Are you still in there?

Harshavardhan Y

I was walking in the park one day, back when the world wasn’t wearing a mask, and I saw a kid crying his guts out. Apparently, the kid and his mom had a disagreement over buying a ballon. The kid was bawling. Right there, at the entrance of the park. Looking at him, crying like he din’t care where he was, took me back to when I was a kid.

It was 2003, I was a 10 year old, small town kid with a passion for cricket. How passionate you ask? I used to literally dream about cricket. The cricket world cup was underway and it was the first world cup I watched live on TV.

India and Sri Lanka came head to head in a super sixes match. It was innings break, Sri Lankan openers were about to get on the ground. My mom sent me off to get a bath since I had to attend private classes in the evening. I bolted to the bathroom, bathed and ran back before the match started. First over was good but uneventful. Javagal Srinath came to bowl the second. I remember he took 2 wickets in the over and I was ecstatic. Ecstatic. I danced in front of the TV for every wicket that fell. I just had the towel wrapped around my waist. I was getting late for the classes but my mom, seeing how exited I am, let me watch.

In the 3rd over, it was Zaheer khan’s turn to make India proud and boy did he! When the third wicket fell, I went so mad with glee that I danced my towel off. I was dancing naked in the living room while my mom laughed at how crazy I was being.

When I compared this 10 year old version of me, to what I have become, I was disappointed.

My wardrobe is full of clothes in muted colours. My phone is metallic grey. My shoe, grey and even my water bottle is an even duller shade of grey.

I feel happy when my work is appreciated at work, I don’t show it. I don’t celebrate. Anything. My behaviour is as muted as my wardrobe. I hit a six when batting on the last wicket in box cricket final of a tourney organised in our office, winning the match for us. I was so damn happy! I smiled. Nobody saw my teeth though.

Every time I had an emotion, I beat myself up emotionally to be calm, to blend in. To not stand out. Years of self abuse has turned me in to someone who is afraid to show tears neither in joy nor when sad. I do not remember the last time I heard myself laugh in public.

I was so afraid of standing out that I became someone I don’t recognise. This realisation hit me hard. That’s when I decided to change. That’s when I decided to undo the change. I’m trying to go back to being the happy soul that I once was. I wonder if he is still in there, somewhere deep inside my heart, it is not easy to go back after all these years, but I’m getting there.

Happiness, I have come to know, is a conscious effort of ignoring the fear of being noticed and fear of being judged. May be one day this will become natural to me. For now, I try. And I’m happier already.

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