To Anne Frank, with a heartfelt apology

When I first attempted to read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl I had been was around the same age as her when she penned down the diary and took pride in my ability to read anything and everything I could lay my hand on at the Air Force library nearby. However, that being a voracious reader didn’t prevent me from looking forward to devouring literature that I really enjoyed. As a result, I had been quick to dismiss the memoir and continued to be its staunch critique for many years before my opinion slipped into obliviousness with passing time. Our lives collectively took a turn for the worse when the country joined the league of other countries affected by the pandemic last year and a nationwide lockdown was imposed on 24th March 2020 under the Disaster Management Act, 2005. The date has now assumed historical significance apart from being a date of personal significance as one of my best friend’s birthday falls on this date. As India is grappling with the deadly second wave of infection currently, Delhi has been under a lockdown since mid-April. As I continue to look forward to my daily dose of fresh air with my evening cup of tea at the only section of the balcony from which one can look outside since the rest of it is securely covered with an opaque green net with renewed interest, one day all of a sudden I was reminded of Anne Frank. Having been coupéd up inside the house for weeks together while desperately waiting to go out and feel the air on my face only to be compelled to step out with mask plastered like it is an extension of my body, gave me a new perspective to the agony she must have gone through during the last years of her tragically cut short life. While it can get overwhelming for most of us even to patiently for the lockdown, in the face of an uncertain future she not only chose to be hopeful but managed to maintain that spirit throughout. Today with a heavy heart I realize that to do what she did is achieving no mean feat. The mental health issues one would be subjected under such trying circumstances can go to the extent of making one too debilitated to even go on living yet she went on fighting bravely with a pen in her hand. In my youthful arrogance, I had completely overlooked the limitations imposed by her age and the format she chose to write in. She aspired to become a critically acclaimed writer. She would have probably even managed to fulfill her dreams had she survived the holocaust. After all, there are many youngsters whose more cherished dream is to get published someday but how many of them start penning down their thoughts at the mere age of thirteen? Not only did she start writing a diary but she kept in line with the cardinal rule that to improve one must invest in writing regularly. She has rightly emerged as an icon of hope in the face of possibly one of the most systematically and brutally executed persecutions in the history of mankind and inspiration to budding authors during the last century.  It is true that she probably didn’t want another soul to read her personal diary. Surely there are some deep-rooted issues regarding privacy when it comes to the publication of her personal diary. Even the fact the abridged version of the book is more widely available than the original one doesn’t solve the issue either. However, for this once I would rather focus on how a father paid tribute to his dead daughter by ensuring that her work gets published in light of how she had wanted to be a famous writer someday.

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