You travel by bicycle. You wear a blouse and pants and practical heels, and you pin your long braid in a practical bun. With the dry wind in your face, you try to feel less like a woman so you can feel free. It flies in the face of your mother’s worried instructions when she phoned you in England, telling you, Don’t be seen in the company of strange men, you’ll be unmarriageable, and think of what people will say!
Actually you met your husband at the scene of a riot you were reporting on. You were the only female reporter. You found yourself scrunched between men. One casually grasped your breast. You switched your hand camera to his face and casually named him the poster child for the sexual harassment faced by women in India every day. Your husband shielded you and your camera when the man tried to hit you. In riot conditions, he said incredulously, after you’d submitted your report and an op-ed on sexual harassment, The audacity of it. Unbelievable.
He was cute. His disbelief was cute, and a little sad, but his ideals aligned with yours. Turned out you attended the same university in England. You didn’t learn his name—Subramanyam—until after you woke up the next morning with him in your bed.
Oh how your mother screamed.
When you enter the office, the buzz of talking dies down to hushed whispers. You’re not stupid. You know everyone has something to say about your pending decision, about whether or not to publish the stories on your desk, given the cultural and political climate, given the letters you’ve received.
Your staff includes men and women, many of them hand-picked by you as soon as you heard they were seeking employment. Among them, Rajiv with the studied face of the perpetually curious, and Isha with the soft, open gaze of the perpetually discovering. Both—you believe—possess the kind of raw talent that only the truly great possess: for finding the stories that need to be told, for gaining the trust of victims and listeners. Both helped you with the story you plan to run today.
If you hope to effectively tell the stories of recent events, these are skills you desperately need in your staff.