Hope Is A Garden We Can Tend Together

Painting of two women in a field
Landscape (Paysage) (1916) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir


Dear Reader,

I know writers are not obligated to write about hope. Often in real life, bad things happen to good people and bad people carry on living unscathed. We don’t always get what we want. And yet, when I read, I can’t help but look for signs of light, resistance, optimism. Because isn’t reality bleak enough? If we can’t imagine hope in fiction, how can we recognise the seeds of it in the everyday?

When I first read After the Inquiry, my first thought was: protect Nithya at all costs! She is the sharp and sensitive assistant to the otherwise steely and unmoving bureaucrat, Teck. It is through her curiosity and empathetic questioning that the various threads of the mysterious shooting incident come together. And when everything unravels, she must decide what to do with the truth. How to maneuver through the web of bureaucracy.

I see a bit of us in Nithya—those of us who grew up believing in this country, who are also optimistic that things can change. And I also see in her, the parts of us that have been let down by powerful institutions, the parts of us that are resigned to futility.

Can fictional characters be truly shielded from the harsh realities of the world they inhabit? I’m not so sure. But I do think that if we stumble upon the seeds of resistance, we cannot, must not, unsee them.

Hope is a garden we can tend together. And I hope that eventually, you’ll be able to see its tender fruits.


(From March 20, 2021)