On Bidding Fur Babies Farewell

Penny, sometime between 2013 – 2016

One of the hardest things about being a pet parent is saying goodbye. For those of us who love animals, our fur babies become part of the family, and an integral part of our lives. 

I adopted my tortoise shell cat, Penny, from an organisation called Toronto Cat Rescue in 2008. She was 9 months old and every bit as feisty as a tortie should be.

She had been rescued from a shelter where she was to be euthanized – and fostered into a home with lots of other cats.

Like many humans, Penny didn’t  like cats.

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Musings on a Decade

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

When I turned 30, my last so-called milestone birthday, I was unemployed, broke, and heartbroken. I was totally and completely lost.

I was still at that age, where there was a lot of pressure to “achieve” things by certain points in time. By 30, I had reasoned, I should have my shit together.

I should be relatively successful, have a social-media-boasting – worthy partner and generally be on a rapid upward trajectory. 

But I didn’t have any of those things, and the closer it loomed, the more things fell apart.

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Reflections on a Bizarrely Serendipitous Year

Photo by Lisanne van Elsen on Unsplash

That 2020 has been a strange year is true of every single human. When we started the year, COVID was a foreign problem, something barely on the speck of the horizon. 

But I’m not writing this to talk about the innumerable ways our lives have changed, for two reasons. 

Firstly, we have all lived it. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly – that experience of change has been unique for each and every single individual – and there is nothing particularly noteworthy about my experience, besides perhaps that I eventually contracted the disease – an experience that I’ve already documented extensively.

What 2020 has also been about for me is timing.

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My COVID Hangover

I have always been clumsy, but since Friday, have had a serious case of butter fingers. My limbs felt weak, and still do. I fumbled trying to put on a pair of earrings dropping one in the process. At night I toss and turn trying to find a position that doesn’t make the tightness in my chest worse.

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Life with the Corona Virus

Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

After eight months of a paranoia, stringent precautions and multiple skin breakouts thanks to the chafing of masks, it is a rather strange thing to have a COVID positive test report in front of you.

It’s like you spend all these months running from something and when it finally catches up with you, there is some sense of relief.

I was told it was inevitable. I had come to visit my parents as a surprise for my mother – and much to my surprise, they all tested positive. In a house inhabited by three COVID patients, there were just too many germs. Masks and social distancing attempts were more farce than protective.

The first test, as you know,  was negative. 

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COVID19 PART 2: THE PLOT TWIST

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Good morning! I’m reporting straight from the hot zone. It is day 7 since my exposure to Corona 1 and Corona 2, aka Mom & Dad who tested positive for COVID the day after I arrived after a long and difficult eight month separation.

Forgive my humour but there are so few cheerful things about COVID, we have to snatch up small moments of laughter where we get them. 

At around 3 am On Tuesday morning (aka exposure + 4 days) I found myself in a half-crazed delirious fit of shivers. I took my temperature from an admittedly questionable digital thermometer. 99.8.

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COVID19 & THE BATTLE FOR CIVIC SENSE

Photo by Tonik on Unsplash

The first reaction is always fear. That’s what I felt when I thought about getting tested. 

In our mind’s eye – even us, the ultra – privileged – we picture the government storming our house and seizing us, and holding us captive in less than sanitary treatment facilities where poor hygiene would kill us before COVID would. 

No matter how eloquently we wax on about civic duty, we all feel this little spot of selfishness. I know I did.

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The Violence in Our Minds

One day, years ago, I visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. I will never forget what they said.

They said that what happened to Anne Frank – all the tragedy that befell her – is the typical experience of a Jewish person in Europe at the time of the concentration camps.

It’s just that our minds cannot wrap themselves around the fact of so much pain and suffering.

We see Anne Frank as an individual, but it is unfathomable to us, that there were so many others who had it as bad, if not worse.

We can really feel it for an individual but not hundreds or thousands of people. Our weak little hearts just can’t handle that.

I’m feeling this way after reading the news for the past few days.

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Privilege and Shame

Photo by Chris Slupski on Unsplash

My first book of 2020 was a book called Can We All Be Feminists. It is a collection of essays examining, dissecting and discussing intersectionality and feminism. It is a stellar book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who identifies with the word “feminist”.

The concept of intersectionality got me thinking about my own privilege.

Yes, as an Indian woman I face gender-based discrimination, I face unwanted attention from men sometimes in professional settings where it is hard to mitigate, and I look over my shoulder when I find myself alone in dark lonely spaces.

But I am also privileged.

I am privileged never to have been the victim of any serious sexual assault. I am privileged to have a family that supported me in education and in living and working for myself, a family that did not define my success in life by my ability to bring home a suitable husband.

I am privileged to have the means to have access to an education, a roof over my head, food to eat and access to clothing.

I am privileged to have a partner that treats me as an equal, that doesn’t put me down, respects me and as far as I know is loyal to me.

Though I have been fat-shamed and body-shamed, there is a privilege to having a body size that is close to the norm. I am trying to choose my words carefully on this one, as the essay by Selina Thompson on fatness and feminism, and our own agency over our bodies. The further you are away, the more dehumanised you become.

I am privileged to have had many opportunities to live and work abroad as well as the privilege of growing up in India. I am privileged to belong to a sexuality and a gender identity that does not expose me to the ugly whims of insecure prejudice.

I am privileged in a seemingly infinite number of ways.

If I claim to be a feminist, an identity I struggle with often for a while host of other reasons, I want to be a feminist in the pluralistic sense of the word, at least to the best extent that I can be as a flawed, biased human being.

I think it’s important we recognise our own privilege – because the privileged rarely like to admit they are so. As someone who is as infinitely privileged as I have described above, I know I don’t like to admit mine.

But admit it we must, because it is only when we recognise the good fortune, we have in ourselves, that we can empathise with those who are oppressed for reasons we would never be. It is only when we can understand this, that we can help others.

The shame, at least for me, comes from guilt. I feel guilty for my abundance, and it makes me want to deny and hide it. It’s difficult, at least for me, to admit that I am fortunate. It is easier to focus on what I don’t have.

I don’t like feeling like I’ve had things handed to me. I’ve worked very hard for a lot of the things in my life, and I want to feel I can celebrate my accomplishments. But if I’m to be totally honest, I had some advantages that helped me in doing those things – access to resources that is far from equal.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t fight against the oppression we face. If we don’t fight for ourselves, who will? But in my humble opinion, we could consider recognising the oppression we don’t face, because someone out there is facing it, and wishing we would just understand how lucky we are.

I am making this pledge this year, to be more sensitive to the experiences of other human beings, and my own blind spots that have led me there because of my privilege.

My Complicated Relationship with Body Image

Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

I have always had a complicated relationship with my weighing scale. I was a chubby child and teenager, and have struggled with body image and my weight, for as long as I can remember. 

In school, I was bullied and called a fat and hairy bitch. In university, for a few years I worked out regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and then I discovered the curse that is relationship weight gain, especially when you’re with someone who eats a lot of Nutella, like my college boyfriend.

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