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IDENTITY

ANN RIA

Humanity is as the seven oceanic bodies—separate but fused with no visible boundaries, made of living souls, each with a beautifully beating heart. Are we aware of each other? The answer would be a bid fat yes, but once I ask the other end of it, ‘are we aware of ourselves’, most would stay mute.
‘Persona, who the hell am I. I just wanna go, I just wanna fly’ — BTS
I too fancied to fly, and I have kicked off shear fearless from the ground; but I had been as feeble as a human can possibly be. Two years ago, my life plummeted into hell and I found myself facing severe Depression and Anxiety. It was pitch-black, deserted, cold, dry and frightening—everything worse at once, which made my orthodox Christian parents take me to a priest to exorcise me. It was nightmare for all I required was a doctor, not some ungodly religious hypocrisy. “My daughter said she wants to quit Architecture degree on her final year of graduation. She says she wants to write a book! She says she want to become an author! ” my mother wept as I lowered my head impassively before the priest. My family doubted that I had sex with a boy (or a forbidden-girl), he dumped me and now, I hated college. This misery occurred in a gloom of a gray-ish 2018 rainy day in Kerala.

Born to a South Indian family whose Ration card colour should have looked purple (pink and blue mixture) instead of blue APL, I have always felt different—the kind of different enough to be called a ‘monk’ by a classmate of mine at a very young age. I was a silent little artist who felt loads of emotion inside, at times far too complicated to fix and to express; I was profoundly perceiving, always searching and brave enough to hop up a stage to sing at the school morning assembly just to see if people reckoned me with a good voice...and I watched them watch me more and more amazed. But I was immensely shy and meek in the midst of a crowd and wished to disappear than being noticed or stared at—I felt the trait in me weird.

At home, I was totally immersed in fictitious Anime and got diverted to books when my elder sister shockingly made dad cut cable T.V connection; my devastation took refuge in my tiny school library and I went crazy with books, and I gradually and subconsciously, had fallen in love with Literature. Soon with no warning sirens, the epic Anime Naruto barged into my life and 'believe it' or not, its abrupt stop of telecast made me go savage within to create a troop story and continue them in my head every night before sleep or when bored as if episode-continuation; this self-entertaining movie-watching sort creation hobby has a term, which is again made up by me, called Browsing. I discovered another hidden but rare gift in me—the affinity to philosophy; for my 13-year-old little brain to read Paulo Coelho's The Pilgrimage in a stretch as if it was a super-hero fictitious comic, my gift was rare for a kid, and I felt more different and more special. Though, what was I more? An artist—a singer—a story lover—a philosophical teenager—a studious friend—a better human being?!! I COULDN'T place and often, I felt myself too weird that it was hard for me to communicate the trouble as my friends saw a lot in me while I saw a heap of confusion.

The wonderland era of mine soon came to an end as reality barged into my life. My dad wasn’t the ideal dad of all fathers—he was pessimistic, chauvinistic, unbelievably irresponsible, manipulative, selfish, verbal abusive, stingy, grudge keeping and judgemental. At times, my fearful and meek mother whispers to me that he exhibits signs of pervertedness to my elder sister. What was I supposed to think about my father? Nothing—I thought nothing, and let the disturbing thing creep into the pit of my subconscious fear. I began to distance myself from him. Poverty, insecurity and fright took its gluttonous grip on our family and my sister began to behave unconventionally. My mom had begged my father to take her to a doctor but nope. A year passed with her ill violence, fights and screams. I was burning inside; I wanted to run away from home; I didn’t want a sister; I hated my father. But all I did was run away from me and my dream.

An excruciating spine dislocation awaited to burn ash-holes within me on the final year of my school life. Bedridden, I missed months of my 12th grade classes—it was emotional torture more than physical, for people said I would never walk! I despised sympathy because in my eyes, I had already envisioned receiving school Farewell, passing out with my celebrating class, clutching my CBSE certificate of excellence—all those which seemed distant and stung by pain, though with difficulty, I graduated. Before college, the pain in my spine had left its damaging mark and I lost a depressed year in treatment and medication, switching from doctor to doctor, and the final one diagnosed me with the strangest condition I had ever heard, Fibromyalgia—a word I found hard to even pronounce.

With one end of tug clutched by my mother and her ideal society, and the other gripped by my dream of literature to play the game of ‘Indian educational Tug of War’, I was tossed to either side; and of predictably, my fragile dream lost and I joined Architecture—the creative professional degree that equates the number of year of study to become a doctor, the ‘king’ of profession as they call it. More than the promised and consoling artistic aspect of the degree, I craved to enable myself to design a house because l died to provide my mom and sick sister a healthy and happy living environment. But what yet awaited me was worst; within three years of college, I broke my bones twice, got a nerve blockage, got constant low Blood Pressure to be admitted in hospital twice, I went from 62 kilos to 47.5 kilos (underweight), suffered vertigo and nausea for two and a half years, was attacked with severe migraine, asthma, constant shoulder, heel and lower back pain, had attendance shortages in every semester, had my ESR blood count soar to cause me bad cold almost 12 hours straight every day and I consumed medicines for food; I suffered two shocking friendship betrayals, almost fell in love, I starved an year as I was on a medication-diet with which my hostel mess didn’t help. I lost a splendid two week tour, I lost a college Fiesta, I lost a lot of fun—but I had neither a single exam Supplementary nor a re-Jury for I cracked every exam and review I attended in my first attempt—to be within the Top 5 scorers of my batch! At once, I even became the Jury topper.

Yet with all the trophies, certificates of merit and congratulations flying to me as if iron chips to a mega magnet, I could only sustain ‘my-normal’ for about three months before I drifted slowly and unconsciously into Depression. One day, when I returned to college after somehow completing my one year Internship, I found myself standing face to face with the kind of overwhelming sorrow from within that I made an excuse amidst a class and rushed into the girl’s washroom to explode into tears. I took the next bus to my home town, swore to never return to college, and throughout the two-and-a-half hour journey, tears kept streaming down and I couldn’t stop them even before passenger’s contemptuous stares. As if a river that had been restricted to crash down from a dam, my tears crashed open all barriers and kept flowing down. Why was I crying? I had no clue. I felt so overwhelmed, and I cried and cried for months. I had lost my inner voice of consolation, hope, mercy and whatever was within me kept devouring me. Anxiety conquered me that I cut myself off from the world whenever people tried to access me out of their curiosity, and one night while one of them called, I locked my fearful-teary-mess inside my dark room, wrote ‘sorry mom’ on a piece of paper and attempted to kill myself, not once but twice. Yet fear again grabbed me from behind as I perceived the aftermaths of my death at home for I loved my family somewhere in the corner of my heart despite my emotions running rampage. I had been ultra-private but I am no more the old me for I am boldly sharing this piece of untold darkness.

People say that an instant before you perish, your whole life flashes before your eyes and the very thing occurred to me. Apart from fear, the one thing that had stopped me from taking my life was my half written novel, the one I began so hopefully at the beginning of my Internship year when I received a lot of my-time and isolation. My book is the sole reason for my existence and my book—my dream of writing is the sole reason I am alive. I have learned that ‘what I do in life’ is immensely important for my joy.
It took me more than a year of medication to become myself, and my later life I was on constant battle-mode at home. I was DAMN sure I couldn’t run backward to the sickening degree I despised, and my family kept branding as me as a spoiled who brought shame. I couldn’t precisely place what I was doing by logic but I knew to the depths of my soul that I wasn’t doing wrong to myself; I craved to stand with myself at least for once! And I dreaded to place myself inside that locked dark room, staring at my deathly ceiling fan after scribbling another ‘sorry mom’. I craved to live—and the emotion was extreme because I felt I had experienced the intensity of pain, everything at once, a human can bear in her lifetime. But the one question remained looming before my eyes—WHY am I as such?

I couldn’t, even for a bit, understand myself. Why I felt what I felt? Why I craved to write and why I loathed Architecture despite loving creation process? Why I had severe body pain? Why I was falling sick often? Why I am being hurt every single time? Why can’t I be like everyone else? All I knew was that I wasn’t crazy or possessed like my family had imagined. 2019 took me on an unforgettable revelation journey and I miraculously discovered myself:
I am what MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) define as an INFJ—Introversion-iNtuition-Feeling-Judging—one of the rarest personality type to ever walk on the planet. Some sources may say that this theory is ridiculous and lacks base—but boy, INFJ is what I am! It validates me, it has changed my life, made me accept myself and I am not weird!
I seek meaning and depth in every little thing; I am observant; I am intense but on the inside, which is quite hard to express but flows naturally as I write—the only reason why I love writing more than anything. I am creative, I seek harmony and hate conflict; I am intuitive and I am serious about everything I do. Apart from these quirks and quiddities, I am highly sensitive—a HSP—Highly Sensitive Person—from the researches of Dr Elaine Aron. The knowledge of this gave the world to me and told me WHY I felt things too much 24/7/365. I am ultra-sensitive to light, sound, smell, touch, taste and all the other senses. I dim the brightness of laptop and phone screens so much to the extent that my friends can’t even read a letter, but of course, I can and use it with 40% of brightness, which sometimes goes less to 17%. I hate travelling because the traffic noise levels in India makes me want to explode. I can neither stand the odour of incandescent sticks (why I hate funerals) nor can I bear to sit still inside a closed AC car with air freshener overloading my lungs. To me, most of food and beverages cannot be taken in considerable amounts or at all. And I hate a lot again, things people would love to get for free: honey, Jack fruit (the life of Kerala), vanilla, coffee, raisin, cherry, alcohol, vine, strawberry flavoured things (not the real fruit), caramelized foods—which includes most candies and toffees. I never feel hunger; I starve and when it happens, it causes headache, drops my concentration and mood.

My BRAIN works different from most of the population! I am born different. And I have accepted myself and am loving myself. I ditched my people-pleaser mode and perfectionist idealism—nothing and nobody is perfect. As Joyce Meyer says, ‘I didn’t feel right if I didn’t feel wrong’, I too had lived feeling guilty of something all the time. I never took care of my emotional health, my physical health and complained to God to give me an immediate breakout session. Whenever I spoke of my Fibromyalgic body pain, I was being titled a slob who wanted her parents to marry her off—the idea I was desperate to prove wrong. I hated every design using software (I felt them mechanical) and I hated myself for making me do Architecture and a lot of tree deaths. I was forcing me to love it, I tried to be fit-in the group of pompous High Class—but failed so devastatingly. I realised the degree of self-hate I had in me had been so worse that it had poisoned me, grew me to an anxious workaholic who thought happiness, rest and fun was a sin. I pushed myself to extreme to make my plans work only to build a home, social status and make the kind of money, which would secure me, my sick sister and my mother forever. I despised my father who wouldn’t even get my mom a sari; I despised him for making a mess of a home and singing my sister’s illness to the world in glee. Yes, he has double face—the first one is the non-fatherly father at home and the second is the perfect father and a service-minded Taxi driver who send his daughters to CBSE school for he believed in empowering women! My mother, in spite of being aware of his lunacy, kept quiet even while she was scared of him behaving perverted to us.

After the process of heart-breaking revelation, I grew mad at my mother and shouted at her for swallowing the truth and making us fake fineness to the world when everything was not. She should have stood up for herself and her little daughters and should have run away from a man who was this toxic. I had a lot of secrets to carry as a child and I was being told by my mother repeatedly that once I follow my dream, I will end up sick as my elder sister—and I had feared it.
I have read somewhere:
‘Everybody wants you to do good, but NOT BETTER than them.’
This line is so true; the society as India would want youth to be always lower than them—they would devour you once you attempt to break the pattern—the class system. Once you have learnt to shut your mouth, not be rebellious and speak with your deeds, most will eventually keep quiet while the rest would yet quack hatred.

I want to heal people—heal them from within and touch hearts; I long to inspire generations and leave my mark as an original—not a photocopy. I have started to do so as a Blogger, as an artist and a heartful human being. I believe in purpose and if each human born to this world follow their purpose instead of following each other, this world would be a happier and a harmonious place to live in. Without comparing us with someone else, without hating, hurting, being miserable or messy, I suggest we seek our hearts and ask ourselves who we are. Every single one is born unique, and this uniqueness, once worked upon will surely get you where to want yourself to be seen. If is not as if I have attained perfect peace; I too have my demons—a scratch in me my father has left as his DNA, my haunting past and regrets. Presently, I am still fighting Fibromyalgia, the reason for my 7-year-old muscle tenderness and immense body pain. But I shall overcome because I believe in myself and I believe in God.
If you have a different dream, I give you the dare to dream; for you know your potential and you are ready to fight for it. Perceive you. Work you. Live you.


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