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A ‘Family’ of Strangers

August 14, 2013

Was this her home? A ‘family’ of strangers with nothing to say to each other? Dead people with dead dreams.

by Shrinkhla Sahai
Teenage Story: Family-of-strangers

“How can a teenager get bored when the zest for life has just set in?”

She is my friend…No, she was my friend. Were we ever ‘friends’? I wonder. We did things together. We’ve shared jokes and ice creams. But we never shared our lives, ourselves. We talked lots – empty talk about basketball, boys, movies, net, parties.

But is this what friendship is all about? FUN… Full stop? Then she got bored. She often gets bored – with friends, with herself, with life. Why? How can a teenager get bored when the zest for life has just set in? I often wondered.

I found out a few days later when I went to her house. They were there — her Mom and Dad. And there was silence. A tense, hopeless, scary silence. They were locked away in their own dark decaying worlds – indifferent, insensitive. They didn’t know about their daughter’s upcoming exam or her incomplete homework or how she got hurt in the field… and they didn’t care. No talk, no smiles, no warmth…not even any fights.

Was this her home? A ‘family’ of strangers with nothing to say to each other? Dead people with dead dreams. What happened to the ‘I-have-a-perfect-family’ image she showed? Where does she hide her real self?

Friendship? It’s just a distraction, amusement… fun! And when she has heard all their gossip and all they had to say about Ricky Martin and nail enamels, she drops friends. Just when we’re getting to the part where we talk about dreams, emotions, things close to the heart, she gets restless.

She’s ‘bored’. “Relationships? Faltoo ka jhanjhat!” And she walks off. I guessed the depression she carries behind her smile. That’s one thing her parents have passed on to her. I suggested she take some help. “Why the hell should I go to a shrink? I’m not mad!” She blew up. I know she’s not mad. I was only trying to help her get rid of her ‘boredom’.

I was trying to reach out to her through those cobwebs of emotional insulation that make her shrink from human touch. She dumps friends, destroying all possibilities of developing trust. She retreats into herself to deal alone with the feelings she dare not voice.

She withdraws into a private hell of turbulent emotions, not knowing how to deal with relatives and friends. What is she looking for? Security? Satisfaction?…Sanity?

(This story was first published in Meghdutam.com between 1998 – 2003)

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