We all have heard about ‘Show Must Go On’ and each one of us has innumerable stories to share. There are artists, professionals, managers, even masses who ‘carry on’ even after a moment of disaster, a life threatening crisis. It is not only the famous and the well known who have this capacity; many people around us have this gift. Mumbai public is always appreciated for its capacity to move on.
Yesterday I met two such persons. To one of them, I had an opportunity to get introduced, the other remains unknown to me.
Sunita (not her real name) is a Gond tribal woman from a small village in Nagpur district. She is an active member of a Self Help Group (SHG). Yesterday we had a meeting with her SHG, which was planned a fortnight ago. Three days prior to meeting, Sunita lost her 17 year son due to sudden illness. He was hospitalized for a week and between hopes and despair, he passed away… leaving everybody stunned and grieved.
When my colleague Manjusha received the information, she immediately went to Sunita to share the pain and to console her. Other members from the SHG joined. The SHG members requested Manjusha to postpone the meeting. But before Manjusha could say anything, Sunita told everyone, “I am going to attend the meeting. I am going to receive the guests. If you do not want the meeting, don’t attend, but I will definitely be there”. All women were taken aback, and they did not dare to postpone the meeting.
As promised, Sunita participated in the meeting very actively. When I briefly referred to the sad event at the beginning, tears flowed from her eyes. But she controlled her emotions and provided us information very enthusiastically.
While returning to Pune, few men were talking amongst themselves in train compartment. They were talking loudly, so I could hear them … even if I did not want. An old man, may be in his 70s, with a soft face (which tells you stories about the life of this man) was sharing his experience in a matter of fact tone. I cannot describe the details… but it was a touching real life story. The man lost his young son (in his 30s) in a truck accident. The man traveled to the spot, collected the remains of the body of his dead son, carried it to his native place, performed the religious rites up to 13 days and on the 14th day he joined the religious pilgrimage (varee) to Pandharpur. The man participates in this pilgrimage every year… and during the year of the tragic death of his son, he continued it.
I admire the courage of both these people. I salute them for the control they have on themselves and their sense of duty. They have the capacity to deal with pain and suffering. They are beyond the sphere of normal human ability. I am sure each one of us has some time in life carried the ‘Show’ on in spite of sad events. We all admire the ‘Show Must Go On’ spirit.
However sometimes I ask myself ‘Must Show Go On’? By carrying the show on, we hide our grief not only from others but also from ourselves. Why can’t we allow ourselves to experience the shattering moment? Why can’t we allow ourselves to experience the painful loneliness in such moments? Why can’t we say that “Yes, I do not have control over myself”. Why can’t we admit that we feel like ‘let the world go to hell’? Why can’t we live with our weakness? Why can’t we accept the vacuum within? Why we hurry to get engaged in doing something so that we don’t have to face ourselves?
Even I have carried the show on many times. Most of the times I did it because I despised the shallow sympathy people throw. I knew people around me would not understand my loss. I was aware that if I utter a word then, demon size gossip would evolve, so I had my leaps sealed.
What is more courageous? To allow the show to go on? Or to allow ourselves to be transparent and honest? Or to allow everybody to see our weakness?
May be after few months, I should talk to Sunita about this. I should try to search for the old man and understand his perspective. Both of them might have something to offer to me, which I have not learnt and understood so far.