Have you ever noticed a person closely? Yes, they do look different; they have different tastes; a myriad mindsets… but look closer.
Inside, their souls, you’ll find yourself.
They are running scared; fighting for a place; living through each day, smiling and crying all the same. Inside, they are confused. Every time they find themselves lost amidst a crowd, they panic. They have dark days. They have brighter ones as well.
And look at you! Amidst the chaos of the city and dwindling light, you sit and watch the world go by. You are looking for your world. You are looking forward to a day when you’ll own the stage and the spotlight will be on you. When you have dark days, you are not afraid to cry. And when the sun shines bright, you rejoice.
You have goals like them. You have dreams gleaming in your eyes. You are as beautiful as the merging colours of the sky. You are looking for your moment to shine; they are looking for theirs!
Amidst the crowds that buzz past you, you take a breath and look at every person closely. You are blurring more and more into the crowd. And they are blurring more and more into you.
And as the sun drowns against the city line casting silhouettes across the horizon, you take a deep breath and stand up. Indeed, you looked closer and what did you find? That there’s a piece of you in those blurring faces in the crowd.
I remember waking up to Facebook notifications.
It wouldn’t have been a surprising thing if it hadn’t been 20 notifications at once. For a person like me who has always maintained a low profile in the school, I was surprised someone or a few people even took the chance to visit my profile. I presumed the notifications were those of people liking my posts or something, but when the Facebook app finally managed to load completely, what I saw… scared me.
Mornings were supposed to have a schedule. I used to leap out of my bed, faster than a rat in trap and rush into the shower before anyone else occupied it. The usual clanking of metal utensils downstairs confirmed that Mom was busy cooking breakfast for all of us, and at occasional intervals, she’d shout to me and ask me to come to the table. Everything in the morning happened in a rush because no one was willing to wake up ten minutes earlier.
However, something was strange about that morning. Either the house was unusually quiet or I was too lost to keep a track on the drone of noises. The sky wasn’t amber but grey, exactly like how I was feeling when I scrolled through the notifications.
“XYZ Confessions tagged you in a post.”
“R commented : This is precious.”
“T commented : Check this out! That girl deserves this!”
“S commented : Lol.”
“P commented : So fucking true!”
Even before I had opened the entire post, I knew it had to be something bad, because the comments came from people who I really didn’t like a lot.
I remember my lips quivering as I clicked on the post and waited with bated breath for the post to load. A hundred apprehensions clouded my brain and suddenly, the schedule of the morning was forgotten. When Mom called for me to come downstairs, I lied and told her I was dressing up, when in reality, I was still sitting on my bed, chewing on my nails, waiting to read the post.
Every second of wait was killing me.
And when I happened to finally read the post, it killed me. Goosebumps arose on my skin when the slightest wind brushed past me. The comments started blurring and when the pain started settling across my nose, I realized I was on the verge of crying. Questions shot through my mind. Who could have written something like that? Why would anyone hate me? And why have some of my friends liked the post?
Mom called for the umpteenth time and after getting no response, she decided to come upstairs herself.
The moment I heard her footsteps on the wooden staircase, I took a deep breath and slipped under the blanket again, burying my face in the bulges of the pillow.
“What?” she asked, entering my room. “Why are you still in bed?”
“I’m having a headache. I don’t think I can go to school,” I mumbled.
“But you have a practical test today!”
As much as I didn’t want to go to school that day, I knew I had to. I couldn’t miss my practical exams. But a part of me was okay with the prospect, if it meant not having to face the students in the school that day. I was afraid that they’d talk about me in the hallways. I knew my classmates were going to have a questionnaire ready for me. And I knew I couldn’t take all that.
However, after Mom’s constant persuasion, fifteen minutes later, I sat in her car.
“Do you still have a headache?” she asked when we reached the school’s parking lot.
I shook my head and managed to give her a convincing smile. After her car had left the school premises, I walked slowly towards my class.
Yes, they were talking about me. Everywhere. Be it the crowded corridors where group of girls sneered and made dirty comments or bathrooms, where everything was discussed in hushed whispers or my class where the recent post on the confession page was as trending as hash tags on Twitter – they all talked about me. And it was tough to put on a pretence. It was difficult to behave like nothing had happened when everything written in that post, affected me a lot. I acted like it was okay with me, but deep inside, I was breaking.
Over the days, though the discussion died down, I found it hard to face someone or to talk with them, because at the back of my mind, I always had a perennial fear about what he/she might be thinking about me.
All my frustration started to build up. I lived in constant fear and doubt. Each night, before I went to bed, I thought about the people who hated me and could have posted that. Too many names came to my mind. Every minute that I was free, I whiled away my time on the Confession page, stalking every post, refreshing the page every five seconds to check if there was another confession about me.
Then one day, I decided that it was enough. I couldn’t live my entire life with my face glued to some stupid Facebook page. Once or twice, I took out my frustration on posts, commenting on how derogatory certain things on the page were and that they must be stopped, but I was faced with even more criticism. Some told me that I was plain jealous because there were no good confessions about me. Others retorted that it was none of my business.
I deleted my Facebook account. I knew it was no use talking to deaf ears. And I never visited confession pages anymore.
Until last night.
One of my friends happened to forward me a link to a post on the same confession page. The post called a girl too fat and that she must get a life. Below were several comments, criticizing the girl on her weight and making cheap remarks on her clothes.
It made me sad. Depressed. To think about what the girl might be going through.
We all have flaws. Perfection is something that can’t be achieved. So what if someone is someone, they could never be? Does it give them the right to tell her whatever they wish? Does it give them the right to bully her to a point where she starves herself to fit in someone’s books?
As I happened to scroll through the various posts, I wanted to know WHY? HOW? How could people be so rude? How could they be so insensitive to post things like this about another person?
Confession pages were supposed to be fun. But halfway through, they presented a darker picture to all of us. People started using it as a platform to post rude and derogatory comments about someone and to spread rumours. Seventh grade girls were called “sluts” and senior girls were the so-called “bitches”. Are these called confessions?
I was frustrated.
Just because confession pages allowed the confessor to be anonymous, didn’t mean one could bully someone to no extent?
And what about the people who actually run these confession pages?
The few posts I saw were pretty rude and the admins of the page were quite okay with it, even joining the line and adding a few more shameful remarks!
Amidst a hundred positive things, a person will only remember the one negative comment told about him/her. That one negative comment, destroys a life. People drown into fits of depression. There have been cases of suicide due to instances of cyber bullying. After how many such incidents, are people going to learn something?
What have we done to the social networking portals?
Is it always going to remain such a scary place?
I have grown up listening to stories. Fairytales. Stories of war. Stories from Grandma. Stories of returning soldiers. And so many more. So have you all, probably.
I believe that the stories I have heard have the greatest contribution in making me the person I am, today.
The best part of a story, in my opinion is the essence of the tale – the pain or the sorrow it delivers or the bundle of joy that hits us after reading the same. The characters do play a significant role, but in the end, the story is what we are left with – the one that stays with us forever.
Sometimes, I like to miss my regular train and wait awhile at the station, because I have this (strange) habit of observing people. Each random face that I come across leaves a distinct impression on my mind. At times, I forget them. Then some days, when the weather is cold and I’m sitting by the window, watching the mist settle down from the mountains, I remember them – those people who had once graced a scene along with me. The crowded places mesmerize me, actually. Instead of the maddening chaos, what I find are melodious synchrony of people from various spheres, backgrounds and families. Each one of them tells me a story. Their eyes tell me of the conquests from their pasts. Their sighing and frowning tells me of the regrets they have. Each time, they bend down to kiss their children, they tell me of their love stories.
Often, I find myself looking at the lone man at the far end of the train. He holds a newspaper and squints as the old light flickers terribly in the compartment. He wants to know what is happening around him – what is happening in the world! Or perhaps, he wants to take his mind off certain things. So he hides his tired face with those sheets of paper. Does he have a family, I wonder. I think of his wife waiting for him, staying up late so that she can see her husband before the end of yet another day. The children have been put to bed and now, she sits at the dinner table, staring at the clock, having a hundred apprehensions run in her mind.
As the station draws closer, the man folds his newspaper and tucks it underneath his coat. His shoulders fall as he breathes out a sigh of relief. He has made it past another day. Isn’t that quite an achievement in itself?
After he gets down at his stop, I see a young girl board the compartment.
She is dressed in a rich red dress that exposes a lot of skin. The few women beside me frown in disappointment on seeing her attire. She is probably headed for a party. Every few minutes, she stands up from her seat and checks herself in the reflecting windows, making sure not a strand of her hair is out of its place. She wants to look as gorgeous as her friends do. She is seeking delusional perfection.
I have the urge to go to her and tell her that she looks beautiful. However, I want to know her entire story. Why a late night party? When is she going to return?
The woman sitting beside me keeps looking at her. Is she in awe of the dress she is wearing? Does she envy the fact that the girl is young and bold and the woman sees her youth in her? Or does she disapprove her clothes? Doesn’t she see the story that the girl is telling? Is she so busy doing a character study that she forgets to enjoy the story?
The train jerks to a stop and I have to get down. The stories remain incomplete. My questions remain unanswered.
As I get out and stand on the platform to watch the train leave, I see their silhouettes against the window. They are moving, going far away. I do not get to know the other stories they carry and it frustrates me to no end. I wish to meet them again – somewhere on the road, maybe on the same train again.
A cold wind caresses my skin and I realize the train has gone and it is time for me to leave as well. As I walk down the street, under the canopy of stars, I find myself thinking about the man. Did he reach his home safely? Is he having dinner with his wife and telling her about his day? Has the girl reached the party? Are her friends complimenting her on her dress? What about the woman? Has she gotten home, yet? Is she sitting with her daughter and reliving her own youth?
Under the faint moonlight, in the silence of the night, their stories haunt me. In some parallel universe, each one of us is a story. We hold tales of remorse, pain and joy and losses. Those tales are what we present to the world. Our stories are immortal. They are as infinite as the universe that traps us in its care. And these stories continue to live beyond time and space, presenting wonderful vignettes to lost travellers.
When we are small, we have pre-defined notions in our mind – that, we will grow up to be the best, that we will look beautiful, that we will have the best of best friends and marry the best person in the world.
It’s not wrong to have such desires. It’s not wrong to have expectations. You know, where the real problem lies?
That each one of us wants the best for themselves.
I want someone, because I think he/she is the best for me. Then again, you may want somebody else because you feel he/she is the best for you. Perhaps that is why they call desires of the heart to be dangerous and that they wreck a person. Because, the best for us doesn’t consider us as the best for them.
I have never seen a person cry. For most of my life, the people around me have always been happy. When the day of tears arrived, they left.
I know people cry when they are in pain. They cry when every breath is laboured and things do not seem to be making sense. People cry when they are weak. And some cry, even when they are strong. People like you.
Mom used to say that it is okay to cry. For one day, every tear will dry up and you can stand up again. She often used to joke around and say that crying helps clear the vision. She had a weird sense of humour, I agree. Though her words never made sense back then, I think they do, now.
Every time a person falls; every time a person is in pain; every time a person cries, it helps them get a newer perspective. For we take off our rose-tinted glasses and retrospect. And by the time we are done crying, we know already that we’ll never be crying again for the same reason.
In some wickedly strange way, crying makes us strong.
Before She Died is my newest story on Wattpad and it speaks from the POV of a girl who is lost and confused and sad.
Every day, until two long months, she wrote letters to him and
hid them in his locker. Every day, she expected him to read those
letters and try to find out who wrote them. Yet, every day, he dismissed
them as some kind of joke.
Then, one day, she left. Frustrated. Devastated. And heartbroken.
And he was left with a bunch of letters to cry on.
An excerpt from the story:
I loved your mini-speech today. The one you gave in the English class, remember? Oh, you certainly do! How can you possibly forget?
Indeed, I prefer oblivion to the truth. The truth is harsh and bitter and it blinds you with an actual glimpse of reality. We’ve never seen the entirety of truth.
Take my medicines, as an example. The doctor tells me each day that they are going to cure me; that I’m going to be able to drive; and that my fingers are going to stop shaking and I may be able to write a tad bit better. But she knows and I do too, that these drugs are slowly killing me from inside as well.
Though we may be gratified, at first, for having known the truth, deep down, it kills us as well. Because, they are meant to be bitter.
Oblivion is everybody’s last resort.
To read more, click here.