Remember when in childhood your mother entrusted you with the responsibility to slow down the gas stove after a certain number of whistles of the rice cooker? Doesn’t seem like a big task, does it? You realize the enormity when you’ve invited a few friends for dinner and you’re the cook; the anxious anticipation surrounding the taste of the food will kill you. It’s still easy to deal with a few friends, once in a while; it’s not when you face the proposition of bearing the wrath of the whole family for the slightest of mistakes, on a daily basis, for decades.
Remember when your father proof checked every bill he paid; restaurant, supermarket, just anywhere? You’d wonder what’s so important behind it to waste 5 minutes extra each time.
When your skills and labour pay the bills and the skills are very hard to come by, there’s every reason to be cautious. Money actually doesn’t grow on trees. As a young earning adult, you mostly only have yourself to feed; your father had many dependents on him, for decades.
That friend of yours who’d always say “No” in one go to any outing and you’d think “Kya nakhre karta hai saala”; he’s probably had a difficult past which gave him a confused anxious soul which doesn’t know what he really wants and so he says ‘No’ at one go. We all don’t at most times. Just genuinely ask him once more; it won’t do you any harm, it may do wonders to him.
That girl in your hostel who’s suddenly become silent, withdrawn and irritable; “attitude aa gaya hai isme” everyone would whisper. They didn’t realize she’s going through a bad breakup. Someone offering an unconditional listening ear to the “silent” girl will work therapeutic marvels for her.
That senior figure in the campus who’s seen alone most times, his/her presence being intimidating. He’s desperately looking for someone to talk to; “only if ego were easier to break. In the race for success” we have no idea about the loneliness that hierarchy brings with it.
We’ve all have scolded that “chotu” at the chai stall or in the canteen. Small boy as “chotu” implies; he’s actually the big boy of the house, sometimes the only earning hope many families have. Someone once rightly quoted “Yeh jo chote hote hai na, yeh asal main ghar ke bade hote hai”
The female security guard you despised for not wishing you when you entered work, the sweeper you cursed for making you wait for a wet floor to dry down. On the back of a night shift, the guard now has all the household chores to complete; the sweeper has already worked for 3 hours at her home before coming for “work”. A good chunk of them then go on to face domestic violence in the evening.
There’s no talk about any mental illness here; even normal is at times difficult for all. Honestly, at different points of time, life is tough on everyone. We’ve become programmed to think otherwise of others when they don’t act in accordance to our expectations. The world would be an easier place if we realized everyone’s struggling at some level; if we acted more out of compassion rather than despise. All it requires is some empathy and a different perspective.