By Megha Bajaj
I realised that I had often judged myself, my life, people around me on the basis of what I saw externally.
Why couldn’t Arun be like Dev? Dev and Tania were our neighbours and watching the two of them could make even a hard-hearted woman sigh. So you can imagine what I, a diehard romantic, went through. Dev would often come home with a single purple orchid for Tania just because she loved the colour. Often, he would make breakfast in bed for her, just because he felt like saying ‘I love you’ to her over cheese toast and a cup of tea. He would sing songs for her on the guitar because he felt music expressed his feelings better than words ever could.
Although, I tried hard not to, at times, during heated discussions, I would accuse Arun, “Why can’t you love me the way Dev loves Tania?” Arun would reply, drily, “Because I am not Dev. I can only love the way I know how to love.” I would let my body language convey my dissatisfaction. I honestly thought Tania had landed with a Mills and Boons hero; while the boy next door, the rasam and rice simpleton, had fallen to my lot.
Imagine my shock when Tania came to my house looking like a wreck. She told me some things that shocked every nerve ending in my body. Dev had often physically abused Tania. He disrespected her parents and often publicly made fun of her. She said that she even suspected that he wasn’t being loyal to her. As I soothed her, my own mind was in a state of absolute chaos. It seemed like everything I had seen about Dev so far was an illusion and this was the moment of truth.
That night I was too restless to sleep. Arun’s soft, even, breathing beside me seemed to mock me and remind me of my silly words: “Why can’t you be like Dev?” I kissed his knuckles and muttered an apology. I walked to the balcony and drew aside the curtains. The core of my being had been shaken up: I realised that I had often judged myself, my life, people around me on the basis of what I saw externally.
I realised that I had been with myself for 28 years, knew every lie, every mistake, every flaw within me and therefore thought I wasn’t good enough. Whereas, to my untrained eyes, another had seemed perfect. I had often believed I was blemished while others were spotless. I felt my parents had too many weaknesses while others’ parents were simply divine. I believed Arun didn’t love me enough just because I saw Dev loving Tania in a particular way.
That night a part of me dissolved in the moonlight. The part that so often compared my life to what I assumed another’s life was. I realised each of us had our own rivers to cross – and nothing about my life was more, or less, than another’s. In being inspired by another, I no longer needed to belittle myself. In admiring another, I no longer needed to think people close to me weren’t good enough. In loving another’s life, I no longer needed to resent my own. For, at the end of the day, we all just are – characters on the stage of life, trying to find a role that fits us. Some days, we succeed, some days, we don’t.
And that is okay.
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