October 10, 2008

Dear Friends,

Often you count the milestones in your life that have meant something in your journey and perhaps one of the biggest life altering experiences in my life was investigating and telling the story of Troy Anthony Davis who has been on death row for a murder he has said all along, he did not commit. Seven out of the nine witnesses whose testimony convicted him are saying they lied because of police and prosecutorial coercion. This is the biggest eye witness recant, unprecedented in 100 years in the US.

Meeting Troy’s sister Martina, her son Antone, her mother Virginia and then Troy himself, I have learnt a big lesson in what grace under fire really means, and that dignity, decency, and integrity can be found in so many unlikely places, as can purity of soul and godliness.

I have met some of the biggest liars, cheats, bigots among the rich and the most educated, and I ended up finding honor, goodness, and class in a maximum security prison talking to a prisoner on death row, and in his family. Strange isn’t it?

I’m grateful to every one who didn’t mind my canceling the September issue and devoting the entire month to Troy’s Davis’s story. I felt that this story truly stood above anything else I could write about or publish last month. It was a story that has had cliff hangers galore. Drama, angst, and joy, and it has changed me forever in more ways than I can express.

I hope those of you who have skimmed through it will read the story in depth and make a difference by standing against injustice, working towards changing the very dangerous flaws in the judicial system in this country, and if nothing else, in your own little way take a small step each day in making this world a better place. That can only happen when we become inclusive of every one. It can only happen if we realize that many times when we fight for those who we think are others, we actually protect our own as well. There are so many things that are universal-that can happen to any one of us. And if “me” and “I” becomes “We”, a lot will change on this planet for the better.

In the featured writing section, I’m publishing an essay and a poem Troy wrote in prison and mailed it to me. Many thanks also to JoAnn Weiss and her husband Stephen for faxing me her copy of the same.
Fifteen year old Gautam Narula met Troy Davis in prison as well and he writes his thoughts on the meeting and how it has changed his life.

The second major cover story this month is about Andy Aviles, a young 18 year old, incredibly gifted young man who lost is life in Iraq. Its been five years but his parents live with his loss daily. They are two very brave, wonderful people and their story is amazing. Many thanks to Kathy Hankensen, for bringing their story to my attention. It took a while before I could write it without tearing up and stopping.

One of my favorite directors Hrishikesh Mukherjee would have turned 86 on 30th September. There is so much about Hrishi da I love to revisit. This year I thought it would be really cool to talk to those who knew him very closely-his family. And what emerged was a heart warming story of a wonderful human being who was as lovable in real life, and as multi-dimensional as he was on the sets. And of course we will be revisiting the classic 5 episode series I did about Hrishi da with various members of his fraternity who had the pleasure of working with him or knowing him.

I hope you enjoy reading the cover feature as much as I enjoyed writing it. I also have a special singing tribute to Hrishi da in the webcast, by the common masses who have like me, loved his films.

This month I have a bonanza of amazing stories and articles for you. We are also changing the format for the e-magazine and soonwe will be bringing you new stories every week.
The wait will have been well worth it.

Enjoy the issue and thanks as always for your support.

Kavita Chhibber

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