How do you write a headline on Priya Ramani?
“Priya is going to re-invent herself so magnificently, you just wait and watch,” I texted a friend on whatsapp. She was worrying for you. I’m not worrying for you.
Priya Ramani has ruined my life. I’m sure she has done this to many others, but my story is the only one I know. I can barely remember my life as it was before she began to send me DMs on Twitter.
I mean it. I used to live behind this nice decent mask and say a few cryptic things on social media now and then and pretend to be a closet poet or something and then she said, “Write a column for me.”
If anyone else had asked me to do the same thing, I might have written a column and become famous and had a fancy collection of shiny new masks to hide behind.
I’m not sure how or why it happened, but Priya made me bold. For one, she’s always saying whatever comes to her mind. She barely edits herself. So I also started saying whatever comes to my mind. And now it is all out there and I don’t know how to stop.
In November 2014, Priya resigned as Editor of Mint Lounge. She had been in this role for 8 years. I didn’t know what was going to happen next.
I hadn’t ever expected an Editor of a fancy weekend supplement to start publishing real people’s commonplace feelings, or common people’s real feelings; narrated in first person. The column became a site of self-discovery — both for me and for the readers. They came, they read and they stayed.
I tested the waters cautiously in the beginning. For the first few months, every time I sent a column I expected it to be sent right back to me. For over a year, I would press send and then be sure that I had pushed the boundary a little too far this time. To put it more accurately, I would feel that I had pulled out something from a part of me that was too deep, fragile and vulnerable, and nobody was fool enough to publish this.
Apparently Priya, you are the fool I was destined to run into. On twitter, of all the godforsaken places possible.
And now you are going away. What did you think? Sardar khush hoga? Shabashi dega?
Of course, khush hoga! Because I know why we do these things. Take decisions to start all over again in the middle of our life. Smash the chaos in our lives with a hammer and stand back and look at the smithereens. Tip toe away from the debris.
It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be really easy. Maybe you will continue to take a bath everyday even if you aren’t going to “go to work.” Maybe you will be more like me. Every time I feel like I should really get up and take a bath, I update my Facebook status. The less I comb my hair, the less it falls. Sometimes I comb my eyebrows, when I catch a glance of me in a mirror.
I feel like we should go for a stroll in the park and chat on a bench and then I will write about a friend of mine who walked away from something she loved because it exhausted her. It was time to let go.
She wants more of herself for herself. And for the Very Important People who love her. She wants to sleep in the daytime and be home when her daughter returns from school. She wants to savor her mid-life crisis. These things need time, we know that!
Thank you, Priya Ramani, for inspiring me to drop my masks in broad daylight. I hope I inspire you to do the same.
In June 2020, Priya wrote the last edition of her weekly column, Cranky Customer— after having been with Mint for 15 years and writing this column in Lounge, the Saturday edition, for 5 years.
I haven’t spoken to her much about this. Sometimes you want to grieve quietly. There is a sense of loss in leaving, but the walking away is necessary. It is an intrinsic part of the circle of life.
There is so much turmoil in the world today. Authoritarianism is in vogue again and stupid is the new smart. Entire countries and democracies seem to be in a hurry to self-destruct. Family, society, individuals — everyone is struggling to hold-on to some sense of certainty, even as it all crumbles around us.
How could one have expected to remain unscathed? How does one measure one loss against another? Those who keep moving are likely to reach a higher ground.
Move early. Give up things that don’t nurture anymore. Build anew. Nature needs us to create. The universe needs a helping hand.
Check out Article 14, a website that is a joint effort between lawyers, journalists, and academics, and provides intensive research and reportage, data and varied perspectives on issues necessary to safeguard democracy and the rule of law. Yaniki a solid news website, that Priya is now working to build along with her journalist husband, Samar Halarnkar and a few friends.
Wait for Priya’s column to appear in new spaces. It will surprise you.
Meanwhile, Priya Ramani, I have hisaab to chukao with you. I’m watching you real close to see if I can get a chance to send you an idea as ruinous as the one you once sent me on a Twitter DM. Yes, I’m looking at you, Priya Ramani!