Boys don’t cry…or do they?
“I don’t want to be a product of my environment, I want my environment to be a product of me” – Jack Nicholson, The Departed.
What makes up one’s personality? Is it the upbringing? Is it the environment (the society)? Or is it one’s own psyche of his/her existence? There maybe several answers to each of these questions and in turn they give rise to some more questions. The process continues till we reach a dead end where we conclude that maybe we started with a wrong question. The question which we ought to be asked right at the beginning is – Who makes the rules? And why are we obsessed with following or breaking them, accordingly? Quite often, we forget all about this aspect.
There’s a running joke in my family that I don’t possess qualities of what’s expected from my lineage. Afterall, I belong to the lineage which had Lord Rama and Vasistha (sage) at the pinnacle. However, that’s only a legend. But what I do know is that my ancestors were probably Aryans who had migrated to Northern India from Central Asia. Some of them had settled in Rajasthan and subsequently baptized themselves as Rajputs, the warrior clan known for its ferocity and pride. In 2nd Century AD, some of these Rajputs migrated to the South Eastern part of the country and settled down on the banks of Godavari. A little later, another fraction of these Rajputs migrated to Southern part of AP and settled in Rayalaseema region. With time, things had changed. The clan forgot all about their Aryan roots or even the norm that they are supposed to be rulers and warriors. My grandfather was a peasant who had groves of Mangoes and Banana plantations. Out of all the memories I have of him, the one I will always remember is a road trip in the summer of 1991. He had come to Pochampalli (near Hyderabad) to take me back to our native – a village in Kadapa district (60kms north of Tirupati). The journey came to an abrupt end in Kadapa, as soon as the news broke out that Rajiv Gandhi had been assassinated. We still had to travel another 70 kms and somehow we reached a town named Chitvel, 14 kms away from my village. There was absolutely no means of transportation and finally he decided to take me home on a bicycle. It’s one of the most beautiful journeys I have ever been on. I was 5 years old. Six years later (1997), he passed away. Although I didn’t understand what loss meant, I cried. I cried because there won’t be anyone to make those handmade bows for me. I had to accept the fact that he won’t be around to get the juicy mangoes or coconuts, some of which were mini-sized watermelons. During those days, I saw his pictures from his youth and couldn’t stop thinking how handsome he was. Despite all the things that had transpired in the family, those summer holidays in the village were always memorable.
I told you this story to validate the theories that your upbringing, environment and memories leave an indelible mark on your own persona. However, there ought to be an element of surprise which may change the course of your life. At this point, your past breaks free from your psyche. The present surprises you and the rapid pace at which the events unfold is terrifying. I still wonder how did time start flying so fast since 1997! Was it an awakening to adolescence, which acted as a catalyst in my daily life? Or was it the absence of innocence which had been your shadow so far? I wouldn’t have an answer to either of these two questions.
Why do we cry in first place? Is it an instant reaction to pain or extreme happiness? Why is there a general notion that boys shouldn’t cry? Is it a blasphemy if we reveal our vulnerable side? I find myself crying at times and sometimes it takes me by surprise. I cry in movies even when there isn’t an emotional scene. It’s a reaction to cinematic awesomeness; Dark Knight, Wall-E for instance. I fainted once when I saw my father bleeding after an accident. Nothing instigates me to an extent that I seek revenge. Once, during a small fight with my brother, I pushed him and he fell, head first, on razor sharp steps. Every time I see his forehead, the scar reminds me of that scary incident when I was 8 years old and he was 6. I don’t remember getting into a fight in the past 10 years despite being provoked at times. In short, I have forgotten what anger feels like, although I am perennially angry with myself. I cry with a hope that others would understand the pain behind my eyes but tears don’t trickle down. They smile and simply walk away. Fair enough.
Oo…great ancestors, I have let you all down. I don’t feel the blood boiling and I don’t understand the concept of pride, valour. If was handed a sword, I am more likely to describe what makes it so beautiful and majestic than to wield it with full power. I think I have become a product of my environment filled with literature, movies and people from all over the country. Yet, some day I would like my environment to be a product of me where I can live in peace sans rules.
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