A CONVERSATION WITH SOMEBODY
I am N ….Naina Thakur and this is my story. Not only mine but also yours. You are as chained as I am, handcuffed and shackled...and this conversation is as important to you as it is to me.
N- Hey Hi.
Somebody- Hi, you are talking to me?
N- Ya. May I know your name, please?
Somebody- aha! My name?
N- Yeah! I have been following you for 36 years and I still don't know who you are. Today I saw you, again, and thought of asking. I went asking my grandfather who is 88 and he seemed to be clueless.
Somebody- He didn't know? That's strange. I thought by 88 you become wise enough to know pretty much everything.
N- O common. Don't beat around the bush. Just tell me who you are?
Somebody- Why don't you go and ask your mum or dad?
N- My mum? Well, yeah, I remember she was the one who spoke about you. Yes, I remember. I have heard her talk about you often. In fact, she is the one who introduced you to me, but she called you 'somebody'. Is that your name really?
N- Then? Why don't you just say it? What's the big deal?
Somebody- Go and ask your mum, what is the big deal? Why are you asking me?
N- Aarrrghhh... I am asking you because you have made my life miserable. Ever since I remember, you have been an obstacle in everything I have truly wanted to do. All through my growing years, you crept in from nowhere, governed my words and action and I had to keep SHUT both in words and actions because of you. And to top it all, I wasn’t even given an explanation as to why I should or should not do something. I didn’t like it. I was just asked to SHUT UP because of you. And many times I was compelled to ‘GET UP' because of you. You would think badly of me, you would think funny of me, so I had to SHUT up. You would think good of me, you would think nice about me, so I had to GET up. Why?
What you think of me is so important that I can't take a step without thinking of you. How you perceive me is so crucial to my life that I take a step forward and then take two backwards, only because I am not sure how 'YOU' think about it. I gather all the courage and hope to do something and there you come creating doubt and suspicion. How am I supposed to handle that? And, why should I? I still remember, I was in 5th grade and you refrained me from going up on the stage and sing that funny song. Trust me, that song was good, really good. It would have left the audience in splits and entertained, but mum said- "don't sing that. It sounds silly. What will somebody think?” What was so wrong with that song? I kept wondering and who was this 'SOMEBODY'?
And then, when I was 16, as the length of my skirt reached the ankle, I was left floundering; what is so grossly wrong with short dress. My parents felt that it would draw too much attention. "What will somebody think? How does she dress up?" mom’s eyebrows resembling a steep hill. I kept wondering why and who was this 'SOMEBODY' who judged my character by the way I dressed up.
Later, I wanted to do hotel management after my 12th grade and become a Chef. I was questioned again, only because of you. "You sure you? You want to become a Chef? What will somebody think? We are all doctors and engineers and civil servants all around. A cook…... really?" My dad lamented.
So, years later, as I slogged through the corporate corridors, crunching numbers which made no sense, I kept wondering about you and the dreams you stole.
How much I wanted to marry Nanda Kumar SV, the metrosexual corporate sales manager. We were a match made in the office corridors of Airtel, and, then, you came with the sharpest affliction. "Being a North Indian you want to marry a South Indian. What will somebody think? It's not done," my dad mortified by my disclosure. I didn't have the heart to break his heart and so I broke the other heart and mine too. All because you didn't approve of it.
You have held me back from living my life. On numerous occasion, big or small, I had to arrest my dreams, haul up my thoughts and settle for what YOU wanted. You are my biggest adversary and I lost to you every time. But enough is enough. I am 38 now and I have kids. They are young and impressionable. I do not want them to grow tway I grew up. It is taking me immense strength to hold back. You see, you are so deeply embedded in me. So, I thought to talk to you and settle this once and for all. I have suffered enough. Unless I know who you are, I am not going to let you befriend my child. That's final. You need to be someone to rule my life the way you do, compel me to make choices which I don't want to and plant seeds of self-doubt every time I am to embark on something. Are you GOD?
Somebody- Woah! That was long. I didn't know I have caused so much trouble to you. It’s a sad story for sure and you have my sympathies. But why are you putting the burden of all your woes on me? You created me, you chose to live with me, by me and now I am being accused. No one talks to me like that. You know I am SOMEBODY and I rule your life. Ha ha ha!!!
Keeping the jokes miles apart, I feel sorry for you and hear me out, for I have something to say too. Your mum introduced you to me just the way her mum did to her. I run through generations and across time. The first time or the second time you felt uncomfortable about me, you should have asked your mum, questioned her, refuted her, reasoned with her. She didn't tell you then, so let me tell you now.
I AM NOBODY.
I take any form- your relative, your friend or your neighbor and comes to you at the various juncture of your life. To do what? To dissuade you from 'not living your life the way you want’. I don’t like it. I don't like people getting bold and courageous, trying new things, taking risks and succeeding in life. I feel envious when people make efforts to realize their dreams and so I pop up every time to plant the seeds of fear, self-doubt to hold them back. And I succeed. Most of the times I do. I win.
I rarely meet people who rise above the fear and self-doubt and take that step. I don't really like them though, but that's them.
N- What? You want people to lose in life? Really. Ouch! That’s so not done.
Somebody- Yes. I do. And sometimes I am the reason for their success and happiness too. Remember when your mum said -" Do well in your 10th board exam. When somebody will hear, they will think... there goes the daughter of that IIT engineer. Like father, like daughter. " And what did you do? You put in more efforts just to please me.
Thus, you spend your entire life positioning yourself, your words, your thoughts, your action to SUIT me. Does that make me happy? Yes. I guess. But I have laughed and mocked at you every time you altered yourself to appease me. I never understood why you did what you did. To me, you looked like a fool. How can you live your life on the whims and fancies of SOMEBODY? That SOMEBODY has no inkling of your life circumstances, financial wellness, physical and emotional well-being and your dreams. What makes you surrender then and get dictated by SOMEBODY? Let me tell you the biggest truth today- I am NOBODY. I repeat I AM NOBODY and I don't live out there. I live within you. YOU SEE, I AM THE MONKEY, WHO IS NOT ON YOUR BACK, I AM INSIDE YOU.
Somebody- Yes. I reside within. When you are born, I am planted in you by your parents. Then watered and fertilized by all kinds of people around you. So, I grow with you and sometimes bigger than you. Every time you pick up a scissor to prune me, some people in your life come and save me again. And like this, every time you think of doing something which I don’t like, I let indecision, vacillation and fear bloom in you. You take your steps back. You gather the courage to take that step again and I try with all my might to hold you back. In this battle, many a time I have won and only a few times that I have lost.
But should you be really bothered about me? Honestly, NO. Because I am no one to you. I am a fictional character who lives only in imagination. I have no right on you or your life decisions. I am no stakeholder of your life.
Do what you want to, because YOU want to do it... not to make SOMEBODY happy. Take the risk or not take it, move forward or step backwards, do good or bad, vice or virtue because YOU think it is right for you; not to please SOMEBODY. I won't come to share the responsibility, difficulties and hardships that come along with your decision. I shall not bear a milligram weight of your anxiety or worry, the happiness and joys associated. I understand your mum made me your friend, but now you can ensure I don't befriend your child. If your child wants to do something- run around without undies or become an opera singer, talk to him, try to understand, weigh the choice as a family and make a decision which suits the family and the child and not the one which suits me. Because I am nobody.
You may ask if I ever save or help by holding you back? I can't make , I can't break. I can't bruise, I can't heal. Life is all about falling and standing up again, but it feels much better to know that the bruises are your own and not because of the imaginary SOMEBODY. And every bruise, every hurt, every experience comes with a lesson for life. Don't forget that. THERE IS NO LOSING IN LIFE YOU SEE...YOU EITHER WIN OR YOU LEARN. Nothing more, nothing less.
N-"You are nobody. You live inside me." I stammered as my stomach churned inside. Did I hear it right? He/She is NOBODY. Then how did I let a NOBODY decide for my life? I turned and started walking away...thinking...wondering...lamenting on all the lost opportunities and the lost love. 'I am NOBODY' reverberated in my ears and then suddenly I turned to say thanks.
"Hello! You there? SOMEBODY...can you hear me?" I looked around.
There was no one...absolutely no one.
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