‘A person who acts and lives free of regard for conventional rules and practices’- this is the dictionary meaning of the word ‘bohemian.’ The first time I heard this word was when I had got a friend home with me. This particular girl had tattoos all over her and piercings in the weirdest of weird places and she wore hot pants. Her appearance was enough to freak my grandma. As for her behavior, she never came and touched my granny’s feet nor did she award any special courtesy to her. She simply came in and said hello. That was the extent to her hospitality. When asked which college she studied in and what she studied, she replied saying that she had given up studies. ‘Really…but how is that possible? Didn’t your parents say anything?’- was the question asked by my star struck granny. ‘No my mother made an initial fuss and then she gave in. You see I paint and I sell my painting and send home money and I also support myself. So it’s not a huge issue. I never wanted to study anyway and people go to college so that they can earn money in the future right? I am earning without studying. So I guess it’s alright.’ My granny looked as if she would explode any moment. She couldn’t believe her ears and the audacity of the 19 year old infuriated her. She fired her next question- ‘what about your father? What does he have to say about this?’
‘Well I don’t want to talk about my father.’ I could see my granny readying her next question to fire to this weird creature but before she could do anything that would hurt either of them, I interrupted and took her to my room. We spend the night painting and chatting about our dreams. We had met at an art exhibition and she had observed me studying her painting and had asked me what I felt about it. I gave her my interpretation and it was apparently pretty close to what she had thought of while painting. Since then we had met a couple of other times in other art exhibitions and over the course of 3 months, our friendship had grown fueled by our common appreciation of art and music.
When she left the next morning, my granny attacked me with questions about who she was and how I had met her. I told her and she looked dubious. What she said then was what lead to this write-up. She said, “What a girl…completely bohemian. What is happening with her father? Why doesn’t she want to talk about her own father? There is something fishy there. How many lovers must she been having. You stay away from her. These kind of people are dangerous. They are never happy themselves and don’t let other people be happy also.”
This got me thinking. We don’t stop even once before criticizing people different from us. What we don’t know scares us- the unexpected scares us. What is out of the ordinary freaks us out because that’s out of our comfort zone. We don’t even try to understand it, we just judge without knowing facts.
I have never seen that girl happier than when she is painting; a sort of celestial glow comes to her face. She is one person who makes the most of everyday and lives life king size. Yet she is called depressed by a woman who has known her only 9 hours. She has a steady boyfriend for the last one year and yet she is accused of having multiple lovers. Her father left her mother when she was six years old. But there is something ‘fishy’ about not wanting to talk about him.
How quick we are to judge people and form our opinions about them. One glance and we claim to know or guess their whole life story based on what we have seen thus far. Yes she is not the conventional girl. But she has the courage to live life on her own terms- a courage which I would trade anything to acquire.
Different people are different: some wear dreadlocks, some have tattoos, some have piercings, some are homosexuals, some are bisexuals, some have been in steady relationships for a very long time, some have family problems which make them less trusting than others, some are awkward in company, some are fat, some are skinny, some are giants and some are midgets. But at the end of the day, they are all human.
We tend to define boundaries as to how a person could be, how they should behave and what is expected of them. We don’t stop to think for a second why the girl is awkward in public- maybe she was abused as a child or bullied in school. Why a person has trust issues- maybe they have seen too many relationships end badly in their life. Give a person a chance to show you what they really are before you jump to any conclusion.
Even when it comes to love- there are different kinds of the same. Some people have one night stands, some continue a relationship for months, some for years, some for a lifetime, some are in love with two people at the same time and some have three parties in a single relationship, sometimes love is destructive- you love a person so much that it destroys you and then there is the sacrificial love where one partner sacrifices everything that is dear to them for the sake of the other. These also exist. Just because you have not experienced it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Widen your horizons, open your mind to new ideas. You may not like it, it might not work for you but what is the harm in respecting it? Where is our tolerance, where is the understanding and empathizing side in us?
How will we ever drink more, much better tea if we don’t first empty the cup?