A girl from Gaza carrying a bird cage reacts as people flee following an Israeli strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip Image Credit: AFP

A blank screen on the first day of the new year has multiple messages for a writer. The dread of having nothing fresh and new to say, the tremulous hope that the beloved readers will still find them engaging enough to take the precious time to read them.

I am still grieving over a profound personal loss, and as a wise and kind friend advised, grief must be acknowledged by surrendering to it, wallowing in it, if you want hope.

Adding to my grief is the poisonous air we breathe in Delhi in winter, which is the equivalent of smoking 24 packs of cigarettes a day. I miss walking in the Lodhi Gardens when the air was less dire.

I have walked around with tombs as companions that resonate a message that nothing lasts forever, not even grief or our precarious existence.

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No room for negotiations?

As 2023 turned to 2024, I thought of the unimaginable grief of the babies dying daily in Gaza and tried to put my grief in perspective. Losing someone you love rips open your heart, leaving no room for negotiations.

Grief doesn’t do deals. And, yet, some of us refuse to acknowledge that all human beings across the world are equal in a shared humanity.

Why aren’t the Western countries, including the United States and Europe, putting pressure on Israel to end the strafing of Gaza to stop killing children every day?

Journalists are being killed in chilling numbers because Israel doesn’t want them to bear witness to its unspeakable violence against hapless people. Journalists are the first target when countries know their actions are morally offensive.

A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke from Israeli bombardment covering the skyline of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on December 29, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas.
Picture shows smoke from Israeli bombardment covering the skyline of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip

Unconcerned about Gaza

The misery that engulfs Gaza pains the world, yet we see the US and others give Israel a free pass. The United Nations stands as an exemplar of the Western double standards. Why don’t the killing of babies and the strafing of hospitals sear our conscience enough to demand an end to it?

Why does US President Joe Biden give such a long rope to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who seems desperate to cover up the security failure?

As Biden gets involved in a 24/7 campaign for a second term, why is the US voter unconcerned about Gaza? Israeli moves in Gaza expose the Western double standards.

Barring the countries in the Middle East, the rest of the world is silent. What has happened to us as a human race is that even a textbook genocide does not move us.

Remembering Gandhi

On the first day of the year, I remembered Mahatma Gandhi’s belief in non-violence, his moral clarity in fighting the mightiest empire and his conviction that truth will triumph.

Leaders of today pale in comparison to Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. They have become transactional politicians.

Gaza needs the world to reset its moral compass and come to its aid. The new year gives us a chance to change our perspective on violence and suffering.

If nothing else, the new year should make all of us resolve that no country is allowed to kill babies. They are the future of humanity, and its hope.