An Open Letter to all the Men who have brought light and joy into my life!
I will not ask how are you today. Because I am starting to believe that it’s not a short answer question, neither it is a formal question. One should only ask how are you to dear friends. That too only at times when one has mind space and time to listen. An automated response which we have been trained to give to a How are you? thrown our way doesn’t make any sense. I feel it’s a repressing answer, where most of the people repress their true emotions and say a balanced ‘Fine’ or fake energetic and arrogant ‘Amazing’. Both of these answers rarely have any truth.
I am writing to you to express deep love and gratitude I feel towards each one of you for your presence in my life.
If we have ever met, whether in school, in college, during work or even via the web, then yes, I am writing this note to you. All of you are in my thoughts right now.
Sushant Singh Rajputs suicide today deeply disturbed me. My mother questioned my frantic behaviour when I read the news. Another friend asked Why him specifically. And I wondered Why? At a superficial level, because I liked him, his work. But when I went little deeper, it bothers me because he was successful in ways our society measures success, he was good looking and quite high on this virtual man-made pyramid of everything that one wants from life. Still a suicide? Still, there wasn’t enough support to help him come out, to help him cope up with depression he was going through? It disturbs me to think that there is no certainty to life. You don’t know how someone really is, because as a society we are so stuck in appearing happy, appearing strong, that we can’t imagine being coming across as vulnerable. And we have accepted repression of feelings as a normal thing to do. We neglect emotions that make us Humane.
Victor Frankl wrote that one who has Why to live can figure out any How. We failed to give someone who committed suicide a single Why to live? Isn’t this our loss as a society? Isn’t it something to be scared of?
Why it worries me the most is because I love some of you too deeply. I know how hard it is for you to express your feelings. It’s hard to even acknowledge feelings, to even recognise them. I have friends who I know are going through hard times and they will not share about it. Or not give themselves enough space, enough time to be vulnerable. And I find myself helpless, as there is nothing I feel I can do that will enable them to express or come out.
Still, I have to try. I have to take steps in direction where I see the slightest ray of hope.
So here is an appeal.
- To begin with, I want to tell you all that you are amazing. You bring so much light to my life. I know that many a time you have done so much heavy lifting, without even saying. I know you have gone through so much of male-bashing, sometimes done due to misguided understanding of feminism. I also know you have tried to mould yourselves after recognising your faults. And I want to acknowledge, that you have stood by me and us all women. I want to say that we are there to stand by you if you let us.
- An important fact I want to put across is that all humans have masculine and feminine energies inside them. When these two energies are understood and expressed well, we feel more complete and at peace. Recognise and acknowledge these energies within you. Most of the men are conditioned to repress their feminine aspects, and that itself causes so much anguish and mental health issues. Can you give a shot at expressing? Can you try to recognise your feminine side? It will make you more beautiful humans than you already are.
- Technology is just a tool. It’s on us how we use it. I think we should not let it divide us. I look at it with great hope. I think it can allow us to be happier than ever only if we use it rightly. Let’s use it to truly connect, to deeply listen and to widen our circle of friends who we can trust, fall back on. Reach out to your friends, juniors, cousins, people who you care for through Zoom calls, telephone or one of the 100 ways which tech has made possible.
- If you are in a place in your life where you feel happy, empowered, please pause a little, look around and reach out to your friends who you haven’t spoken to in a while. See how are they doing. Have a good deep conversation with them. Or a just a short one. It’s fairly easy to sense stress or anxiety if we listen carefully. If you sense anything that doesn’t sit well with you, try to support them or ensure at the least that they have support.
- If you are in not so great place. Acknowledge it at the least. There are different coping mechanisms. You don’t have to necessarily share about it, but at least recognise your thoughts. Accept what is going in. Reach out if possible to someone who you can trust. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. I can tell you from experience that it passes. Nothing stays. So just let yourself be. For once in a while, let your heart decide and not your mind, let your guard down, it’s alright.
- Initiate more men’s circle. Mental health is important. It’s the backbone of everything we achieve as a society. Bring in successful men ( according to what your measure of success is) to initiate, because knowing you I know you don’t listen to everybody. It’s hard to get your attention. You listen to only a few people who you consider accomplished. If you think you are someone who is accomplished according to worldly measures, please initiate more talks about your feelings, please find in yourself the power to be vulnerable. Because by sharing your vulnerability, you will do a great service to humanity (Manity). By sharing your feelings, you will inspire more men to express, it will tell them that it’s okay to be lost sometimes, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be weak.
- Make groups and empower more friends to host such circles. Use the ripple effect theory here to reach out to more and more individuals, across diverse age groups and ethnicity. Create safe, non -judgemental spaces where people can express their darkest emotions and vulnerabilities.
There are situations which we all feel helpless about. But there are few where we can do something. Where taking actions is not that hard. Where even small steps can make a difference in someone’s life.
Hosting men’s circle is one of those things. It’s simple and yet superpowerful.
Knowing some of you quite well, I know some of you will reject this note as romantic. But I would request you to pause for a second and see if anything strikes a chord with you. Because creating such spaces is very important in the times we are living. It’s important for our young boys to learn to express, it will save our society from innumerable disasters. Or maybe not, but it’s still worth a shot.
Signing off with a lot of love in my heart for each one of you and hope that this note will beckon a few of you to take action!
And here is Qudrat, an unschooled man, who sent me this soon after I finished writing this letter. It gives me hope.