An award and a break
I need to lie down.
It has been a long week. The next piece I am working on deals with an issue that I do not have a lot of personal experience with. Which means, double the research, and ten times the scoping for stories.
I spent a lot of time this week conducting interviews with people who have no idea who I am or what I write - which means a lot of polite introductions, and quite a few interesting conversations that I have nothing to show for storywise. Work has been hectic. Covid is covid, of course - a perennial throbbing headache. All in all, I am more mentally exhausted this week than I have been in a while.
The next newsletter promises to be an insightful one, a thought-provoking one, and maybe even a funny one.
But I am just not sure I can do justice to it in my current state of mental vacuum.
So I am writing today to ask you for another week’s time to pull together my thoughts, organize the interview transcripts, and circle back with my kind interviewees for any gaps in my understanding so that I can write up a piece that does semi-justice to the subject.
(But mostly, I am asking for some time to take a nap.)
So no Womaning this week?
Thankfully, not so. A recent stroke of fortune has put me in a good position, whereby I do have something for you to read this week.
(“Whereby”. Look at the literary gold that mental fog is churning out.)
Remember I mentioned last week that I had been nominated for a digital creators award?
Okay, I need to find a calmer GIF to reflect my actual reaction to the news.
But it is definitely a cool thing. I won the Women’s Web Orange Flower 2022 runners-up award for Writing with Social Impact.
And that puts me in the fortuitous position of leaving you with “an award-winning piece” to read this week (la-frigging-di-da!)
I think this piece is one of the most underrated editions of Womaning. I really thought it was my best work so far - but somehow the views it got did not match my enthusiasm.
The vagaries of the interwebs notwithstanding, it was undoubtedly the most mind-bending, heart-rending, and uplifting piece I have ever had the privilege of writing.
If you had asked me a week ago (when I didn’t even know which piece of mine was nominated) I would have picked “The Mother with 3500 Children” as my favourite Womaning piece so far anyway. So it is exceptionally good luck that it also happens to be my first award-winning piece.
No one asked me to do an acceptance speech (and I really need to calm down, I know)
But I do want to thank the inspiring women I interviewed for this piece.
Three of them were blind. So I wondered how they would even answer my call without seeing the green button on their phones.
I must thank my dear friend, Uma Badve, for helping me connect with these ladies whose technological prowess, it turns out, I grossly underestimated. Uma’s mother, Ms. Meera Badve, is the amazing founder of Niwant Andh Mukta Vikasalay (aka the Mother of 3500 Children) - someone who inspires me every time I as much as think of her name.
Two of the women I interviewed for the piece - Saudamini Pethe and Charu Narang - are deaf.
Pallavi Kulshrestha - who does some incredible work with the Haryana Welfare Society for Persons with Speech and Hearing Impairment - interpreted for us so we could understand each other’s languages.
Pallavi also inspired me to sign up for a three-month basics course in learning Indian Sign Language (ISL) - something I can never thank her enough for.
Last month, I was able to help out a deaf couple who were standing outside a government building, being shooed out the door, because - get this - the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities of the Government of India has no sign language interpreter on staff to communicate with deaf people(!)
My personal rage aside, I will forever be grateful to my ISL teachers for teaching me this wonderful language.
At least now I can sign my impotent apologies to a couple who deserve better from their government.
The problems of the deaf community would be solved almost entirely if every hearing person learned ISL. So, the next time you feel the urge to learn a new language, here is the link to sign up for / enquire about the ISL basics course I did.
And here is the original piece, for your reading pleasure:
It is a piece that expands my heart every time I re-read it, so I really hope you read (or re-read) it too so that its views finally match up to my personal love for it.
Especially now that I have freed up a Womaning-shaped time slot from your schedule this week.
This newsletter comes to you free of cost. But that does not mean that it costs nothing.
Womaning in India is a physical, mental, and emotional labour of love. If you appreciate the work I am doing with it, show me your love by buying me a coffee.