The island of Koh Rong and 2017 : wrapping the year up.


On the first day of 2017, I was in Sihanoukville with my mother – it was also my birthday – and I suggested that we make a day trip to the island of Koh Rong. We took a tuk-tuk from our hotel and went to the port. Of course, everything was booked, but we finally somehow managed to find one large boat that would take us to the island. We bought the tickets, they were not expensive, and we started to wait on the port – the boat, we were told, was only an hour away. Sitting on the port, I started staring at the ocean and imagined that the water was time on which the world was floating : the idea was not mine, the elements of it were borrowed from the ancient Hindu concept of Purush and Prakriti. One hour turned into many, and as we waited, we realized that the boat would probably never arrive.

Perhaps it was synchronicity, perhaps it was something else, but the first day of 2017 foreshadowed the rest of the year accurately. I waited for many things that never happened – it was a series of failed attempts to reach the island of Koh Rong. At the end of it, I am exhausted and absolutely tired, almost broken but not completely – and maybe therein lies the solace. The year was unexpectedly difficult, it tested my limits and strengths, and I often found myself at unbearable low points, questioning the very things I hold most dear to my heart, without which – to me – life would lose its meaning and worth. At large, the world has taken a turn rightward, and India has plunged deeper into the depths of Hindu fundamentalism which has reduced Hinduism, a sophisticated and varied set of philosophies into one immovable, terrifying mass of anger and intolerance.

In the middle of all this, Philippe and I managed to (surprisingly) complete one year of RIC Journal. I also wrote a short piece for the Seagull Books Catalogue. One of my unpublished short stories –Autobiography of a Girl from an Undiscovered Planet – was shortlisted for the DWL award. I was just recently offered a month-long residency at the esteemed Sangam House – where I will be in January ’18, hopefully working on the novella whose subject has tortured and made me suffer greatly this year. One writer that has been a source of personal comfort to me during all this is Clarice Lispector, whose writings have managed to anchor me, helped me hold my own, and for that I am eternally grateful to her heart and pen.

Will it, then, be right to say that I do not believe in the things I believed in? No. I still believe, as I would, till the very end of my life. Emmanuel Macron, in a recent interview to Der Spiegel, talked about the importance of grand narratives in the 21st century – and though, I am always suspicious of politicians, and have no great knowledge of either European or Indian politics, I agreed with him on this point without any reserve. A rejection of postmodernist worldview is necessary to survive the ennui of modern life – to reclaim God, to believe in God not in a limited religious way, but to believe in God as something greater than ourselves.

To believe in destiny.

To believe in the cosmic metanarrative. To know that sometimes the boat to Koh Rong doesn’t arrive, but other times it does.

To 2018.

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