Heard that Story? It’s About Time You Do has been edited by Rushi Bhimani.
It has happened with all of us, more often than not. An old friend who you thought you know inside out, change completely, all of a sudden. You fail to recognise them anymore. Neither can you read them any longer, nor can you understand the meaning behind the things they say. It feels like there is nothing that makes them happy anymore. They get riled up for almost no reason at all. After a point, they do not even bother getting angry, which is worse.
In the past, they may have said something at the moment but ended up doing the opposite. But that was still, something. Now, it is all muddled in confusion. This is how I felt about my own mind. I could just not navigate the inside of my mind anymore.
For two years I swam aimlessly, in this abyss of unknowing. Until one day, out of the blue without any intent, I found I was clinically depressed. People won’t generally be happy by such an accidental revelation, neither was I. But now I knew why I felt the way I did. And honestly, I have never felt more crippled. Across the ocean of cuts, bruises, blood, screaming and crying, I brought myself out of it. And no one will ever know this.
You know, my grandmother was a refugee who fled to India during the partition. When she came here amidst horrifying violence and torture, all she had was the clothes on her back. She lead a rough life yet managed to acquire necessary education. She worked really hard to earn, because nobody helped her, ever. By the time she was sixty-five, she was married to one of the first software designers of the country, mingling with British high society. Together, they built a plush villa with every detail closely monitored to their liking. Every inch of it was perfect and exactly how she wanted it.
She had a terrible childhood destined to poverty and illiteracy. But, she went on to become a math teacher and laid claim on the most loving husband the world has seen, who held her hand optimistically even as she died. She built her life herself, fought hard and won. Yet, when she died, nobody knew about this.
Do you remember that boy you used to make fun of in school? The one who struggled to pass. He was awkward around girls, was not exactly “attractive” and tried to be funny. Instead, he ended up annoying everyone. Imagine this: People bullied him his whole life which affected his self-esteem. It made him awkward. Of course, he never had any real friends. He did not get into college. He spent most of his time wandering the streets, constantly on the verge of suicide.
One day, he saw someone trying to kidnap a child. He instinctively threw himself on the man with the knife and punched him hard. He poured out all his anger and frustration accumulated over the years as blows and punches onto the robber’s body. Consequently, the latter got up and ran for his life. The little child stood in awe and said, “My friends bully me. I wish I could be as cool and badass as you.” Badass. No one had ever called Rohan that before. He felt happiness and pride pumping through his veins. He felt like a hero. And he hadn’t even done much — just followed his instinct! This experience led him to an idea that grew into a passion.
Seven years later, you are at a party and there is an extremely high-ranking member of the police force who has just been awarded a Medal of Honour. He is funny, charming and oozes confidence. Everyone wants to be him. Bet you do not remember that awkward kid from school anymore? Yet, as Rohan gives his acceptance speech for the accolade, no one knows his story.
I can think of many stories like these — members of my family, my close friends, every single one of them has one, an interesting one at that. We all do know this, of course. In fact, the above paragraphs were merely snapshots of three people’s stories. There is so much more to it.
However, it kills me to know that tomorrow when I go for a job interview or when I meet someone for the first time at a dinner party, all they will see is a girl in a short blue jacket, a pair of dark trousers and a pink top, drinking a Mojito. It almost seems fake.
If only they could know my story, they would have a much better picture of who I am, a much truer judgement for better or worse. It would be much more real. The top and the drink are probably the most misleading aspects of me. I feel like every interaction I have with anyone is a dishonest one at best.
I, like many others, am itching to tell my story. But who will listen? Who has the time to? I definitely do not have the time to listen to anyone’s stories. I do not expect others to have time for mine. In fact, I do not have the time to tell it.
Everyone has their own challenges. There are ups and downs, massive achievements and dramatic twists of plot. There is not a single person on the face of the earth who has not been through any experiences and does not have a lot to say.
However, in all likelihood, none of us will ever have the time to know the stories of the people in our lives. If we listen intently, we may know one. I am not here to tell you to find out everyone’s story. Instead, I am here to say that the next time you go to a party and meet someone new, respect the fact that they have a story to tell. So, even if we do not know their stories, respecting the fact that people have a story may just make our interactions a little less dishonest and a little more open to storytelling.
Author’s note: This is a work of semi-fiction and not all of the information given above about myself and my grandmother — and of course, none about fictional Rohan — are true. Some things are true and some are not. I will retain a certain peace of mind in knowing that I will never divest which is which.