I am who I am. Situations shaped me. Circumstances honed me. Perceptions created the ‘me’ that I am… or perhaps… could be?
I was born to a lovely couple – always smiling, spreading joy, generous to the core. Honour and respect were of prime importance. Financial status was a pale cousin. The dictates of the Bhagavad Gita, the rituals of prayers and festivities, the ‘havanas’ and the ‘satsangs’ were part of my growing up years. As was getting armed with an education, aiming to excelling at all educational and co-curricular activities.
Family was the core of existence. And by family, I include my maternal and paternal grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and the extended family. We were all brought up to love and respect each other – irrespective of any individual or independent differences. That was set in stone.
Those were the constants I grew up with.
Then there was this other constant – that of change
Every three to four years, we were transferred to a new city. This spelt a new beginning. New school. New friends. New teachers. New impressions. Old was out and the new took me in its fold. It was fun! It was like shedding off the old skin and emerging like a beautiful butterfly with each move! But, as I grew up, I often wondered what my friends thought about me. For, I was always a touch shy. I wanted to know – but was no good at deciphering! And by the time I had opened enough, it was time to move again.
Mystery – that wasn’t me
I wasn’t shrouded with mystery, but my mind was – for there was no way of knowing about how I was truly perceived. Until… I got this email from a friend in response to one of the stories I had written (“Good Grief”). I had written it years after my mother passed away in 2003 – leaving the entire family shaken, devastated, uprooted…
This friend wrote, and I quote:
“I don’t think anyone who has not gone through the pain & agony of bereavement can ever even begin to comprehend what it feels like to lose a loved one. So I don’t think I will ever be able to say I understand how you feel.
However, what I will say is that it makes me proud to have known a woman like you.
My memories of you have always been of that cheerful, fun loving, effervescent girl, who was like a breath of fresh air in the otherwise muted lot that most of us were. You always radiated warmth and friendliness that drew many of us to you, and made us admire you, love you, and cherish you for who you are.
Many of us saw you as part of a different world, where everything was pink, and beautiful, and cheerful. Somewhere, I guess I also lost sight of the fact that deep inside, you too were just another girl, a mortal like the rest of us, who could also feel pain when pinched.
It took me a long time to see you for who you really are. And maybe, just maybe, I am able to see you now for who you are: a lovely woman, who has not lost any of the warmth and affection that defined her. I see a loving wife, a grateful daughter, and a doting mother. And above all that, I see a strong and independent, yet loving and caring woman, who still makes me proud of having known her.”
All I can say to this friend is – Thank you!
I was a reflection of your perception – back then. And I am but a perception of your reflection now.
This is life! The ‘then and now’ can never be separated, perceptions can change – but the basis remains constant. And though perceptions quite often are divorced of reflecting reality; sometimes they are nothing but mere mirrors of reality.
There’s no way of finding out whether you are who you are – or who you seem to be! The reality I guess lies in the merge of the two realms.
Heavy, huh? Not quite 😉 Think it over again!