The CCBC recently released the statistics on diversity in children’s books that were published in the US in 2018. Out of all the children’s books published in that year, only 23% were about children of colour. And it turned out that there were actually more books written about animals than about BAME people. 1% of children’s books were about Native American characters, 5% were about Latinx characters, 7% were about Asian characters, 10% were about African/African-American characters. But 27% of children’s books published in the US in 2018 were about animals. 27%. That’s more than all of the books about BAME characters combined.

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Absence is our form of normalcy.

The absence of people that are supposed to stay, the absence of warmth that should have been arms, the vacancy of hearts, the unmade conversations falling onto deaf ears. Routines, murmurs, nods. How do we fill the spaces between spaces?

By stashing in whatever we can — with urgency — to occupy, to blind an eye from what is truly missing. To it exists a sad beauty in which no one can quite pinpoint.

We are the shadow of normalcy — mortality, a plague that follows every man. These things wait at every turn, too close, too comfortable, for even our own skins.

Youth is not the problem, neither is experience.

The disturbing thing about normalcy is its ambiguity. We never seem to have the right opinion on it. It is always there that, once removed, the space that should have been becomes a big gawping hole, always drawing the wrong sort of attention. It is almost concrete, carrying its own weight like a living breathing thing, always wanted when it should be feared.

Normalcy is being sad for so long that you confuse it with being okay. It is eternal happiness short-lived. It is feeling better and feeling worse, it is the social metre of your worth (which in no way is equivalent to your actual worth).

The sort of normalcy I fear is a homeless, hopeless, pointless sort; a starvation that makes growing up a many dotted chaos than a straight line, the kind of headiness that disregards societal concept of time, life, beauty, despair and loss.

Because you cannot lose what you never had — cannot know hopelessness when you never tasted hope, cannot bother with time when it never mattered, nor understand the point of it all when you didn’t have one to begin with. And that’s the beauty (as well as the ugly) of life, I think. This isolation; when ‘better’ had always been unimaginable, life is bearable for the less fortunate, makes it worth living, somehow, turns the ugly beautiful; normalcy spinning itself on its head.

So, yes, life is bearable, not too sad, not too lonely, thus pointless for you to feel sorry in our place; I am okay, I am alive, and maybe that isn’t enough for me, but it shouldn’t matter to you.