Old article posted in Times of India on April 20th 2016. Link here-
It’s different to be a nobody. To have nothing to do in your free time. To have nothing to strive for. To have nothing but deep emptiness inside.
Sometimes it is bliss. Pure sense of being at peace with oneself. The river of emotion runs dry and you lose all sense of pain either from internal turmoil or from external taunts. Actually there is nothing but you and your inner God.
When I was somebody, everybody did not know that I was somebody. So if everybody did not tell the world that I am somebody and anybody ignored me, it hurt my ego and I would cringe and get hurt for the flimsiest of reasons.
Now that I am nobody, I am cool. Everybody buried that somebody somewhere and along with that his ego and his pressures are dead. Now everybody calls me nobody and have left me to myself. Guess what! It’s okay.
And I am different than everybody. Everybody loves somebody and ignores nobody like me. Yet in my hours of silence and solitude, I have developed a greater empathy towards everybody and especially towards a fellow nobody.
I feel less pain when somebody insults me anymore and even that goes away in a whisker. But I feel a lot for a fellow nobody.
I see a homeless nobody out on the streets, lying on the cold ground in sub zero temperatures on cardboard boxes and trying to cover his shivering body with pieces of rags and I feel pain. On social media and in their magnificent world, everybody seems to be crying foul over such people and how they affect the beauty of the city and the quality of their lives. They consider this nobody as an insect, a blot on their city, a scavenger who does not wish to contribute productively to the society. Yet I can only see the emptiness in this person’s eyes as I know that nobody does not really want to be worthless. It just happens and you go down in a spiral and reach a cul-de-sac. I see lost lives, broken dreams and yet a spirit which is surviving not just the forces of nature but the utter dislike and hate in the eyes of everybody who sees him. I cannot do much but I try and share a smile or a tear of understanding with him or sometimes we just wish each other well and move on. Perhaps love too helps!
On movie sets, when a fellow nobody like me who acts as a background extra comes and sit next to me waiting for the minutes to become hours so that he can make some money on a rare day when we get work, I share his joy. When he waits for the food breaks and eats with delight what is offered as that would be one of the finest meals he would get in days, I delight as much in his bite as mine. What if somebody, maybe a powerful Assistant Director (AD), herds us as flock and treats us as nothing more than living props? We keep our eyes down, our lips sealed and move merrily from set to holding and back and follow every instruction of the AD or the production intern to ensure that we are not given a break and let go.
There are hundreds and thousands of us in cities like Toronto, New York, Los Angles, Vancouver, perhaps Mumbai, Hong Kong who cannot make a decent living or even put food to table with what we earn as an extra and nobody. Yet we go on. In love with movies. In love with life! I love to spend time with this fellow nobody, laugh with him, eat with him as I see him not as extra but as extra special.
We see nobody everywhere.
As an immigrant, a refugee being thrown out as unwanted from one country to another or struggling to make ends meet in his adapted country which rubbishes his past and shows him far greater coldness than even the nature can muster.
As a Muslim or a Mexican in USA and many other countries of the world, being mocked and abused at will by politicians and police alike. Or as a lowly paid worker in India working for hours at stretch in Indian homes, sometimes beaten and taunted, just to be able to survive. Or as a minority anywhere in the world where the majority wants to be somebody over everybody by crushing the useless nobody.
As a woman who is told her place by religious leaders even threatened rape for trying to break the mold, as a middle aged out of work executive who is a dinosaur in the modern digital world with useless skills, as a gas station attendant, a housekeeper, a janitor, a garbage picker, writer, poet, street singer—nobody seems to exist everywhere.
And when I was somebody, I only cared about a fellow somebody while looking through the eyes, without even seeing the soul behind of anyone whom I felt was nobody.
Today I am a nobody and guess what, besides fellow nobody, I have also started liking everybody. I have started loving the small things in life, preparing red Thai curry for my wife when she comes back from work, or seeing the tears in my son’s eyes when he eats my spicy Dabeli, doing odd jobs here and there and genuinely smiling back at passengers on subway or even looking at them and recognizing their existence.
Time changes and it has the power to make a somebody out of a nobody and a nobody out of somebody. I have learnt to understand and accept that.
Thank you my roller coaster life and everybody who made a nobody out of me! It’s different and trust me, a beautiful, peaceful, calm existence to be!