun had set and there was an indigo darkness that had taken over the sky. The entrance to the loo was blocked by a sentinel tree frog. I remember its red eyes gaping at me. I haven't spoken to Tsohil in months, ever since he left for the US on an amazing MFA scholarship programme. But I thought of him last night when I thought of the tree frog. He was one of those gifts the universe hands you. Just like it did me Nikhil Chopra, who ensured my year began with opportunities for both solitude and fructifying collaboration by offering me a residency at the HH Arts Spaces, where Tsohil was co-resident. Last night was also spent under the stars with my sister and Turkish friend, Asli Cavusoglu, whom I met and befriended at the Khoj International Artists' Residency and who was responsible for my adventurous visit to Europe and Turkey in June. She, and my friend Julien, who had invited me to visit him at his cabin in the South of France, are here in Goa and we will ring in the New Year together. How momentous and fortuitous, I think, even as I busy myself with family ahead of my sister's wedding. I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my best friend, Mona, on January 1. She has been the source of so much strength and joy for me over the years and I love the thought of having her with me as we embark on 2018.

I've already resolved to emotionally investing even more time and energy in my friendships, particularly those that further the cause of the feminist sisterhood. What is the point of anything if one doesn't have at the end all those opportunities for laughter and togetherness, for meaningful conversation and even collective mourning? For, let us not forget that this year also began with Trump being crowned President of a superpower, and the year also saw great treachery on part of the powers that be in India that undermined the electoral processes that is the foundation of our claim to democracy. It's difficult to be in Goa and forget how its voters were betrayed, how they have had to compromise with a government they clearly didn't elect. Two more years until the next defining general elections and everything looks quite grim. A woman journalist was beaten up in Mumbai, a woman journalist and newspaper editor, Gauri Lankesh was killed in broad daylight outside her homeā€¦ I'm too afraid to even go over the year's other morbid highlights, not to mention the gruesome Rohingya crisis and the status of Syrian refugees, especially children, around the world.

At the (pre-)midnight mass on Christmas Eve, as the priest rattled off a pre-written sermon from a circular, I thought about what it means to be spiritual in times like these. I wondered if I was being too cynical about the state of the world, the ecological disasters we have caused and the still-impending effects of climate change that have ensured future generations an unliveable world. What if this was actually a defining moment, an opportunity for us to start to practice our humanity?

I don't have easy answers. I don't know what to tell my godchild about the world he inhabits. I am certain only of this much, that we must continue to dissent, resist, protest. We must also allow scope for forgiveness, when it is called for, and humility. Time will tell how events unfold and whether we can undo some of the damage we've all been complicit in causing in the recent past. What is imperative is that we live our lives such that we stand at our reckoning on the right side of history. May the future be suitably feminist! Happy 2018!

Deliberating on the life and times of Everywoman, Rosalyn D'Mello is a reputable art critic and the author of A Handbook For My Lover. She tweets @RosaParx. Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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