and there is always tomorrow.

Courage, it would seem, is nothing less than the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good; that everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding; and that there is always tomorrow. Dorothy Thompson

I have been locked in silence for a few days. A rare occurrence for me as I always seem to err on the other side, always the one to find the word, action, reaction to any situation whatever it may be.

As I pick up my virtual pen to ultimately break this muteness I find myself diminished in more ways than one. Gone is the bravado and cockiness, the ease with which one took on every cause to espouse, the fire to fight for seemingly lost causes and in its place the inevitable almost existential question: who am I and what gives me the right to do what I do?

The last seven years were filled with a sense of achievement - no matter how minute - a feeling of pride as children passed exams, hearts got fixed, women got empowered, and we grew from 20 to 100 and then to over 500! There were even moments when hubris took over albeit for the tiniest of moments and one's human side stood exposed as one carefully filed press cuttings with a feeling of satisfaction. One had arrived or so one thought.

However life or God or whoever else it is that holds the trump card always intervenes before you wander to far and this is what happened at a time when I felt almost invincible as we worked towards N's operation. A simple barely murmured sentence by this extraordinary woman as we sat counting numbers dealt me a blow I am still reeling over. She simply said: had I not had the past I had, I would not have been able to be who I am today.

These are words many of us have said or thought or even believe. But when your past begins with the worst case of abuse at an age when you should be playing with dolls and in a split moment the stage was set for a life where everything would be defiled: her childhood, her dreams, her mind, her spirit, her soul: in a word her future. To bear the pain came the drugs, the alcohol and the defiance of all the rules as, are these not made for those who have the luxury of a normal life where childhood grows into adolescence and matures to adulthood.

Those were her dark years where danger, misfortune , fear, injustice played their destructive game and as is often the case in such situations temerity ruled. Everything is sacrificed with impudence or so one feels. But somewhere a little voice tells you to hold on and a flickering light beckons you to reach out. It is that very glimmer that led N out of her dark labyrinth into a pool of luminous light that not only dispelled her darkness but became a beacon for others to follow and makes a barely literate woman say with pride: I would not have been what I am today.

For N is. In a world where people are happy being shadows or clones, she stands out as an example of hope, a vindication of all those who believe that nothing or no one is hopeless or beyond redemption. But above all N puts into to question the very foundation of those like me, who feel smug in the tiny roles they have chosen for themselves.

Today, when I look back at my existence and particularly at the last seven years I often hold as my best, I see nothing much to write home about or be proud of. It just seems one did what one had to keeping in mind the abundance of privileges one was dealt with all along. N brought into my life a different perspective altogether and a new meaning to the word tomorrow. It becomes imperative for me, to redefine that tomorrow and strive towards it with renewed hope.