A lesson in staying strong from a resilient 23-year-old

When we get into a mess in Life, either self-created or situational, focus not on why you got into it, but on how you must get up, dust yourself and move on. Analyzing the why of it is important – but after you have learned to cope or have found a way out.
Shweta Basu Prasad
Picture Courtesy: Internet
Shweta Basu Prasad, 23, the National Award winning actress (for Makdee, 2002 as a child artist; she also acted in another award-winning film, Iqbal, 2005), who recently found herself embroiled in a sex scandal in Hyderabad that made shocking headlines, has spoken her side of the story to the Times of India earlier this week. When I read her version I came away admiring her grit and maturity. Referring to her experience as “an episode in my Life”, Shweta told TOI’s Meenal Baghel: “I don’t understand how I got into such a big mess. I was not doing drugs, I was not murdering someone…people are so interested (only) because they think here’s some sex, some suffering and someone with a name (sic).” Shweta’s just out of a remand home that she was sent to after she was picked up from that Hyderabad hotel for, what the police allege, “soliciting customers to have sex with her”. At the remand home, she encountered people like her – women and young girls – confused, insecure and worried about their future. Shweta decided that she was not going to brood over what had happened. She resolved that she was going to stay strong. And so, she decided to teach poor children in the remand home. She offered her services to the school inside the premises and taught children Hindi, English and music. Shweta tells Baghel, “I told myself ‘Shweta is dead’; she has disappeared into this character of a school teacher that she is portraying.” And that’s how Shweta picked herself up. Commendable, right?
On her fifth night at the remand home, Shweta wrote this poem – The Cliff:
Thunderstruck, all alone,
I stand here at the edge of the cliff.
I crawled the dense forest to get here
The tribes and wild and strays
They say ‘Jump, jump from the cliff.’
As I look down, naked, cold and trembling,
The ferocious sea I see with its mouth open
It’s ready to swallow me.
The noises are unbearable, the place so dark.
 As I decided to jump in the sea, I saw the North Star.
I remembered how it shone above my blessed home where singing hugging and laughter awaited me
I said, ‘Wait, I want to go home.’
 The voices murmured, ‘End the journey.’ ‘Jump! Jump you ugly thing.’
I smiled to them and pitied them,
They don’t know I have wings….  
Shewta’s poem reflects her phenomenal ability to rise above her situation. And to look beyond the mess that she had gotten herself into. This is the unputdownable learning here – that we are not the situation that we find ourselves in. I am bankrupt. But I am not the bankruptcy. Shweta is stuck in a sex scandal. But she is not a prostitute, she is not the sex scandal either. It is irrelevant to me whether Shweta was indeed soliciting customers or whether she just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. What’s important is that irrespective of what happened to her, she is facing Life squarely. She’s resilient in the face of it all. And that’s why I feel inspired this morning.

Let’s understand this well. Often times in Life, what we chose to do will work for us. And there are times when our choices will come back to haunt us or even blow up in our faces. The world will offer its opinion in myriad voices. You should have done better. You shouldn’t have done this. Or whatever. Ultimately – for each of us – it is an intensely personal, individual decision – are you doing to sit down and keep brooding over what happened, or are you going to move on? None of the opinion-makers in your Life is ever going to have to live your Life. So while you can value opinions, and learn from them, don’t make Life choices based on them. You are not what other people think of you. Period. When you awaken to this realization, you too will, like the young and courageous Shweta, treat the messes in your Life as “mere episodes” and learn to move on!