Their faces were pale with tension and anxiety. They stood straight in rows and columns like a breed of robots. They didn’t even dare to look down, or even change the expression on their faces. Their eyes didn’t shine. But they were filled with a restlessness and gloom. Their white shirt and pants were as clean as ever. Their maroon tie had the same knot even today. And it hung by their necks as still as yokes. Their sights were fixed on the bald man standing in front of the microphone. Perhaps, they had even stopped the flow of thoughts in their heads. And thus they stood there as motionless as stones and trees.
“What are the three pillars?” the bald man thundered into the mike.
As if actuated by some switch, the entire crowd started at once and together, “Tradition, Honor, Excellence.”
Relax your thoughts! Because that wasn’t a scene from some sci-fi movie about clones or aliens but rather a commonplace school assembly. And do you know what happened to those pale faces who stood their crying for ‘Tradition, Excellence, Honor’ even though they hardly knew what each of these words meant? Well, 10 percent of them dropped out of the school. Another 10 percent picked up Arts and Commerce, because that is what losers study. 30 percent got themselves killed while studying Biology; because being Doctor made more money than it made sense. And the rest 50 %? Well, they were told there was something called the IIT-JEE.
The intellectuals call it herding, mob-tendency. I call it what it is – stealing souls and identities. People find it easier to follow the crowd rather than standing up for the right version of the truth or whatever it is. They would rather pick up Chetan Bhagat then sift through a few titles, just because everyone is reading it. Listen to Iron Maiden and Cradle Of Filth just because their group of friends thinks that it is the coolest band. They follow a certain religion not because they agree by the philosophy of it but because they were born into that religion. The guys even pick up the coolest slangs and all the MC, BC, because if you do not abuse you do not belong.
Now, the reason I am telling you this is not because I want you to go after your passions- that’s too cliche’d. The real reason is that a murder happened. Someone was killed. And do you know who was killed? It was ‘You’
This murder started when you lined up in that Montessori for that interview even though you couldn’t spell cat or eat yourself and cried all the time. Then came school, family, friends, ISM. Sometimes they did add something to you, but most of the times indiscriminately they chopped off a piece of yourself and fed it to ‘TRADITION, HONOUR, EXCELLENCE’ and ‘COOLNESS.’ They told you that you weren’t strong enough to make your own decisions. That your dreams- they were just a part of the Harry Potter series. You were born to earn money, and feed yourself- that was the greatest discovery of this century. And you believed them, because they were your blood relations, true friends, real teachers, and well –wishers. And when you didn’t, they booed at you; embarrassed you and shooed at you. Till you broke down and compromised and conformed to what they were selling. This is how you were made. And your real self, well it’s all red and bloody now, it cannot even fathom that since your birth you have been living a second hand life.
But as they say, all is not lost yet. You have been murdered –but you can revitalize, rehabilitate yourself. That’s the beauty of life – there’s always a second chance. But before you stand up for yourself, the first step is to discover yourself. Admitted, that’s easier said than done. But I have got a deal for you. Are you ready for it?
Well, here’s a box. Now your part of the deal is that I want you to put everything about you that isn’t you into this box; things that you associate with yourself but actually they aren’t you. Start with the small things- the things on your shelves and drawers, the frames, wallet, watches, phones- whether an i-phone or a primitive Nokia– put it all in the box. Now add the larger stuffs – your clothes, blankets, towels, your laptops. Your graphiti T-shirts, your UCB jeans, Reebok slippers, Puma shoes, your Jockey- squeeze everything into that box. Your CV, your GPA cards, your IIT-JEE rank card, your internship, all the certificates- put it all in there. Now put the big things into the box- whether it’s a brand new guitar, play station, your bicycle, car, your hostel room, your department – stuff them into the box. Now move to more intimate things- all the books you have read, film disks, serials, music albums- stuff it all into the box. Your fb account- strangle it into the box. You got a make-up? Pull it out- the talcum-powder, the fake blush, the kohl, the Chanel nail-paint -throw it all into the box.
Now set this box on fire. Yes, go on! Light it up. Let the things burn. And take a deep breath as it all burns and ask yourself how do you feel – Empty? Lost? Naked? Exposed? Or do you feel you?
Greet yourself. Get to know this ‘You’.
Know that there’s never going to be another you, ever. How unique and amazing is that! Your body and your soul, you own them solely! And hey, did you notice how beautiful you are? Listen to your heartbeat. What does it say? It says to screw ‘Perfect’. Because we aren’t supposed to be perfect. We have been created to make mistakes and learn. Tear all the labels you have put on yourself, because labels are for products and files, not for humans. And tell your heart, that from today you wouldn’t seek approval and validation of yourself from others. Those likes and comments on fb, they don’t matter! Because deep down you know, that you are too precious to let anyone judge you. Because the one who made you, conceived you as a miracle. Your smile is the reason why the sun shines. Even your tears, he collects them and hangs them as stars in the sky. The innocence in your eyes is why the grass grows, and the current of thoughts in your brain is why the world exists. Because believe it or not, the truth is you are a legend.