I had come to live in this exciting and expensive city nine years back. Before that all my life I have been raised in various small towns of the country. So actually, I can’t really say where I belong, because I think I belong a little to everywhere I have been, met people and shared experiences. People around me find it weird when they ask me where I belong and I don’t have any specific answer. Initially few have been generous enough to demean me saying, “Ahhh !!! Okay so, I am sure you will never have in-depth understanding of any specific root since you don’t belong anywhere!” I felt bad, but that was the truth.
I actually didn’t belong anywhere…
So, this question kept me very confused. During those initial years of my city life, trying to make a good living here somehow, this “not belonging anywhere” tag started making me feel lesser than others, inferior in so many ways.
Hence, as a defense mechanism, I started trying to fit into the so called cool culture of the city. My profession demanded me to be a certain way. Well, frankly not my profession but the professionals around me wanted that. So , without even processing their opinions and thoughts I took them very seriously and tried my best to ape them.
GOSHHH I was such a loser!!!,
I felt miserable so many times. But I ignored.
People were having fun at my expense. But I didn’t mind that because all I wanted to be was a part of something! Something cool, that even I wasn’t very clear about. Deep down I wanted to permanently BELONG there, SOMEWHERE!
During that phase my parents and loved ones felt I was changing. I was becoming very self-absorbed and rude. They thought it must be the work stress. But I knew the truth. I was changing as I wanted to fit in and belong to the glitter and glamour of the city life.
I know for sure that back then I must have hurt people around me. Most importantly I hurt myself trying be someone else. The tug of war went on for some time between the old unsettled, gullible, and messy me against the trying-to-be cool, confident and controlled ME.
This continued for a few years.
And then one late evening as I was leaving from my office, one of the peons came and opened his tiffin box to offer a sweet that his wife had made on their 1st anniversary. I was in double minds whether I should accept it, but before I utter a single word he said, “Vo kya hai na madam , bapu ke illaj mein salary nikal gayee. Toh sab office walo ko khareed kar mithai nahi kila sakta , aur ghar ka bana hua yeh sab koi khate nahi hai, mazaak hi udatehain!” (“Actually madam, all my salary is spent on my father’s medical expenses; I don’t have money to buy sweets for people in office. No one wants to taste these home-made stuff, they make fun of it.”) He further added that he felt I will not make fun of him so he offered the simple homemade “Ladoo” (sweet) to me. “Vo kya hai na, baki sab office mein thode ajeeb se hai, madam, aap nahi ho, is liye…! (“Everyone in office is a little weird, but you aren’t like them.”)
I froze for a while unsure of what to say. Quietly I took the sweet; actually I took two of them, sat alone in the office and ate both. I think I will never forget that evening as after very long I felt really nice about myself.
Suddenly everything was clear again like it used to be before I came to this city. There was no tug of war! There were no two selves. Only I existed, the real me, who might not belong anywhere but that’s fine. That’s what I am, and I don’t need to fit in into any foreign space. All this time I was so desperately trying grab attention, trying to be like someone else or something else, I have been so damn miserable. I wanted people to notice me, but all I ended up doing was trying to prove to them how much I am liked all of them!
But this man, this bloody man! He could see me through. He knew I belonged somewhere else, and that place was real and genuine. He knew I was not going to judge or make fun of him. That’s why he thought of giving me his special homemade sweets.
WOW!!! That was quite something for the day.
Next morning I celebrated his anniversary at the office. I even arranged to call his wife and treated everyone. He was my first friend in a very long time, who showed me the mirror like no one ever bothered.
Form that evening I never tried to fit in anywhere. I know there are lots of things around me that I don’t know, maybe I will never know everything, ever. I am here to learn, understand, and be open to change but not camouflage according to the people or trends around. I will always respect the differences in others; but most importantly will appreciate and enjoy myself, who doesn’t necessarily belong anywhere, not even to this city.
They say, the best part about this city of dreams is that it has a place for all. It accepts and embraces all kinds of people. But actually it’s not true. This city is like every other city. It is judgmental, prejudiced, bitter, frustrating in the garb of being glamorous. What essentially it lacks is that, it teaches you to fake; it makes you embrace things that aren’t yours.
You are yet to happen in this city. So rather than trying so hard to be a part of this glamor game, it made sense that I just showered my true glitter instead of borrowing someone else’s glow.
It feels divine to shine with your own soul, swing with your own swagger. When you truly happen, that’s only when this City of Dreams embraces you with an open arm. That’s how you belong not only to the city, but EVERYWHERE!!