Counting Down… Endlessly.

“I’m not alone.”

I say that because it’s what’s kept me sane for so long. As we went through lockdown and phases of reopening, my heart felt okay because I wasn’t alone. If I needed help, if I needed a hug, if I needed nothing but another human body to sit within my line of sight – I had someone.

I told myself every day that it made all the difference. For months, it really did. But as we continue to struggle with a world we didn’t think we’d ever encounter, it’s not working. My reasons, my excuses, my ability to convince myself – they don’t make sense anymore.

To no reflection of the person sitting with me, holding my hand and telling me it’ll be okay, I find myself feeling not okay.

People have different relationships that they’ve been stranded away from. I’m now counting 6 months since I last saw my parents. 6 months since I was home with them. 6 months since I last cuddled my aging dog. It’s the longest I’ve ever been separated from any of them but that’s not the problem.

The 6 months I’ve stayed apart has already passed. I’ve lived through it. Can’t change anything about it. It’s the future.

April 2020 – I told myself I’ll be with them by October. Flights will resume. The world will be healing.

June 2020 – I told myself I’ll be with them by December. It’s slower but everything will be fine.

We’re at the end of July – February 2021 seems almost unrealistic. Like something I can’t plan for because I don’t know if the world will heal – by then, if ever at all. I’ve watched my friends who live alone struggle with the depression that came from the negative news cycles. I encouraged them to remain positive. To not absorb it. I told them when restaurants opened, I’ll be there for a cup of coffee, maybe some cake?

But somehow, it was the opening of things that really made all the difference. When life showed me a glimpse of normal, I felt trapped – it was like dangling a dream in front of me that I couldn’t grasp. I could go out, I could meet people, I could laugh and giggle and have the time of my life – just not with my family.

I can’t get on an impulsive flight over a weekend because I missed my dog too much. I can’t go running to my Mom when my brain was overworked. I can’t be sitting across my Dad in conversation about my understanding of the world.

Before the pandemic, I got through long weeks by counting down days until my next flight home. I can’t do that anymore. For every week that passes, months add on. And that flight… it seems farther and farther away.

Maybe, at almost 28, it sounds ridiculous. Maybe, almost married, it sounds immature. Maybe, my parents are right, how could I be such a baby and cry?

But of all the things that COVID has thrown my way, healing a part of the world and not the rest has been the toughest to deal with.

I don’t know if we’ll ever go back to normal. I don’t know when I’ll get to hold my family – furry and human – close to me again. But I know I’m not the only one stuck like I am.

Do your part in keeping yourself safe and reducing the spread. When you help yourself, you help us all.

I’m Depressed

There. I’ve said it. It’s not the first time. But I don’t want to say it again.

I’m depressed.

Not your milennial kind. Sitting at a cafe, rolling my eyes at the girl I don’t like and complaining about singledom, “Ohmygod! I’m so depressed!” No. Not that kind.

The real one. The emotional kind that people tend to treat lightly because they don’t understand how serious it can possibly be. So, welcome to my world.

I’m not an actress. My life isn’t a Bollywood movie. I’m not sitting by the window, staring into space and nothingness. I don’t have a single tear running down my face as I lose sight of what’s happening around me. I’m not snapped back to reality. A hug isn’t going to heal me. A boyfriend cannot fix me.

This is real.

I’m right beside you. I’m not in hiding. I’m everywhere I need to be. I’m talking to you when you’re talking to me. I sound like I do everyday but I care a lot less. You just can’t tell. I show up to the event, dressed like a dream. You can’t tell it took me effort to put it all on. Not physical. Emotional. To get out of bed and prepare myself to smile with a world I can’t connect to anymore.

I can’t tell you I’d rather be at home. Not listening to you talk about problems that don’t affect me and having to give you comforting advice when I can’t even think. I can’t tell you I’m two seconds away from breaking apart even when I seem to be laughing.

You help me. Sitting across the table, as a best friend. You help me. Knocking on my door for a small conversation. You help me. A distraction for a few seconds. But you can’t take it away.

I want to confide. To tell you how I spiral. To tell you how this is all too much. I think I’ve taken on more than I can chew. My overthinking has taken me by my hand and led me back to my dark place. I was depressed a few years ago. I think it’s back for me. Or maybe it never stopped at all.

I wake up every morning. I walk out the door, that takes a lot of effort. I look through my checklist, ticking off things that pay my bills. I eat my lunch to Netflix. I come back home, turn the lights on, find my corner of the bed and suddenly I’m lost. I switch between streaming platforms. I grab my phone and get on Instagram. There’s nothing to watch. Nobody to see. I don’t care about any of it. But I have to. Because if I’m not watching Mike Ross fight with Harvey Specter or Lorelai and Rory Gilmore fast talk their way through Luke’s coffee, I’d want to slam my head against the wall, crying.

I ask myself everyday. Is it the end of my relationship? Is it the amount of work? Is it the personal woes? The inability to give back to the people who gave me everything? Is it the drowning debt? My answer is the same every time. No.

Someone once asked me what depression feels like. “Is it a state of mind? Can’t you change your state of mind?” I tried to tell her.

It’s like an empty room that hasn’t been lived in for decades. It’s hollow, your voice echoes multifold. So your worries echo multifold. It’s dirty, not the sexy kind. It’s broken windows and rusty doors. It’s haunting without the ghosts. It’s a feeling of sinking. Like something bad is always going to happen. But it’s not. You know it’s not. Yet you feel like it just did. You feel like you’ve lost. Maybe it’s the loss of life in that room. Or the loss of happiness. The loss of light. It’s a dark room. Maybe there’s light. All it takes is the flick of a switch. But you’re stuck. You can’t get up and turn it on.

She asked me why. I didn’t have an answer.

My depression doesn’t need a reason to cling on to. My emotions don’t have to explain themselves for sinking again. I can’t write down why I’m not okay. But it’s the truth. I’m not okay.

How do you ask for help when you don’t know what you need help with? What do I say?

“Hey, I’m depressed. I don’t know why. I don’t know the fix. But help me?”

What do they go on with? What solution do they give to a problem I can’t describe?

So I try what I always have. To smile. Maybe if I smile enough, the happiness will become real. I try to giggle. Perhaps the silliness will help lighten up my heart. I try to create. Art helped me once, so it should again? I try to live. But as I sat there at that boardwalk, staring at fireworks, my sister turned to me, “Are you crying?”

I had to say no because I didn’t want to explain myself. But the truth was… Yes. The fireworks made me cry. I don’t know why. They always make me happy. And I was happy. But something within me made me cry. Because I wasn’t really happy.

How do you explain that?

Things that bring me an abundance of joy cannot lift me out of this dark hole I find myself stuck in over and over again. Maybe we’re all depressed and we just don’t admit it to each other. Maybe as you’re reading this, you’re relating. But you can’t tell anyone either because when they ask, “Your life is amazing. What do you have to be depressed about?” what do you say?

What do I say?

So I shrug my shoulders, look down in guilt and swallow my tears. I look at them, a lump in my throat and softly say,

“I’m not okay.”

 

From The One Who Lost Control

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I sat there. On the corner of my bed. Clutching my computer. Trying to find something, anything to distract myself from what I knew was happening to me. I went from E! to YouTube, Superwoman to Brad Pitt’s FBI case – if only I could find one thing that takes my mind away from this spiral I knew was around the corner.

But it was too late.

It was too late when I was on that bus, trying to text my boyfriend – my source of happiness. It was too late when I pretended to mull over what bread I want at FairPrice. It was too late when I made dinner like I was completely okay. It was just too late.

And so it happened. One tear drop at a time. A slow shiver that took over my hands and legs. I suddenly couldn’t breathe anymore. My desperation to hold onto anything that was sanity, slowly slipping away from my fingers. The lump in my throat, now a sob. I held onto my hair, willing myself to stop. Begging my emotions to take control of themselves. The pain spread from the back of my head to my chest. I knew I was too far gone to control anymore.

An hour later, I was starving. But I wouldn’t get up. If I get up, everything will fall apart. If I move from here, something will go wrong. I won’t. I can’t. I can’t. I CAN’T!

A fear that wrapped its arms so tightly around me, I felt bound to my bed, unable to move. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t stop sobbing. It wouldn’t stop hurting.

The kind soul that chose me had to calm down an absolute mess of an adult who didn’t know how to stop being afraid of absolutely nothing.

So we talked about my day. “I made coffee. I showered. I went to study group.” One sentence after the other, I stuttered myself better just long enough to go get food.

But then at the kitchen, his call dropped. And so did I. To my knees with fear and tears until it was connected again because, “I’m terrified.”

A part of me so ashamed that this is what my life had come to. That I had to showcase my biggest vulnerability over a video call. That I needed someone else to help me. It didn’t help the tears. It didn’t help my racing heart.

Leave me. Find someone who isn’t on the kitchen floor when you don’t speak for ten seconds. Go away. But don’t. Because I don’t want you, I need you. I need help. Help me. But go be happy. I’m a mess. Go. Just.. don’t go. 

This doesn’t paint a very pretty picture, does it?

But this is what an anxiety attack is.

24 hours later, I’m still feeling shaky. I’m still struggling to not lose control to it. But it will happen. And I will yet again feel like my world is crushing me as it falls apart when everything is as it was fifteen minutes ago.

I’m lucky, though. I have someone to help me.

Not everyone does. So listen carefully. If your friend / family mentions anxiety, listen carefully. It’s not Want you hear.

It’s a desperate Need.

 

 

 

 

Looks Can Be Deceiving

I want to start this blog with a little activity / homework / experiment, whatever you want to call it, for you. When you’re out on the street, somewhere, I want you to look at a person and I want you to judge them by how they look. Think of the nastiest, bitchiest and rudest comments you possibly can, all because of how that person looks. Like “Oh. Look at her face. So snooty. I bet she’s an effing.. something.” Any name calling, any amount of judgement you can possibly pass about that person.

Now I want you to walk up to them and I want you to shove all that judgement away and put on a sweet voice and as genuine a smile as you can and tell them, “Hey. I’m sorry if I’m intruding. I was just standing there and I constantly kept feeling like you’re going through something rough. You don’t have to tell me what it is. I don’t have to know. I just felt the need to tell you that whatever it is, it’s going to be ok. I promise, you’ll figure it out. Just remember to smile.” Right before you walk away, I want you to take one look at that person’s face.

I assure you that almost always, the person won’t say, “No. I’m fantastic.” They might not open up to you, but their faces will have a look of surprise and gratefulness. Because they needed to hear that. Because they are going through something rough. They just don’t wear it on their faces all the time and you just gave them hope when they needed it the most.

You can go on and try this with as many people as you want because every one of us has a story to tell. A sad, depressing story. A life altering story. We might not look like we do, we might not act like we do, but you know it’s there. In your life, in mine and similarly in others’.

Have you heard of Humans of New York? It is a page run by a man named Brandon. He walks around the streets of New York taking pictures of people and learning a little about them. It’s by far one of my favorite social media pages. In his page, recently, there was a picture of a man with a cut on his hand. I, of course, judged him for cutting himself like that. What cowardly behavior. If you or someone you know is into hurting themselves, please stop. Yourself and them. Nothing comes out of hurting yourself. It is stupid, it is painful and in my very very honest opinion, selfish because you didn’t stop to think how this affects the people who love you. You only care about yourself when you’re inflicting pain on yourself and that is not something to pity. That is something to despise.

I want you to think about all the times you’ve done this. All the times you’ve judged a person by the way they look, by what you see on them rather than in them. I want you to take a moment and think if those judgements might actually be true. If that person is truly what you thought they were. Do you actually believe your judgements were right?

“There’s a story behind every person. There’s a reason why they’re the way they are. They aren’t just like that because they want to. Something in the past created them and sometimes it’s impossible to fix them. But that’s not your problem. And it’s definitely not your place to judge.”

One of the main things I like about Humans of New York are the quotes next to the pictures that show you a part of the person you might not normally see or get to know. The person inside the looks and the clothes and the cuts. After I was done judging the man, I read what he said:

“I had forty acres and a new home out in California. I was working as a stone mason. I could bring in $6000 cash some weeks. Then I was walking home one night and someone tried to kill me. I got brain damage. I lost my sense of smell, my sense of taste, most of my hearing, and now I can barely stand without getting dizzy. I must have fallen and cracked my head open thirty times since then. Everything I knew has been washed out into the water. I’ve tried to commit suicide several times.”

That changes everything, doesn’t it? I cannot begin to explain how many times since then I’ve felt sorry. How many times I’ve wished I could walk up to that man and apologize for judging him without knowing him. Ever since, I’ve tried my best to stop myself from doing that. Every time I find myself judging someone for the way they look, I stop myself and instead I smile at them. For all you know, that one time they smile back at you, may be the only smile they give out all day long. Why shouldn’t you be the one that does that for them?!

Because.. think about it. Someone out there is judging you too. They’re looking at you and passing rude comments in their head or to the person next to them. Do you want that? Do you want to hear the horrible things they think about you without knowing you at all? Do you think it’s right that they do that? And if it’s wrong when they do it, how is it right when you do it?

Now, I’m not expecting you to change everything today. We’re humans. We’re made this way and it’s difficult to change. But you have to start somewhere.

So, I’ll take the first step. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the crticism, I’m sorry for all the hatred and most importantly,

I am incredibly sorry for passing judgements instead of extending love. You deserve better than that.

With all my love,

To You.

 

Life goes on..

Today, May 4, is the birthday of someone very very close to me. “Happy Birthday bro..” It’s been a while since I met him and when he saw me he said, “You look bright. Full of hope. It’s nice to see you like this again.”

Last year I had to give up almost everything I had. My plans changed, my life changed. I spent the entire year in depression. Everything made me cry. There was a point when I believed things will never change. That my life was over and all I have to do is sit and just let the end come when it may. Now when I say it, I realize how over-dramatic that sounds. But at that point in my life it seemed like the most logical thought process one can ever have at a time like that.

It’s funny how when something bad happens, we believe that it’s the end. I’m not talking about a fatal sickness or an accident but rather just incidents. When you quit / get expelled from university, when you get fired, when you break up with your loved one, when someone close to you passes away or even when you fail an exam or miss your dream university by 2 points. It seems like a life or death situation. I mean, I get that it possibly is very life altering but it’s never the end.

It took me one and half years of moping around before I decided that I have to change things. ONE AND HALF YEARS ! You know how much I could’ve done in one day? Let alone 500 days ! 500 days before I realized it’s not the end because it’s not happy. That in fact, all I had to do was accept that things have changed. Because the only thing constant in our lives is change and the best I can do is to make use of all that I’ve got. I mean, I’m sure I could’ve sat around another year and half dreaming of what could’ve been but that’s just another 500 days that I won’t get back.

In my life, I’ve learnt that there’s nothing better than dreaming big. Dream what nobody dares to dream of. Dream to fly. Like Peter Pan. To just take off to Neverland. But that’s impossible if you never put your feet on the ground. Even a flight has to hit the runway, move forward and only then can it fly. Sitting idle and wondering about would-be’s and could-have-been’s will never get you anywhere. You have to put one foot in front of the other and walk forward.

I’m not a settler. I’ve missed what many would call “incredible opportunities.” When my previous dream crashed, I had to get a new one. I wasn’t, and I’m still not, mentally prepared to create a big dream again. I’m afraid that it’ll crash too. So I set my goals a little lower. Instead of a big future plan, I set my eyes on simpler things. Things that are more NOW than five to ten years from now – A company that’s not really easy to get into. A publisher that probably won’t even take a second look at my manuscript. I told myself that I won’t take anything besides this. I will get into that company if it’s the last thing I did. I will send the publisher every story I will ever write and at some point, I’m going to write something they will publish.

Think back the years you’ve lived through. How many moments have you had where you thought it’s the end of the world and it wasn’t? No, I’m not talking about December 22, 2012. I mean, you’ve lived through tough times. You’ve moved forward when you thought you wouldn’t. You’re alive and present. When you think about it you’ll realize that all those bad experiences have only made you stronger. Brave. Never weak.

Two years ago, I had it all. I didn’t work as hard as I could have. I didn’t make use of the opportunities. Now I can’t go back. I have to look ahead and I feel stronger than I ever did. Positive that if I could live through that, then I’m sure I can live through the next disaster and the next and the next. Because.. Have you ever sat in front of the ocean and stared at it? You know how beautiful and mentally soothing a view like that is? The way the waves move and hit the shore. The salty smell that comes from it.. Now, imagine sitting in front of the same ocean but this time, it’s still. No waves, no sea salt smell. Just still water. It’s not as beautiful, is it?! That’s life too. It has to have its ups and downs. I promise every wave has something incredible to give to you. A life lesson, a person, a memory.. And when you look at it as a whole, it’s beautiful.

No matter sunny or rainy, draught or storms, the waves in the ocean never stops.. The way, no matter how hard it gets, no matter how many times you tell yourself it’s over, life goes on..

Life Choices : Choose Happiness

My friend and I were just having a very heated argument about life choices. The guy I have the world’s biggest crush on works at a giant corporate and gets paid a pretty decent amount. He can ask the company to send him a cab every morning to take him to work and back, he gets a bonus for every holiday, health insurance – pretty much the whole package. Here’s the catch : He hates his job ! He always talks about how every minute he spends there he feels like he’s going insane. So why on Earth can he not quit his job and do something he loves? “The money it pays.”

I’m an intern at an advertising agency. I don’t get paid at all. But I find a reason to wake up every morning and show up here because I love what I do. Isn’t that what life is supposed to be like? Doesn’t every person deserve the right to happiness? Should money really dictate his life? That was my side of the argument when my friend fired back at me, “What about his family crisis? What if they need the money he makes?” I did not have an answer to that. So I paused as I ran that idea through my mind. My parents don’t expect my money. So I can make a choice that makes me happy. But can everyone afford to do that? Can everyone choose to be selfish when in fact, maybe his parents have been waiting for him to graduate so he can contribute to the income in his household? How can I suggest that he stop doing that?

Here’s how. Sure, they need the money. But parents who have waited for four years for him to complete his university, can wait a few more for him to make this kind of money again. Except, this time around, he’ll make that money happily. My friend got a job that he loves. But he can’t take it. I asked him why and he told me that his dad had made a comment : “When you’re getting your sister married, you expect the guy to have triple degrees. What’s to say that the girl who marries you won’t expect the same of you? You have to study more.” (This is in accordance to the Indian arranged marriage system) But shouldn’t the girl he’s with care that her husband is someone that is mentally happy and peaceful? Should she just look at his bank account? Should he marry someone like that?

My crush isn’t the only person I’ve known to complain of these things. My friends who work in similar companies pretty much all hate their jobs. “I have to work weekends.” “I have to work night shifts.” “I don’t get a holiday for New Year.” But why? If majority of the employees feel this way, why can’t the companies make a difference? What are the organizations doing that keeps their employees so mentally depressed and stressed? Why aren’t the employees (who are in majority) taking a stand against it and saying “I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY !” ?

My dad’s friend was talking about how his son had quit Harvard Law to pursue music, about how much he hated his son for giving up what so many other kids in this world would kill for. But in the end, he understood that his son is now happy. He smiled at his happiness. He said “Isn’t that what we parents want in the end? A happy child?!” I assure you three quarters of the parents in this world are no different to this one. They might be furious in the beginning, but in the end, they’ll be happy that you’re happy. So why is it so difficult for us to make this choice?

Why do we fail to see thirty years into the future? You need the money now. Sure. You’re unhappy now, but you earn enough to save for the future. What future? You’re not going to quit when you’re forty and take a trip around the world. You’re stuck in a job you hate already and thirty years from now, you’re still going to be stuck in a job you hate. Only then, you’ll be taking your stress and depression home and instead of depressing only yourself, you’re going to be depressing your entire family.

So think wisely now. Make life choices not based on financials or current situation, but plan them for what your life would be like ten or fifteen years from now. Choose to be happy rather than rich. When you’re working out of your mind with no time for anyone, you’re not living. But even if you don’t make enough money and don’t live in a fancy beach side duplex, when you’re happy, you’ll attract people and those people will always be there for you. You’ll have all the love in the world. Isn’t that what life’s all about anyway?!

Cancer and the Battle | World Cancer Day 2014

A couple of days ago, I read the book “The Fault in our Stars” by John Green. Though it may sound overdramatic, I’m simply being honest when I say, that book killed a part of me. To lose someone you love is tragic. But to lose someone you love for no fault of his/hers is unfair. It’s also the definition of Cancer. Every day you hear stories about it. Our parents, our well-wishers inform us about the vaccines that prevent it and advise us to get it done immediately. If we have lost someone in our family to Cancer, we live in fear that we might end up having to battle with it someday.

I lost two granddads and a grandmother to Cancer. Last year, I also lost an aunt to Cancer. I can never say I lost them because of Cancer. They didn’t die because of cancer. They fought a battle. A war, even. But they lost. They lost to a disease that seems to be affecting more and more people all around us every single day.

The thing is, if someone dies of a head injury, a drunk and drive accident or even a cardiac arrest, I’d get over it. Maybe not immediately, but at some point I’d accept it and move on. But I can’t seem to do that when I lose someone to Cancer.  Because they didn’t just die. They didn’t just say “Hey, I have Cancer” and fall flat to the ground. The pain, the agony, the screaming and shouting, the mood swings, the humiliation they feel, the loss of self-esteem, the loss of a life they dreamt they’d live, the regret they feel for putting their loved ones through so much pain, hurt and trauma – if this was so upsetting for my aunt who was above 60, imagine what this is like for a 6-year-old. An 8-year-old. A teenager.

Beyond the victims, imagine the trouble their loved ones go through. The mental torture. Every time I think of it, I just want to hug them. Every parent, every child, every husband, every wife and every friend that has had to lose someone they love to Cancer. There’s a part in this book where the mother says to her husband when they think their daughter is about to pass away, “I won’t be a mother anymore.” That broke my heart. It might be a fictional story but I can imagine so many mothers out there having to live with that as a reality. What did she do to deserve that? What did that poor child attached to twenty different tubes do to deserve that?

Especially, to learn that the cancer has been cured in their system, only to go back to the hospital three years later and realize “the Cancer’s back.” I have no words to describe that emotion. I can only hope that the love and the support they find around them gives them the strength to fight and win that battle a second time. In my mother’s friend’s case, a third time.

I would have loved for an opportunity to meet my granddads. The way my nieces/nephews would someday wish to meet their grandmother and I’ll them the story my parents told me. The story of how the vicious and scary ghost of a sickness and my aunt got into a fight. How she lost to it because she didn’t have the love of a very very very adorable little child. They’ll live with that story until they grow old and learn all about Cancer. How all the love in this world couldn’t have saved her. In fact, all the love in this world cannot save anyone battling with Cancer. But it can make the difficult journey a tad bit easier.

So on World Cancer Day, this February 4th, join me along with a million others across the world to raise awareness about that vicious and scary ghost of a sickness. Teach the world to accept and love the ones struggling to fight Cancer.  It might not save them, nothing but their own strength and possibly a cure for cancer can save them, but I assure you, it’ll make their journey a lot easier.

If you or anyone you know wish to give or seek support, there are so many websites and organizations that will connect you to the patients and their families. You can simply Google them.

Last but not least, if you are someone battling with Cancer, I want you to know, you have my love and support and I will be waiting for you at the winner’s lounge. Last round’s on me ‘kay? 🙂

The People Who Change Your Life

“There will always be a reason why you meet people. Either you need them to change your life or you’re the one that will change theirs.”

– Sushan R. Sharma

I didn’t believe in this statement because I was oblivious to it. I thought the decisions that changed my life were always mine. But it’s incredible how someone who has had minimum to no important role in your life can influence you in a way you can’t define.

When I graduated high school, I was at cross roads. I didn’t know what to do with my life. College? Work? Marriage? I had no clue. Then I befriended someone on Facebook. We’d attended the same school and we knew the same people. So we started “chatting.” He asked me what I did for a living and I said, “Nothing. Still trying to make a life choice.” He then asked me what I’m interested in and what I like doing and I told him I’m very interested in music, movies, writing and so on. We got into a more detailed conversation about it and he said I sounded like a media person – “Mass communication or if you know what you like, a specialization course in film making or audio engineering. Study that. I think you’ll like that. You can even try applying for my university.” It was a passing comment in an unimportant conversation. I didn’t realize it had made an impact. I didn’t realize that he was the reason, two months later, I’d looked at those options. I didn’t choose the university he’d suggested. But I ended up pursuing media in a university of my choice.

Until a few months back, I honestly believed it had been my choice to pursue a degree in media at university. I was the one that wanted to do this. He and I had lost touch and I’d even forgotten all about him. Then one day, a friend of mine mentioned his name and I said “Oh wait ! What about him?” Apparently, he’d had a cardiac arrest and had sunk into coma. His parents were praying for their son’s life. It shook my heart because in that moment I realized, the reason for my happiness, the reason for my new goals and career choices had come from him. When I’d had no idea what to do, he’d given me direction. What he had mentioned as an option in a passing comment, I’d explored and made a life out of. The worst part, I’d never thought of it that way. I had always believed it was all me.

This pushed me to wonder how many more life choices of mine have been influenced by other people. It blew my mind when I realized how my life constantly changed for the better and worse because of the people I met and the things they said. How I’ve made choices based on simple conversations.

I don’t know how many of you remember Orkut – A social media website created by Google. It was India’s biggest “It” site before Facebook. In 8th grade, a girl in my class suddenly turned to me as I was leaving and asked, “Do you have an Orkut account?” I had no idea what it was. I’d never even heard of it. If she hadn’t mentioned it, I probably never would have. But that day, I ran home and figured it out. I even opened an Orkut account. An account that has changed my life in such an incredibly massive way. It has given me the worst memories I can imagine. But it has also given me someone I call my best friend today. Orkut was the reason I wanted to study abroad. Studying abroad, I met different people. I learnt new cultures. I explored boundaries. I set my own limitations. I also met a girl who later on moved to the country my dad lived in. So we hung out every time I visited my father. That girl started dating a really friendly guy and he introduced us to his friends. With one of his friends, I ended up having my first serious relationship. The worst and the best man I’ve met so far. That guy became the reason I picked a university in that part of the world. The course, however, influenced by a man now in coma on a hospital bed.

I met a girl at that university. She helped me through my break up and we became best friends. She cared for me, loved me and today, she’s like a sister to me. She made me want to be a better version of myself. She always told me, “Stand tall. You’re worth it.” With her words, my family’s support and an accepting society, I figured myself out. I took pride in who I was.

Accepting myself, I also learnt my likes and dislikes. This helped me find other people who were like-minded to me. I dated one of them who introduced me to his friend. That friend and I became pretty close as we both volunteered at a film festival. He taught me about his culture and the customs in his religion which made me curious and I figured out my dream job. After travelling innumerous hours across the globe and learning so many new things, I know now, I want to travel and live in different places and learn new cultures and languages and write about them. Something so very different from my former dream job as a “House wife,” modernly known as “Home-maker.”

Funny, to think, it all started with a casual “Do you have an Orkut account?” !

Honestly, take a second. Think back. You’ll realize just how none of your choices actually really came from you. Your worst enemy will start feeling like the best thing that ever happened to you.

I call my friend every other day and ask him, “How’s he doing? Is he awake from the coma?” My friend always wants to know why I’m so interested. I never tell him the story. The story of the guy that changed my life.

It’s a story I will keep to myself. When he wakes up, which I honestly hope he does, I will find an opportunity to thank him. For giving me a choice. For giving me a dream. For giving me a life. Until then…

 

Update : The guy passed away on the 22nd of June 2014. His mother was by his side and his close friends and family went to the funeral and paid their respect.

Depression

Have you ever had that feeling where you’re so lost you have no idea what to do or where to look?
You’re trying to find an escape, but you feel like you’re in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by nothing but water .
Everything feels dull. No matter what you do, there’s a part of you that’s missing.
But here’s the problem, you don’t know what it is that you’re missing. At times, it feels like you’re missing everything.
At times, it feels like you’re not really missing anything. You’re, in fact, stuck with all the things one could imagine.
Except the things you want.
You’re surrounded by the people you love, who love you and yet you feel unloved.
You laugh and it feels like you’re doing it through someone else’s body.
Your life becomes a routine. You’re a machine that knows :
Get up. Brush. Shower. Eat. Watch TV. Go out. Look like you’re having fun. Change. Sleep.
Nothing stays in your head. Nothing except an empty feeling. A need to be somewhere else. To have something else.
But you don’t know where. If you know where, you don’t know how to get there.
It’s like getting to Neverland and meeting Peter Pan.
Yet it feels so realistic in your head. Like it’s right there. But you can’t touch it.
You want a particular someone, or rather just anyone, to walk up to you and pick you up.
To mend the broken pieces that only you can see.
To hold you close until you’re all fixed up and can stand on your feet again.
To tell you, no matter what, tomorrow will be a better day.
But even as you read this, you know, no matter what they say, you won’t believe it.
Waking up tomorrow is a pain you don’t want.
You stay awake all night and sleep all day because it’s your way of avoiding conversations during the day.
You push people away and they have no clue that it’s hurting you more to do that, than it’s hurting them.
But you can’t let them in. You can’t let them too close.. You can’t let them see..
That even if you look like you’re having fun.. Even if you’re smiling..

Deep inside, your heart is dying.

The People Around You

When we’re walking on the streets, wrapped up in our thoughts, we forget that there’s a world that’s buzzing with life around us.. Have you ever stopped and looked at someone and wondered? Have you ever looked at a teenager and wondered what kind of home they go back to? Have you ever stopped and stared at a person in a suit and wondered what kind of pathetic boss they work for? Have you ever smiled at a kid that is enjoying whatever little time he/she has left as an innocent before the big bad world corrupts their brain? Do you ever take a moment of your journey to look at someone’s life other than yours? I did once and it changed every journey I ever took from that day on..

It was a regular day back from university to my apartment and I was so wrapped up with music and social networking that I almost didn’t notice.. You know how we have friends? We laugh, we fight, we giggle, we tease and we make the lamest jokes in the world? I saw a gang of seven people, in an MRT, do that.. through sign language. I might not have understood everything they signed, but I understood that laughter, I understood what it meant when one of those guys shook his head and closed his eyes while laughing uncontrollably.. I looked around me and saw every person around them stare at them in awe and they didn’t even know about it.. I will never forget the tiny tear a woman wiped from her eyes as she looked at these people who have so much more to whine about than you and I do, but yet they were so happy, so filled with joy..

Somehow, since then, I always look around, I always notice.. Those old aunties who laughed so much they had tears coming from their eyes, that cute couple that would not stop staring into each other’s eyes so so lovingly that it started to annoy the shit out of me, that little kid that dangled her legs because her feet wouldn’t touch the ground, that random kid who smiled at me for no reason when standing in line at Starbucks, that girl at the market that always gives me and my mum some extra vegetables out of kindness, that mother who was texting her husband about their divorce while still cooing at her daughter in the pink tutu, the mentally ill homeless guy that wandered near my old house and always had a smile to give, that old woman selling bananas who probably went back to a small house with barely any food to eat and yet asks you how you’re doing..

Take a moment, look around you.. Look at every life around you.. At all the happiness around you.. At all the people that are probably in way more shit than you’re in right now.. And give them a smile, just because.

For all you know, that’s probably the best thing that happened to them all day..