13 Reasons Why, a book to television adaptation of Jay Asher’s young adult fiction, posits the transience of life and growing insensitivity among millennials. It is abundantly interspersed with prevalent concerns pertaining to suicide, sexual abuse, slut shaming, social isolation, peer pressure and so much more. Hannah Baker’s narration, of the events in her life that led her to take the plunge, is gut-wrenching to say the least. All of what she experiences brings to light exactly what’s wrong with the human mentality. Our inability to empathize, to value another person as an equal, to look beyond materialism, to take responsibility for our actions is our one-way ticket to a devastating future. Here are some reasons, drawing from the TV series, that call for a drastic change in our perceptions and the way we interact with one another:
Live and Let Live. You are the master of ONLY your life. You DO NOT get to enforce your opinions on another. This includes, but is not limited to, judging, commenting on and mocking another person for the way they choose to carry themselves. Slut shaming is a serious affront. Somebody else’s personal decisions are none of your business. We see first hand, in the TV show, how rumors can snowball into becoming the most fallacious statements about a person’s character. Alex’s list that objectifies women is in a way the kick-starter of Hannah’s depression. The aftermath is truly appalling.
Suicide Should Not be an Option. You may be in the worst possible situation, but remember, the sun brings with it a new start every day. Press the Reset button and Do Over. There is so much to live for, the least of which is yourself and who you could be in 40 years. Hannah’s decision to end her life is fueled by many incidents which make her want “everything to stop”. But even in the harshest of storms, it is upto us to cling onto the last thread for however long it takes. We owe ourselves that.
High School Hierarchies are Bullshit. No amount of wealth can make you personally inferior in comparison to another high school student. It is a place for character formation and identifying your passions. Do not let it be reduced to cringe-worthy memories of bullying and succumbing to peer standards. Stand up for yourself and for others. Justin, Bryce, Marcus, Zach and the others parade around Liberty High by terrorizing others. Evidently, school hierarchies tend to place athletes at a higher pedestal, allowing them to demean the rest of the student population. It begets the questions, What about the morals being preached in school? Why are the powerful not answerable to law? What can be done to change that?
Convenience. The pain of being someone’s convenience is starkly reflected in the episodes. Ryan publishes Hannah’s poetry in his magazine, despite being told otherwise. Bryce is of the opinion that every woman is for the taking. Sheri tries to cover up her misdeed, simply because no one of authority witnesses the accident. All of their actions, not only points to the deficiency in their upbringing, but also the skewed world view that they’ve developed, which calls for some serious attention. Keep your ground, and do not let anyone take advantage of you. Your consent is not up for bargain.
The back and forth structuring of the plot keeps us glued to Hannah’s story; as with every tape she delicately delineates the turmoil of feeling like an outsider. It has all been so realistically portrayed and the soundtrack is the final straw that leads to a whole lot of tears. Undoubtedly, some of the characters don’t intend to harm Hannah, but it is their negligence that drives a wedge between her resilience and despondence.
One other thing that infuriated me the most is the lack of parental guidance. None of the parents in the show actually make a difference. Clay’s parents keep making futile attempts to resolve matters, but it’s no good. Even the teachers, principal and the counselor are totally useless. Their greed, thoughtlessness and refusal to take action paves the way for the continued corruption of the students. Between the poetry classes, helping out at home and visiting the school counselor, we see how much effort Hannah is putting in to hang on. But… I wish people had better morals. The story of Hannah Baker, although fictitious, could be the case with many other youngsters. No one should have to feel so utterly purposeless. No one.
Final Thoughts – The ending of the show is ambiguous. While the main theme is laid to rest, quite a few questions still remain. Nevertheless, it makes for a brilliant, thought provoking TV series. One that I binge-watched simply because of its quality execution.
Rating – 5 stars on 5.
Look Around, Pay More Attention. Every drop makes an ocean and each of us can contribute towards making this world a happier place!
You were but a small boy,
Ready to be enveloped by the mighty
And the invigorating.
The Heavens convened,
Smiling down at you.
You, who glowed with wonder,
An impish smile lurking on your mien.
They imbued your life with
Experiences to last a lifetime,
Knowing full well, you’d thrive.
The stars aligned, preparing to
Release you to a world that
Could bloom with your thoughtfulness.
Flesh and blood came together,
In a hurry to carve you into all that you could be.
As you trek through the wilderness,
And dive into the ocean,
The Heavens congratulate themselves,
For a job well done.
They had hoped to see you living happily,
But you’ve left them astounded
By conquering every moment.
The Universe of You pulses with potential.
Do yourself proud.
14th February brings with it a mixture of sentiments. The singles are about to be bombarded with cutesy pictures and quotes on their social media. The couples are scrambling to concoct the “perfect” gesture for each other. And the in-betweeners are standing around, awkwardly, wondering if their efforts are misplaced. Amidst all the hullabaloo, sometimes, one can forget to catch a breath and remember that love is the biggest gift of all. It is not a competition and it is, definitely, not built on ostentation. However if you are all about the show, then go ahead, create something extravagant. But more often than not, your loved one would appreciate the thought that went into the simple yet meaningful date ideas such as these. In addition to that, some pointers that would strengthen your relationship are:
Pay attention to your partner – when they talk and even, when they’re unable to talk about what bothers them. Chances are that, you’ll learn a great deal more about them. Sometimes, you can ease out the knots in their mind by just being there. Even if their passions don’t interest you, listen and learn. They have made you a part of their life. Surely, what brings them joy, you ought to hold in high esteem?
Even love requires TRP – Without Trust, Respect and Patience, you are hurtling towards a bitter future. Be spirited enough to not have to keep tabs on your girlfriend or boyfriend. You can’t hold onto something that has to be rushed or forced. What’s more, respect their wishes. They shouldn’t have to fake a smile, because you thought you were cracking a joke.
Don’t snuff out their uniqueness – As much as generalizations make life easier, they aren’t handy in social circumstances. Don’t assume that your girlfriend would love a gown over a pair of shorts. If your brain missed the train to the 21st century, maybe you should pour over these tips to dating a modern woman. And girls, don’t be mistaken. Maybe your man wants to watch the latest RomCom, as opposed to the Action Thriller. Who knows? Well, you should.
Be their cheerleader – It takes a small affront to discourage someone and a lot of confidence to convince them. Don’t ever try to dissuade your loved one from experimenting or taking up new initiatives. A road less traveled by is already scary enough, without you adding to their fears. Let it be known, that wherever they end up, you will be right by their side.
With that being said, Valentine’s Day is an occasion of love. While all businesses are trying to wring the occasion dry with their bundle offers, don’t forget to call an old friend or visit your grandparents. They deserve to have a shower of love, too!
Walls groan and
The ceiling rat-a-tats
With fictional marbles.
Reminiscent of the old.
So as to invite stories.
A dilapidated house.
It clings to its inhabitants.
It lives long after they are gone.
It sleeps blanketed by their memories.
And wakes again, ready for more.
The Indian spirit is like a motherboard. It cannot be whole without its multiple subparts and as a separate entity, drives forward the existence of every Indian soul. This spirit is for us to wield and imbibe as we see fit. Yet, we somehow manage to demarcate the “true” Indian by turning a blind eye to those whose Indianness is diluted by years of westernization and foreign upbringing. This essay looks at the misplaced Indian – one who wholeheartedly wants to be part of the community, but cannot because he/she is far removed from any physical connection to their motherland.
The misplaced Indian is either overlooked to some extent in discourses of Indianness or ignored completely in discourses of foreign communities. He/she belongs to a no man’s land, caught in between two communities and not really a part of either. Such an Indian is not detached from his native because of his own voluntary actions but because of ancestors who have moved to a foreign land. And so matter of factly, they begin to learn their Indian mannerisms alongside the resident country’s value systems. Regardless of how much they want to belong, they are not accepted as equal Indians. Hence, they get misplaced in the process of migration and their identity becomes a matter of questioning.
Some Indian Literatures emphasize on the perspectives of such misplaced Indians. Kenyan born Indian, M.G Vassanji says in his book, A Place Within, “It would take many lifetimes; it was said to me during my first visit, to see all of India. The desperation must have shown on my face to absorb and digest all I possibly could. I recall an anxiety as I traveled the length and breadth of the country, senses raw to every new experience, that even in the distraction of a blink I might miss something profoundly significant.” Other notable writers who convey the sentiments of the misplaced Indian are V.S Naipaul, Shyam Selvadurai and G.V Desani. Such Indians face the anxiety of belonging, as discussed by Meenakshi Mukherjee in her essay Anxiety of Indianness. They are generations away from understanding the essence of Indianness and spend a lifetime trying to grasp what they can of the Indian spirit.
I love the sound of a bell.
I love the thought of a getaway.
I awake, inspired.
I feel more eccentric.
I cringe less at cliches.
I’ve learnt what is us.
Everything is better.