After my recent essay, “Why I Left India (Again)“, a nice gentleman on Twitter said he’d hunt me down in the U.S. While I wait for him, I thought I’d jot down a few final words.
First off, as the author—or should I say, survivor—of a personal essay about my experiences in India, I have some advice for other writers: don’t. But if you must, avoid using italics. Not that it would have mattered.
I see my essay as just one among the 250+ comments that follow it. Many of the comments are thought-provoking; others make my post look awesome in comparison. There is also a quora page, a reddit page, a parody and a psychoanalysis. The diversity of viewpoints is stunning. The comments section of my post has also become a fertile hunting ground for the “patriots”; the government should declare it a protected habitat.
The patriots can put down their Trishools; I don’t blame India, I blame my inability to handle the internalized stress that comes not only from being immersed in a society with so much poverty, but also in a culture that largely accepts the status quo.
One commenter on Quora said (about my post): “… by writing a blog on the NYT, I think it is implied that everyone will feel this way.” I can only hope that the NYT never publishes a personal essay titled, “Why I Dropped Out Of College.”
I am happy that so many feel India makes them more empathetic and connected with the real world. I had a different, less noble reaction—I was learning, like so many who walk past the invisible beggar every day, to plug in my earphones and tune out of reality.
Sometimes you fight, sometimes you watch, and sometimes you are the status quo you wish to destroy.
The other responses to my post are profound; it will take me a long time to digest them. But, and this was a common criticism, I’m taking an “easy route”; I’ve recruited my wife to help me understand them.
The harshest attacks came from those who took my personal story as a negative commentary on India—something that needed to be rebutted, ridiculed or ideally, silenced. My reaction to being told to shut up is to speak out, and so to commenter #2, who said, “Thanks for leaving! Your presence in India was of an UNWANTED guest,” I wish to say: Happy Diwali.
Someone’s at the door.