The morning after..
I am on vacation in one of the most beautiful places on this planet – Hawaii – with loved ones. On 11/9, I was catching an inter-island flight from Kona to Maui. We were frantically checking the electoral vote count coming out.
First thoughts: What? He is leading? Oh! that’s because the the west coast counts haven’t come in yet..
Later Thoughts: He is still leading? What the heck~!? How is this possible?? At about 6pm HST (11pm EST), we knew the result, even though it wasn’t declared yet. It did not sink in. How did this happen?? How did everyone let this happen?
About an year and half ago, my husband and I had an intense conversation about the upcoming election. He kept predicting this outcome. I couldn’t believe what he was saying. I was outraged that he would even entertain this outcome – ‘Are you kidding me? This guy is a joke. Except for being the butt of all jokes, this man is not going to get anywhere in American politics. The Republicans will take care of this. They will make sure that he will not be the last man standing – even if it was just for the sake of preserving the party’s reputation and future as a whole. ‘ I was unable to fathom why my husband kept saying that this man would be the last one standing. Two emotions: Why am I not able to get through to my husband? Why do I keep trying to make a point so strongly, when I know deep down, this will be a moot point in 6 months, and this candidate will just be the subject of hilarious memes.??
I ended up arguing with my husband and we did not talk to each other for a few hours. We needed a break from each other. I guess, my passion to make him believe that this outcome was not possible should have been a premonition to things to come. Well, at the end of day, on 11/9, I had to accept that my husband was right all along.
The emotions I felt – none of them can ever be summarized in a sentence. Shock, Impotent anger, Sadness, an uneasy, empty pit somewhere between my chest and stomach.We made this country our home for exactly the same reasons that seem to have been entirely overthrown by the outcome of this election.
This is the country I love – Justice and Liberty for all. I believed that this was a country where women are respected and valued for what they bring to the table. A country where most people believed in gender equality. If you had a righteous view and worked hard, people will look past whether you were a woman or a man.A country that was finally starting to make progress in treating the LGBT community more fairly and equally. A country where diverse cultures and ethnicities are embraced. Most of all, a country where people cannot get away with saying the things this man has said. At least, I believed that this was a country where a man who called women ‘Pigs, Slobs and Dogs’ will never be the ‘Chosen Leader’. I thought people will ‘obviously’ see through his flaws, his attitude to sway both ways and hold completely opposite views as and when it suits him. Each time he opened his mouth in the debates and press conferences, I kept thinking of the famous quote from the movie ‘The American President’ – He is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it.
Simply put, the election results burst my bubble. It felt like the ground below my feet was slipping away. My husband hugged me and said – ‘I wanted you to be right more than you know.’ My girlfriend, who was beside me when the news sunk in, was asking the same questions as I was. We just went numb and silent on the ride to our hotel, while we ate our dinner and watched various news channels analyse the outcome. I knew what she was feeling and she knew what I was thinking.. Were we naive enough to believe that people in the country that we love would know right from wrong. What is right and wrong anyway? One man’s right is another man’s injustice. One man’s injustice is another man’s retribution. What I choose to call ‘misguided anger’ might just be another person’s need to be acknowledged, valued and respected in the society we live in.
We talked about the outcome late into the night, thought about it while we fell into our beds. There is some solace in falling into the arms of a loved one when everything around you no longer makes any sense. The next day, we woke up at 2:30 am and drove two hours to see the morning sunrise. It felt like a waste of time. Why was I waking up and dressing up to see the Sun? I just wanted to curl in bed and not wake up the whole day. Nevertheless, we got to the tallest peak in Hawai’i and stood in the cold, waiting to catch the first rays of Sunlight. The Sun started coming up – It was surreal. As I watched the first rays of Sun break through the darkness, and hear the beautiful chanting of the Hawaiian rangers in the background, I shed a few tears. I shed tears for that woman who tried to shatter the greatest and hardest glass ceiling and couldn’t break through. I shed a few tears for myself – may be out of self pity. It felt like a personal, profound loss. I shed tears for my unborn children and the kind of world I will bring them into. I shed tears for men and women fighting climate change, racial discrimination, gender inequality and poverty on a daily basis.
How could the Sunrise be so beautiful and the world not be perfect? How could I be on one of the most breathtaking places on earth and not be happy? I gave my husband a kiss and decided to do everything I can to process this craziness, focus on love and work on healing myself and support my family and friends as much as I can. The Sun will rise tomorrow and will continue to throughout my lifetime. We as women will have to dust off and begin again and start from Step 1 if that is what it takes. Let us also start looking, listening and reckoning the existence of opinions beyond those expressed in our social media feeds and our favorite news channels and daily shows. There is a lot of work to do. For me, it starts with looking into what more I could help with, what I can change and influence in my own tiny way. For today, I will start by taking off my ”blinders and dealing with heart break.
I will continue writing about the election, women, feminism as I work my way through this. It is a process. Please bear with me and don’t hate me for being so emotional about this…Thank you!
Hugs and Love from the Island. Aloha!