10 years ago when I was admittedly braver, I told my family I want to move to Delhi for graduation. In hindsight, I feel like it was someone else who fought that fight.
A different person, wanting to shift to a different city.
This wasn't the Delhi I moved to.
As an 18-year-old, Delhi was my hope. The last hope. The only hope.
Like millions of small town children, I pinned all my desires on the city, but it didn't flinch even once. Of course, there were difficulties on the way, but Delhi gave me everything I wanted, and more.
When time came, though, I couldn't return the favour - because there are limitations to an individual's endeavors. And even though I still have hope that things will get better, there is no ignoring/disregarding what the city and its people will have gone through till the time that happens.
Now, before I talk about other issues, I think this is as good a point as any, for me to acknowledge the privileges I have as an upper-caste Hindu from a financially stable family. My surname gives me 'security' I never thought it could.
And the preferential treatment is structured beyond our collective imaginations.
There is a section of people that has it a lot worse, I know, and that breaks my heart.
However, the pain of seeing Delhi in the state of constant horror is the same for all.
It is surreal to think that there are parts of the city that one cannot go to, without putting themselves at risk.
And that Delhi, the mix pot of different cultures, has now become a sad dichotomy.
On one hand, you have these clubs functioning like they always did. On the other, you have areas which have become the center of protests over the past few months.
You'll hear screams at both places - for reasons as different as they can be.
Even as I write this article, there is news of 18 people being killed in violence in North-East Delhi. That, along with the headlines about the visit of Donald Trump - the world's most powerful leader.
His wife Melania was in a government school attending a 'happiness class' yesterday - and if that doesn't define irony for you, I don't know what will.
Strange times we live in: US First Lady attends a ‘Happiness class’ in a South Delhi School...— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) February 25, 2020
Just as 6 miles away, North-east Delhi burns, people die in the name of religion...
Delhi is dejected. Its gardens are gloomy, its roads, scared and its buildings, scarred.
They are covered with blood, which will come off sooner or later.
I am afraid, though, that other damages will not be so easy to undo.
A direct result of which, is Delhi ceasing to be a symbol of 'hope' for people.
Stepping outside your home now means there are chances you won't be able to return and it is a reality all of us have accepted.
There is one community at the receiving end of propaganda and hate, which has turned this city into a ghost town that seems like a dystopian world from centuries-old literature.
Violence has become the new 'norm' and the 'romance of Delhi' is struggling to breathe as the smoke from burning vehicles envelops the skies above.
The times are dark and divisive forces have taken the streets. Still, we will rise and do our jobs. We will demand justice.