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Letter from Nilanjana

I have, for a very long time, chosen to remember myself only as a reader and never a writer. Although I wrote more than I read. There were several things that interested me as a writer, but I mostly wrote about grief.

There was something so meaningful in shaping those tragedies into words which not only provided a catharsis in and around me but also in doing so, created a space where I held empathy as a virtue and not a vice. It also did allow me a separate space to hold emotions that would otherwise accommodate itself in space you wouldn’t want it to be in. Like unannounced guests who cancel your private plans for the weekend, grief tends to cancel out a bunch of good plans that you could potentially have for yourself. As such, my space of grief was reserved in pages, softened, having turned it too many times, in a diary kept safe on the bottom shelf.

It was in the same years of being anxious and twenty, that I came across The Pomelo, and as obvious as it could get, I joined as a reader and not as a writer. I remember living alone in those years of my twenties when days passed by, either running to the University while chewing bread toast and wishing I had woken up earlier or cleaning the entire mess on returning home. I recall never mentioning the rented place as home. I referred to it blandly as the room, like it was some sort of a confining place when it was actually serving my idea of soaring twenties in freedom.

Two years down the lane, when I was no longer sobbing on my lonesome way to the room, when I was tidying up and buying flowers and regularly washing the curtains, and dancing while prepping dinner, I would, if a friend called up to ask where I was, say, I was home.

On one of those days, I returned home to find a sticky note on the refrigerator that read ‘Pomelo Reading Session at 5’. I joined a community that was immediately so embracive that I began looking forward to it every month. It was through these reading sessions that I was able to connect with the team members, who, by the way, are absolute sweethearts. A year later I found myself writing an Editorial Letter for its website. That is the level of unforgettable inclusion and enrichment that the Team served me over these years of shared love and laughter, games and readings, ideas and workload. Inclusion, as I said, came very easily because they practised it and have always lived by it. Through this, I sometimes choose to remember myself as a writer and a reader.

I love how I have grown within the space I found in The Pomelo. It helped me shape wider perspectives on balancing approaches to people and life in general, taught me how to communicate ideas freely and assured me, in the tiniest of ways, that I was within a safe space where official messages began with ‘my dear girlies’ and when the workload weighed off a little less and the boxes have been ticked, we found ourselves dancing with everyone who has ever been with us in this safe little space.

I write this with so much love and appreciation for all that The Pomelo is and all that it will ever be. And I write this to anyone who’s reading it here, I hope we too can dance together someday.

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