conversation: narratives

“You’re always such a positive person. Your aura is warmth, brilliance and resource. Almost the expense of physical pain and the weight you carry, even in this very moment. Your calm stature. At least, that’s my experience with you. It’s hard to know that all these are happening to you. Do you hate being at the spotlight, receiving sympathy? What’s the secret to you, where do you draw your strength from?

‘Those are kind things to say of someone. Humbled to be seen in such a way, by you.’

“You didn’t answer me though.”

‘I am most of those. That makes me a beautiful human, who is just experiencing some awful terrors of life. Mostly I am human, and all so wondrous and awfully beautiful at it. I strive.

“You hardly play hardball in most interviews, and mainstream platforms I have had the privilege of listening to you share your story. Why?”

‘Hardball?’

“You know, that suckerpunch hard to swallow realism. You mostly just tap into the collective psyche of inspiring people, mostly cancer survivors and anyone really. Because I know your story transcends the journey as a cancer survivor. You speak life. You’re us, many of us, in many ways we even care to admit. I’m scared myself to admit how you share some things you go through, and I wonder if it was specifically targeting me.”

‘I think it’s a human skill and art of truth-speaking. Definitely a way to also live and practice my own empathy. You can’t just go rogue with all that darkness when you choose to share your story. Though it is within the discretion of your poetic licence, abd I think with increased exploits of digital resources and platforms, one must discern a critical balance how to inform and participate in conversations that shape narratives. It’s a delicate situation. Because the cringeworthy experiences with an illness are so morally upsetting, it’s only ideal to censor and appropriate them.

Mainstream media only so far allows soundbites, the clichés which we’ve centred our push through these unusual ugliness of life.

Cancer is a lot destructive and terrifying than we know, from all the we will win and I will beat cancer and one day death too will die… The focus is always some weird social correctness, we’re obligated to dignify our most excruciating battles. These are ways with which we contextualize and aspire to make meaning out of experiences that are metaphysical and hence riddled with life-long mystery of comprehension. One is deeply responsible when they can extend their story to capture the rest of the the others, all of life’s experiences are connected. I am always troubled by the narrative projected, the positivity, the inspiration, the odd miracles… but I understand that many aren’t used to the iron-fist blow with which life deals. Forced to confront that, many crumble or resort to unhealthy coping. I believe clichés and the punchlines are digestive tags to run a course. They’re important in enabling us process and access the soul of our stories and therefore I don’t imagine them completely obsolete or even without use. Perhaps, that is why the first encounter with grief or tragedy is in learning the language to transact life with. In hindsight, I see how I myself have struggled with developing this language to live through with but also connect with others. Sometimes in a way that I, as a survivor, may find truly empowering. We’re in an age where meaning is sought, we’re increasingly sensitive to what and how we communicate. I believe the more honest approach is to be open to the absurdity of life, the more we share, the more we dissect and develop a better relationship amongst ourselves — a community of humans determined to triumph.

Cancer is synonymous to the pains the society is enduring, the rot from inside.

I think you see how many times we’d rather kill the shame with pretence, hypocrisy and any gagging known to us. It would be easy to point out, a finger elsewhere but inside, towards us. That’s how the tumors thrive.

Given the ingredients: stifled freedoms and rights, stigmatisation, inequality, injustices, lack of fair access, indecency towards life, sanitizing wrongdoings and errors, sweeping beneath the trauma… it is no truer than the reality of our society — here or elsewhere.

One of my most enduring lessons through this, has been how it has turned me inside out. Once it becomes your whole story, you cease to exist in isolation with it. You’re it. You confront the meaning of life. Or lack of it. I think that such tragedies, should present one with an opportunity to radically accept, examine and live their lives. Without which the pain becomes purposeless. I always say that it was, has been, is and will always be a life sentence for me. Something that calls me to truly be and live.’

— conversation: narratives

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