This was my Christmas 2021 post.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

I always liked Christmas. It had to do with growing up in a Hindu family in a Christian village. Religion was up, close & intrusive as it is in India. But Christianity began with school prayers & ended with cake & Santa Claus in December. Even years later, after I found my beliefs & the strength to push back against the oppression laid on them everyday, I still liked Christmas. I’d go to midnight mass (and I remember when midnight mass happened at midnight in Mumbai). I’d even make it to my old neighborhood & the school church.

Reconnections with the people I grew up with, have gone bad. The bullies grew up into dysfunctional abusers. The cowards morphed into petty trolls. With a breaking heart, I’ve severed my connection with them. I’m not a person who finds room there anymore. It took a pandemic for me to realise a place is just a geography & history is a story. My fondness & vivid experiences are mine to treasure or lock away. And no one can erase those.

The pandemic has been so much harder than anything I could’ve imagined. I’m at the most probable midway mark of my life. It feels like a good time to ponder the meaning of Christmas spirit. To hold even the cynicism of a Coca-Cola Santa. To carry the wounds of a religion-poisoned nation. To bear scars of a toxic childhood place. To bear witness to who I am through that, under that, because of that and despite that.

I’ve been pondering hope (because what else is there to do in 2021, having survived & now looking for a reason to continue surviving?) I see the stoop of my shoulders & the weight of fears glued to my body in places they never were before. I’ve always been scared but I’ve never been stopped by fear before. Now, it’s an effort to get dressed, a gargantuan task to get out of the house, a terrifying ordeal to go somewhere I haven’t been in two years. Even if it’s just a mithai shop.

The shops are lit, the ones still in business anyway. Outside a hospital run by right-leaning professionals, a forlorn plastic tree stands. We all need hope. And maybe that includes discarding all that went before, all we’ve been.

All is silent, all is bright.

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