Three Thousand Six Hundred Fifty Mornings

Photo by Paul Fiedler on Unsplash


A photo of an office. Purple sweater, ballet flats and stuffed tigers. Cookies in a jar. Forgotten Economist magazines in the lull of 1:01 pm. Maps taped on the wall, how wonderful and telling. How equally beautiful if not more, those old yellowed rolled-up maps. Were these inherited from the giants who stood before her? Where these products of labor of love at a time without computers? She seemed to be a custodian. A laptop, a desktop, 3 screens. A scientist-custodian in the globalised digital age. Image is a powerful thing.

A memory. Caffeine overload, interoffice mail, endless chart revisions, rows and columns of numbers in spreadsheets that independently ran themselves. Contractor drama in the form of long calls for breakfast because if you put men together, they always fight. One of the three thousand six hundred fifty mornings like this. Running late for a lunch out with colleagues because deep work momentum is hard to break. Thousands of dollars of projects and then again more plus a million dollar program to lead. Reports, papers and more Powerpoint slides.

All mine. Every word in this report, every figure in that presentation, a hundred traverses on the field for those glorious numbers shown at the desk, at conferences, at a boardroom meeting. Every onsite huddle to patch up agitated workers. Every corporate buzzword spoken when vocabulary runs out because in synergy we trust. Every flight to catch for field work and beer with the men because humans are the most important thing. Every lived moment of the intensity of the flow of work whether out at the front line or in front of the machine. All mine.

All this.
All of me.
My identity. Is. Was.


Fast forward to present in the shuffling of papers in the city’s international office. Who am I in this strange new land? Speaking a foreign language where it’s dark at 4 pm. Within two years, a paper that says I got my dream international degree and that earned a bit of respect among people in this bureaucratic administration somehow. So now there is a very important stamp on an equally important document that says I can stay without going through the judgment and embarrassment specially reserved for ethnicities with certain gender whose place of origin has a lower visa hierarchy.

Because why? My birth is random and the origin of my passport is an accident. But maybe that is not the right question to ask. Shall one look at another by how they lived their day to day and only box them according to their circumstance at birth? Or shall one ignore another’s circumstance of birth and only view them by how they spend their day to day? And what about the rest outside the picture? Outside the memory? Identity is a curious thing.

There’s authenticity in being a stranger. Devoid of customary titles. The absence of an overarching narrative. A person holding number 3650 in a regional administrative office queue. The freedom to be. The detachment of the past in space and time. The lightness of now. The absence of continuity. Only discrete moments. Snapshots. Like the photo of an office. Like the memory of one of the calls for breakfast similar to three thousand six hundred fifty mornings before that. Like the piece of paper with a queue number “3650” written on it.

The point is to look back three thousand six hundred fifty days from now and say:

Yes, that was me.
Some part of my multi-dimensionality.
A fluid identity. Constantly shifting. That was.

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