As a professional science journalist, I’ve accrued a long list of ‘contacts’ in India and abroad, so whenever I discuss my career prospects with friends, I’m often told that I’m well-setup to become a freelancer. However, I recently realised I might be a terrible freelancer, mostly because I am my own writer. By this, I mean that what I write is only partly under my conscious control. I can, for example, decide to write article X this way or that, but I can’t force myself to write article Y when my brain/mind complex wants to get article X out first. Second, I mean that I write only when I feel like writing. When I have to write but don’t feel like it, I write like shit. The words don’t flow, the thought-process is constipated, and there’s such an obvious lack of imagination that I become anxious in the course of writing as to how the article is going to turn out, and write worse as a result. I think I would prefer to have a full-time job where I won’t be penalised for dry patches.
The political events of the last few months have affected me more than I’ve cared to admit. I have been looking since this morning for a line I read somewhere last week, written by someone I can’t remember. It’s about how we – the people of the world – are currently living through a time when we’re being forced to reckon with the fact that our public institutions, while being designed to protect democracy and our constitutional rights, are surprisingly (but also not surprisingly) ineffectual at keeping tyranny and/or fascism in check. The repeated assertions of the truth of this statement, most recently in Mumbai and then at the Supreme Court, have inspired a weariness that’s even resisted all attempts to work harder through it. I feel like the wheels of a train moving through a regenerative brake that the driver won’t stop applying.