With you, I can be ‘Human’
I remember the exact time when I was told to “stop crying and be a strong girl.” And I did exactly that. I stopped immediately. I hardly ever cried and even if I did, I would close the door, muffle my sobs into the fists of my palms and give into my grief until I would hear that voice in my head, “stop crying and be a strong girl.”
I would gulp down all the tears back to where they had come from, the lump still in my throat, unable to melt them into tears, open the door, ready to face the world again. I did this over and over again till crying turned into numbness and I could feel nothing. Like most of the people in my life, my feelings had abandoned me. Rather I had abandoned my ability to feel anything deeply.
I was confused, sometimes angry. The moments when I was supposed to be happy, I would laugh out loud, the sound ringing empty and untrue to my own ears. When I needed to be sad, I stayed stone faced because I had turned into a “strong woman” trained by the society.
And then I met you. I still don’t know what it was about me that you found interesting. I had nothing to offer you. And I was scared of you falling for this exact thing that I feared the most, nothing. I was an empty shell, the owner of which, my soul, had already left.
You were someone walking on the beach and you found me, just laying there, years chipped off my skin, battered by the waves carrying me with them and dumping me back to the shore, piled up among the garbage. But still you found me interesting. Maybe you have a thing for broken things. It was later on that I realized you could turn useless things into something beautiful because you yourself are beautiful from inside.
One lazy afternoon, while we lay there, besides each other, you cracked a joke. I was laughing like a hyena. And then you looked at me, you looked into me. And I saw what you saw.
When I looked into your eyes, I saw my own eyes staring back at me, cold and lost into oblivion, a deep dark ocean without any horizon in sight. And in that moment, you knew what I knew, you felt what I felt. Nothing. Empty.
You wrapped me into your arms and I lay there like a rock, unaffected on the surface but somewhere inside, in the darkness, I felt something shift. I felt your body shuddering, I didn’t understand why. But when I felt all my emotions bursting out like molten lava, I realized it was my body that was shaking like an earthquake. I felt an array of emotions, moving like slides of a movie. I felt anger, I felt hurt, I felt pain, I felt happy. And the more I felt, the more I got confused.
But most of all, I felt angry. I got mad at the tears which were falling unashamedly down my cheeks, feeling the heaviness of the force with which they hit your shirt. I could feel their anger at me too, for keeping them locked inside for so long.
I felt anger at myself. I couldn’t speak, still shivering, my hair a mess of weeds, eyes puffy, lips quivering and you, you sat there holding together a crumbling thing looking at me as if I was something magnificent that you had saved. For a moment, I thought I had messed it up.
But before I could venture back to the darkness, you looked into my eyes and said, “ I love you.” I could see your eyes pleading me to stay, to hold on, to be with you forever. And then I knew what you knew. I felt what you felt. And then we smiled. We smiled at what we had lost, which was ‘nothing.’ We smiled at what we had gained, each other, heart and soul and that was enough.
Now I’ve realized where I went wrong. Now I see the society which told me to ‘be strong’ was stone cold and I was their victim. The very definition of strength was lost to them. So they had come up with their own definition of what strength looked like, which was ‘nothing.’ I was lost in that jungle where nothing grows. You made me feel everything.
All the colours came alive. By the touch of your love, I could feel, hear, taste all at once. You said it was okay to cry when I felt sad, it was okay to feel sad when things didn’t go my way. To be happy when they did and not think much about it, to just be in those moments and take it all in, feeling deeply.
You taught me to embrace change, to be fine with not being fine. You made me whole. You taught me how to be human. And with you, that is exactly who I am, a beautiful mess of human-ness.