Everyone has a story to tell

In a rare coincidence, I had three different experiences in the last two days. It was early in the morning, and I was restless. A lot of memories and thoughts, like clouds, were crossing my mind. Some vanished in a moment, while others remained with me for a long time. As I was browsing the digital resources of my public library, I came across the latest issue of Newsweek magazine. I had not read the magazine for many years.

I wanted to scan the magazine to understand the latest editorial content. The cover page, with a photo of a young girl and the caption “ I am invisible”, struck me. There was another picture of a different girl on page 20/21 with signature lines. A surge in loneliness and alienation is fuelling by Adam Piore followed by a twelve-page researched article on the emotional issues troubling youngsters, causes of loneliness and some ideas to mitigate these challenges.

After an hour, I listened to the podcast — The Seen and the Unseen by Amit Varma. Amit was in conversation with Nikhil Taneja to discuss the epidemic of loneliness in our country. The introductory line caught my attention again- Women are not the only victims of patriarchy … men are also diminished by it. The discussion lasts about seven hours and provides many insights into the emotional challenges and societal issues. I encourage my readers to listen to the insightful podcast.

I saw the Hindi movie “Uunchaai” the following day. I went into the theatre expecting to be a documentary on Everest. The director explores sensitive, complex human issues around human relationships and tries to provide ways to manage them. I saw my uncles, brothers, cousins and sisters in these characters. Every character in the movie is genuine and has a story to tell — Amit Srivastav, Om Sharma, Javed Siddique, Shabila and Mala Trivedi. Each of them had a unique story and a diverse set of challenges. While the values of the human spirit, kindness, friendship, and compassion provide the overarching theme, the accounts and layers provide a more profound sense of their emotions and frustrations. I saw some brilliant performances by Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher, Boman Irani, Neen Gupta and Sarika. While I do not want to analyse and review the film, I want to summarise my understanding.

Confronting loneliness is not easy — for a child, a grown-up, or a senior adult. Gender distinction is not here; we are all in different boats- big and small. Someone is paddling speedily, and some are super slow. Everyone has a story, and every story is unique. The beginning and the end varies based on the circumstances. Everyone is at a different stage of the emotional journey confronting another poignant issue. There is no cookie-cutter solution to mitigate the challenges, and the scope for comparison does not exist. What works for me does not work for them. Any advice or counsel is of no use as the paths are unique. The capacity for any value judgement is limited. One has to carve out a way for themselves with the available resources. Listening, empathy, gratitude, forgiveness and kindness are the governing values. One has to pick the suitable fruit along the way based on the need and the stage of the emotional journey. “అంతే gaa” is the best tool for many occasions.

The song “ Yehi Jeevan Hai..” from the legendary Kishore Kumar from the movie “Piya ka Ghar” which plays in the backdrop of Unchaai, sums up the theme.

I like the end quote of Amitabh Bachchan in the movie: Everyone has the strength of the Himalayas within himself to scale Everest. No need to look outside.

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