The ‘Aisha Banerjee’ Dream

As the kaali-peeli taxis sped across the Marine Drive and the heavy Bombay rains crashed clumsily against their thick window glass, Anya felt like she had her own ‘Aisha Banerjee’ moment in a very different way. There was no Sid Mehra to confess her fictional love to, she wasn’t in a job which allowed her to explore her inner writer on the side and she definitely didn’t have a handsome boss. 
She stood cautiously on the soaking wet stone pavements which mirrored the raging clumpy dark grey skies, taking care to not slip off and bust her skull open on the tetrapods sitting leisurely along the edge of the Arabian Sea. 
She often liked to mimic her favourite character, in her regular blue jeans and pure white cotton embroidered kurta, sporting big hoop earrings hiding shyly behind her thick dark brown hair. 
She wasn’t big on the mainstream Bollywood movies which used very different colours on an expensive canvas because they fed stories to people and gave them false hope to cradle a dream which would die in this cruel world like a premature baby before it could even scream its birth. But they were her guilty pleasure because sometimes, when the sun went down and the navy blue and black ink spilled across the sky, the giant buildings started sporting tiny pinpricks of lights, and shadows started dancing and settling around, they egged her on with a quarter of Monk and some wishful thinking to paint her dreams on the canvas that was safe and untouched by the world. 
She called herself a dry-humoured, ruthless realist like her favourite TV series character, Dr. Gregory House, but even the toughest humans have a tiny heart beating gingerly under the layers of rough muscles, right? 


The Comedy Special that Redefined Comedy


Hannah Gadsby, the famous Australian comic, who has now been performing for over a decade, has recently been doing rounds of the internet and breaking it with her Netflix stand up comedy special – ‘Nanette’. She has made a mature, brave, candid and fearlessly brutal attempt at stretching the bag of comedy by fitting self deprecating humour, reality and reasoning into it, giving it the perfect shape of a lungful of laughter, tied up the drawstrings and handed us an hour of jokes that hit our funny bone and the heart at the same time. To humanly connect with the audience, she has made sprinkled her stories throughout. It’s not the special we deserve but the one we need, shaking the ground from beneath our feet.

Her special starts with the common stereotype of people thinking that women don’t find things funny and that it’s hard for them to laugh, especially lesbians. Continuing with a casual and hilarious reminiscence of her childhood in her state home, Tasmania, she says it was a bit uncomfortable for her to live there, not just because of the small population who noticed she is a homosexual because of her appearance, but also because of the intense mid-90s national debate about criminalizing homosexuality.

Using punchlines, she subtly transitions from comedy to truth, but carefully walks on the tightrope for a few minutes. Dousing her audience in tension and pulling them out them with punchlines, is how she gracefully and hilariously takes the show forward. Recalling the incident of physical harassment by the hands of a young man for being a lesbian flirting with his girlfriend, she throws the spotlight on the ignorance among people today, managing a few laughs herself. But she tries to underline how the reason behind the incident was gendered and not motivated by her sexuality. With this recall, she bullet points the reality of how lesbians aren’t even visible in the margins, simply because of their sex, ergo, people don’t see them or take them seriously. Recalling this incident, she painstakingly highlights how we’ve ingrained homophobia in children since the beginning. One is made to live life, with their chest puffed up with hatred while the other one is squashed into a closet of non existence, self loathing and worthless, being a target of that hatred.

During the special, she drags the topic of homophobia into the floodlights; the reason why it took her a long time to come out of the closet in which she had been suffocating all those years. She recalls coming out to her mother whose reaction was that of subtle disappointment. However, later in the show, she explains how a joke is a story is condensed to a setup connected to a punchline, in which the most essential part of the story is clipped into a punchline of hilarity when we should focus on it and learn from it instead. She rewinds to her mom’s disappointment and talks about how they learned from her coming out and their relationship grew.

Eventually, she steps on the pedestal of boldness to confess that she’s quitting comedy because she’d rather sit and reassess her life temporarily without work than continue to earn from the laughter of people based off her self-deprecating jokes and because she’s not proud of the fact that her favourite comedian was Bill Cosby, who was allegedly accused of sexually harassing women a while back. She ties this reasoning to the stories of her being sexually harassed and raped in the past and says that she’d rather stay away than ‘seal off her stories in jokes’. She digs up the #MeToo movement, unapologetically and effortlessly.

She goes on to state that even the comedy business is gendered. Men are considered better, paid better and allowed to spill their brains out but women are barely allowed to even speak up unless they’re stepping on their own foot and letting themselves seen as objects of pity and laughter. By reducing herself to one as well, she felt she is doing a disservice to the people of her sexuality and gender as well and humiliation is not she’ll make money.

During the show, she shines light on how we’ve created differences between women and men and gender wars by colour coding everything for babies, from day one, when instead, we should make them feel safe, and they should believe they’re on the same side.

She casually mentions a few moments from her own shows and talks about how men consider themselves as the one writing the rules and try to bring forward the patriarchal hypocrisy that what men talk about as ‘opinions’ are what women are expected to give as ‘suggestions’.

She talks about art and mental illnesses and emphasizes on Vincent Van Gogh being a misunderstood genius who was mentally ill and medicating, a part that people conveniently forget out of ignorance or because they choose to remember what they want to know, whilst talking about how artists are expected to suffer for the sake of art. She explains how sadly art is considered to be an elitist interest although it’s something that actually helps us understand the world in olden time and broadens our thinking in all directions.

She proceeds to slay Picasso, who she confesses to hate, not because she feels his art is worthless, but because people would rather remember his work than the fact that he had an affair with a 17 year old girl, Marie Therese Walter, using the excuse that they both were at their prime, when the truth was that he just found her sexually attractive and she had no experience at life. She ridicules how everyone is expected to admire him because of his work on Cubism, the artistic form that allowed multiple perspectives of the world but all of them were his and not the girl’s. She elucidates that even in the old times, even in the world of art, a man’s work based off a woman was respected, but not the woman or her work.

She grills comedians and celebrities for not doing their job properly of standing up against the Donald Trump, who openly admitted having sexually harassed women, and letting the misogyny and rape culture breed so far that today he’s the president of the United States. All for the sake of protecting the reputation and fragile male egos. She criticizes them for being no better. She jokingly mentions that particularly at this point in history, ‘being a straight white male’ was probably something nobody fancied and even if she was paid (substantially better; talking about the wage gap), she wouldn’t do it. Fiercely, she tells the audience that she was done trying to help them handle the tension and it was their tension and story to take care of. She aggressively explores the careless attitude of the general population, straight white males, towards women, and how it is coming back to them like a cycle of karma today. ‘Fuck reputation. Hindsight is a gift’; she bluntly states that we’re all slowly becoming insensitive to things for the mere reason that they don’t affect us directly and that we’re obsessed with what we see and not know.

Hannah Gadsby’s comedy special is like a series of relevant jokes that open our eyes to what comedy really is now and how we need to pay attention to homophobia, homosexuality, mental illness and sexual harassment, especially in these times. Everyone is silent, watching and listening; in the theatre and from behind the screens.


Starting the Conversation

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Disclaimer: Long post.
Read it any way.

It really all starts with a ‘Hey, how are you doing today?’ and it could probably end with ‘Hey, I got your back here, alright?’. You’re probably wondering what’s being talked about. With more than 300 million getting diagnosed with depression every single day, and around 8 million committing suicide, according to the WHO reports, it would be concerning as to where are we all are going wrong; me included. Did we never see the signs? Did we not take their suicide jokes seriously? Did we ever stop to think if their smile is a genuine emotion or just a mask? Did we perhaps think they’re “really busy” when they were actually not? Did we call them insomniacs when it’s probably something genuinely troubling them? Did we maybe look judgmental enough to tell them to not diagnose themselves and tell them “it’s inside their heads?” The list of questions is endless but it’s the root concern that’s clear.

The conversation doesn’t start the right way and it’s either getting stopped or misunderstood. Communication – if in this world of thriving technology and social media platform, we aren’t able to reach out and take the risk of actually communicating, what’s the use of ”social” media then? What are we doing with this technology?

No, we aren’t professionals to know and see the signs and sign them up (whoever they may be) to a therapist or a psychiatrist. We all are humans and are still trying to understand mental health diseases ourselves. You could probably say that this is where we don’t need to be hard on ourselves. But this is not it. There are various sides to a problem which are handled by various people and maybe, we’re not handling our side well. Maybe taking it too lightly, maybe not prioritizing it and putting it on a post-it for doing later. Maybe we’re not helping because we don’t know how to ‘handle the problem’ and we’re scared or apprehensive because it’s drilled in our conscience – if someone comes to us for help, we’re supposed to go all the way. It’s not easy for someone suffering from depression to perform a simple task like leaving the bed or even moving their limbs. It’s easier said than done. And if someone like this is trying to tell you something, just… be there. And LISTEN.

Sometimes, the person just wants a patient ear, they don’t want diagnosis and prescriptions and links to WebMD. They want to understand if the discomfort goes away with a catharsis. They want to unload because that’s what piles to and takes the form of a mental derailment. We’re all pretty much aware about depression AND the social stigma attached to it. Everyone from a 12 year old living in the dingy embraces of a slum in a far flung country to a wealthy 89 year old celebrity sitting atop a mountain of wealth and mammoth fanbase to a 40 year old working class person toiling to eat three square meals a day could be suffering from depression. The point is – depression doesn’t discriminate. But the questions we end up asking do sound like that – ‘why’, ‘how’, when’, why’, ‘where’. There isn’t a razor-sharp timeline for depression. We end up asking such specific questions when the person who isn’t even sure if what the dystopia in their head is depression. It’s a 50-50 chance and we have an urge to turn it into a conviction. It’s weird human nature. We want to be right. We suddenly forget that it’s someone’s life in our hands that we’re taking.

We forget that there are trained people to handle this situation. Obviously, once the conviction is over, judgments are inevitable.

But then again, yes. We start considering ourselves qualified enough to decide the seriousness of the problem. If it sounds ‘normal’ to us, we tell the person to just live it through. If it’s ‘light’, we tell them to chill the fuck out and not think about it. If it sounds ‘serious’, we tell them to go seek professional help. We are all fighters in our own world and we don’t get to decide whose battles are the hardest. What we forget is that all these words are degrees that are relative to everyone. Suddenly, it’s on our shoulders to save the day, which we can’t. The thing is, sometimes we can’t ‘save’ people. It’s just the way it is. But we can do our part in making sure they live.

It’s sad to see that no matter how much times progress and education we get and technology advances, we’re still stuck with the notion that the brain is an organ that just can’t suffer from diseases that are not all visible to us. We either get scared of what we don’t understand or we escape it or don’t acknowledge it. That’s where we stop the conversation. Suddenly, it is all about what seems more appropriate for us to hear and we forget that it’s the other person whose fate we’re deciding, which we’re not licensed to. It’s called giving fodder to social stigma. The sadder aspect is when the real tragedy strikes and the person suffers the death that could’ve been averted, we all appear to have erupted volcanoes of emotions displayed in one liner condolences that we go dump on their social media accounts as a mark of respect to their death from a disease we never acknowledged.

But it’s not this side alone. The sufferer before becoming one is a curious and anxious person. When left with nobody to share with, the internet becomes the friend that should be trusted with terms and conditions. Google and so called medical websites make it worse. Anxiety and curiosity is never a good combination; when coupled with internet, it’s an ugly explosion. One wrong word search could really bring around a turn of events. It’s one thing to contemplate what one’s suffering from, it’s another to self-diagnose because you know something’s wrong but you don’t know what.  ‘Fear makes you do terrible things.’ Which is going to affect you for quite a while but everyone else in the long run. This is because nobody wants to become the object of ridicule, judgment, ostracization and what not. This is the fear and apprehension that starts manifesting itself in the already festering mind as ‘What will they say?’
The thing is, it’s not wise to even consider opinions and predict reactions when your mental health is stake. Sometimes, it’s the right thing to be selfish. To seek help is another form of self love, obviously, a love for yourself that’s in your present state, as bleak as sunshine on a rainy day but it’s something. Plus, do your research on the person you’re planning to go to. But don’t get carried away. The internet is a tricky place, misleading at times. Personal experience.

Everything said and done, it’s not mandatory to stick to one professional even if you think they’re not right or somehow you both are just not going along well. First step is to ask questions and talk it out. Work out solutions but never a compromise. You’re the one with the problem. Never compromise on the solution. If things go south, find another professional. It’s all about your comfort and trust level with the person who’s trying to help you. Might as well as find the one who will listen and understand, rather than try taking the higher ground because they’re in the profession, taking the money and giving you time. It’s basically about the attitude.

Even though psychiatry and mental health is a study and practice in progress, here’s to the practicing professionals. A patient who comes for treatment is not an opportunity to mint money, they’re an opportunity to truly serve. By giving the wrong diagnosis to gain a few bucks or because you’re not able to understand what they’re saying and not putting efforts to grasp it, you’re only maligning your name and blotching the image of the fraternity. And doing it to someone who’s mentally tormented and may be on the verge of death is the worst form of selfishness displayed. Betraying someone’s trust and time is the ultimate blow to that person’s wound. Yes, this happens.

It’s really upto each one of us to stop a person from becoming a statistic. It’s about basic humanity. If we can’t do what’s least expected of us, why are we doing what we’re doing… to satisfy ourselves?

It’s all about starting the conversation that can save someone’s life.

Swiping for “love”

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Here’s the funny thing about us. The millennials.

We may be really smart but somehow, somewhere along the way we have gotten a bit lost. And perhaps, ignorant as well. Our generation has witnessed some major and ground-breaking changes, in technology and everything around us, and we’re trying our level best to contribute; helping build a better and a more comfortable world. For that, we’re leaving our comfort zone and, in a way, that is affecting our lives as well. We’re constantly on the grind. We don’t have time left. Not even for ourselves. When we are able to make time, we realize we don’t have anyone to share it with.

But we know, that after putting so much of our lives in trying to better something to perfection, we don’t have the energy or time to go out there and look for someone. So, we use the technology to look for someone, rather than trusting our guts, instincts and emotions, fully aware of the fact that the technology isn’t perfect; it’s still erroneous and only a set of algorithms and programmed code. It can not help us to find someone perfect by just swiping the screen with our fingers and get that someone to like us in a fixed period of time. Yes, I am talking about dating applications.

In addition to this, the whole concept of adding a curated list of photos and a small bio about ourselves is frivolous. We’re still trying to understand what we really want. We’re trying to find ourselves in a sea of individuals who are trying to understand where we’re going. However, we try to play around with words and make an interesting introduction and fit in 70 characters to make a ‘presentable and mainstream’ bio. Our photos don’t even portray one-fourth of our reality. We’re hidden behind filters, chiselled with editing applications to hide the unnecessary details and our faces are touched up with expressions to make ourselves look presentable enough to woo someone. To top all that, the level of confidence exuded by our highly flawed personalities is unbelievable.

We have a perfectly curated list of pick up lines, cheesy and twisted perverted phrases that we like to call ‘sexting’ and a few cliché, classic things to make the other person believe that we have a good taste in things. When things ‘get serious’, it boils down to exchanging numbers, migrating to WhatsApp or Facebook, where we come to the final showdown: asking each other for naked pictures because porn websites become a passe thing in the whole situation. Nothing gives us more pleasure than seeing naked pictures of a stranger whom we claim to know over 30-minute snippets of chats every day that we call a conversation, because for a generation of people who don’t want to stop and talk to an individual, since we’re ‘always on the roll’, this counts as socializing and knowing each other.

However, if either of the persons refuses to comply or agree, it’s called a dating application experience gone wrong with them bad mouthing each other and fuming. In extreme cases, if this stage is completed and the two people agree to meet each other, but neither one is really as they showed themselves virtually, it’s another story.

In a scenario, where our luck is miraculously “good”, things proceed to “a date”, which we also call as ‘seeing each other’, because literally all we are doing IS seeing each other’s faces and bodies. We don’t even know the basic things: does he like his pizza crust or not? does she likes extra cheese? does he have a specific favourite colour? what does she actually like to do in her free time? But for us, it doesn’t really matter because we’ve seen each other on the ‘inside’ and, that makes us feel like we’ve “seen” them. And weirdly, for us, that’s all that really matters because it somehow goes as a given that the date is either going to end with one of them being dropped to their place but not before a steamy make out session in the vehicle or perhaps in a deserted street under the streetlights because funnily for us, that’s poetic enough… or a hot fucking session in the bed because honestly, that’s what most of us just actually want – physical validation and ‘comfort’.

Oh, and the date is ‘grabbing drinks’ at either a moderately pretentious good-looking bar with some sexy music and lights because we know that it goes from drinking to loosening up and then going all over each other on the dance floor, or visiting a restaurant where the menu has names you both can barely pronounce. But if either of you is successful, then your hormones covertly go on a rampage because having that flawless English accent is like a sexual currency. And if the person is multi-lingual and knows some “sexy languages” , oh damn, nail them down right there

If the date ends ‘well’, yeah, that’s pretty much a good dating application experience for us and that’s where everything ends and we don’t see each other again. From there, we’re back to square, swiping the screen, ‘looking for love’, but ending up the same way and then we complain about not having anyone, because deep down, we know we’re “too busy” to make the efforts and too guarded to let anyone know us for who we truly are. We don’t want to get hurt, knowing that’s the only way we’ll know what relationships are actually like. We’re “too cool” for relationships but just cool enough for physically exploring each other.

We make emotionally fatal mistakes. We disguise our need for physical validation and “comfort” for something deeper. And we ruin it for ourselves, by running away from the truth.

Yeah, that’s love aaj kal.


The Change in Poetry

I find myself scrolling through numerous poetry pages on Facebook and notice that more than half of them speak of broken hearts, emotional sabotage, revenge on lost love or pining for someone who could never be got. Until one point, I find it.. alright because I’d be saying white lies if I ever denied writing poems like those. Let’s face it, we’ve all had the teenage phase but some people never got out it.

But after a point, it did get on my nerves because it made me feel like these poems were sending out a message that there is nothing more to life than fighting for love or finding it or being conflicted about it. I did get frustrated after reading those pieces and decided to unfollow and look up some poetry pages on Instagram (including the ones by amazing spoken words poets like Sarah Kay and Neil Hilborn, whose slam poetry will drive you insane), because I am low-key a big Instagram stalker and reading one poem after another is mentally and emotionally satisfying. The first week was great, the second week went fine and towards the end of the third week, it was disappointing to see the same patterns re-emerge. 

I do admit that poetry has evolved into haikus, limericks, blank verse, blackout poetry, ballad, free verse, narrative, sonnets and couplets but the content was the same generic sentimental porn.
I realized that this happened very quickly, without us even noticing it. Poetry became a silent cry of a broken heart, danging from its hinges and we approved of it. We silently read those words in our hearts and minds over days and nights, even though we weren’t interested and it didn’t really speak to us but we did it for the sake of reading. Let’s be honest, this poetry sounds repulsive sometimes. I can also hear a big bunch of people saying, “But don’t all writers and poets write about sad things?” An insane stereotype and I don’t blame them because stereotypes always have their roots somewhere. But I think the writing community is really trying to change this now. 

The Instagram handle of Neil Hilborn (the performer of the viral poem ‘OCD’) is one that you should definitely check out without a second thought, not to forget ‘Atticus Poetry‘ and Button Poetry for sure. Then there’s Airplane Poetry Movement, a spoken word organization, founded by two young and very well-known Indian slam poets – Shantanu Anand and Nandini Varma. Their work all over India will captivate you. And these are just a few people who have broadened the horizon of poetry topics which range from self-love, fears, social issues, personal improvement, introspection, seeing the world from a spiritual perspective and interpersonal issues.

The thing is, poetry has come a long way from emotional outbreak and dark revelations to lighter topics and thoughts that we normally don’t express. This helps them and the readers because with changing time, the performer/poet also churns out new poetry and this allows the listeners/readers to connect with them. Poets are also experimenting with the format and style of slam poetry. Poetry is not just about rhyme with time anymore, it’s about imagery and syllables and raw emotions. 
People also perform slam poetry in duets now and some slam poets perform with low music being played live in the background. This kind of poetry is attracting a huge wave of audience and it’s receiving many positive responses.
Some artists are also combining their digital or hand-made art with poetry to make it visually more effective. This broadens the spectrum for their reaching out to the audience. 

So yes, the face of poetry is changing beautifully at a steady pace but there’s always a scope for improvement because poetry is an art, constantly transforming literature and the human soul.
“10 Seconds at a Time…”

The title of this post, given to me by a friend, during one of the toughest phases that I’ve gone through in my life, is the only advice I’ve paid heed to.

The ones closest to me will readily agree to my anxiety and existential issues; yes, I am being open. This is not because I don’t care about talking about my mental health issues; oh I do. This is an aspect of me which I am not garrulous about, unless it’s either killing me for real, or someone genuinely wants to know what it’s like. We all keep talking about mental health and spreading awareness about it so I think it’s only fair that someone who has been through it, wants to talk about it when they’re asked.

After being diagnosed with depression and anxiety, my way of thinking morphed so steadily but subtly, I didn’t even realize. For a few days, I started seeing myself as a completely different person. Someone whose brain was literally walking on crutches. Popping that medication didn’t help either. With time, I realized, perhaps I just needed someone to talk to; what we call ‘therapy’. 

Then, one day, my friend’s voice rang out in my head like a dull bell, but distinctly, ‘Take it easy, 10 seconds at a time’. When you’ve talked on the phone with someone and heard this kind of advice, you usually laugh it off or decide to do it in the moment, for your satisfaction or for respecting the person who is taking out time to help you. Well, my friend did make me literally do a countdown, twice. I won’t deny that counting did make it easier but I knew this wouldn’t be easy to follow. 
There I had been, counting the number of days I planned to live, until I would wipe out my existence with a flash of blade or just go the ‘overdose’ way. Yes, it did seem easy to me at that time. But today, I know that it wasn’t right.

For the next three days, I did take 10 seconds at a time, twice every hour and I knew it was a start. I know what you’re thinking, “10 seconds seem like nothing. How does it even work?” Well, it does if you really want to, and for someone like me, it did wonders. My  brain is like a hamster on a wheel, something a really close friend told me once. I can not stop overthinking and I’ve been told that incessantly. But in depression, the hamster got crippled. It couldn’t run fast on the wheel, which was worse, because now the hamster was stumbling and stopping. The wheel was spinning back and forth. My brain couldn’t work properly. My ideas were like a dull spark in the synapse between two neurons. They just died midway.

That’s when I decided to go easy and take 10 seconds at a time. 

I started counting, hour after hour, trying to live the way I deserved; breathing and trying to remain visible to myself. It was hard; I won’t even try to say something unrealistic and inspirational because that’s stupid. On some days, I got tired. The counting seemed to lost effect. But I realized that I was trying to keep up the counting. I had turned it into just another task, when it was actually a coping mechanism. I didn’t need to live in a hurry, I needed to live at my pace. 

Eventually, I left for college, with a better state of mind and it was amazing…. for a long time.

Even today, there are dull and tough days when I feel weighed down like a soaking piece of cloth on a hook of a door. I don’t even feel like moving my butt, I will be very honest because let’s face it – who am I kidding by saying that life was all bright and sparkly after I moved away from home?
Change isn’t an overnight thing. If it was, I wouldn’t have written this.

And I’d say this isn’t just for someone with mental health issues. We all are trying to keep up with a life that’s just…. in our hands. It’s not really slipping away but it’s not comfortable either. And in such times, we need to just breathe… air and not fire.

I honestly try to keep complications to the minimum in my life because the maze in my head is enough for me to deal with.
But when the going gets tough, I just… pause. I count 10 seconds to get a grip on the life that I feel is slipping out of my hands and somehow, the reins that rightfully belong to me, are back in my hands.  
It isn’t easy, but it works.. and even 10 seconds take their time. 

You see what I did there? 

To be Human

So, there’s the thing that happened to me. Two months ago.

I commute to my college in Mumbai, by bus and like Mumbai trains, the buses here are known to not be kind to you, forget the whole concept of personal space.

I remember it was a weekday morning and I was a little late and haggard, and considering the fact that the bus I have been taking was getting late every day due to reasons unknown, I decided to take the next bus going through the same route, no matter how crowded it would be. Deep down, like every other person, I was hoping it would be less populated.

Well, luck didn’t favour me as usual and the bus I took was stuffy and full. I quietly slipped my way to the front and found myself standing next to a seat where a kid was sitting. He must have been at least 6 or 7 years old.

I was tired and swaying a little too much because of the way the driver was steering the bus and I didn’t know the kid was so observant. I may have discreetly uttered an expletive. I saw him turn his face away a bit and I think he giggled a little inside. Wow. I was being a good example to a 7 year old kid. What happened next, was unexpected.

He turned his face towards me and got up to offer me his seat.

I was stumped, not to forget, I froze. I turned around to see if there was someone older to me whom he wanted to give the seat to. I looked back at him and saw him looking at me, unfazed. I smiled gently and said that I didn’t need it and he should sit. He insisted a few more times till I sat, completely dumbstruck and walked ahead, getting off two stops ahead. I looked at him for a short while till he got off, in total wonder at what just happened.

Several questions started popping up in my head like bubble-wrap was being popped.

“What made him give me the seat?”
“Was I finally a senior citizen?”, I thought as I scoffed.
“Had he given up his seat like this before?”
“Was I thinking about this too much?”
“Was it something he had taught himself to do or something his parents had taught him as good manners?”
“Do kids usually do this?”

As these questions brewed in my mind, one final question rose like aroma and lingered for a while:
“Is humanity as dead as we think it is?” “Do we still know how to be human?”

I was very moved and a fuzzy sensation of hope and happiness washed over my skin like a flood of warm water. My lips were stretched into a soft smile that didn’t go away for a while.

I had a feeling I already knew the answer.