She is the only daughter of two powerful government officials, a successful entrepreneur and a woman with a beautiful heart. She longs for love but is also bound by familial ties, such that her life is not entirely her own. “I am not an individual...” she would often tell me. She has everything, but also nothing at all. At night, she lights another cigarette and ponders the meaning of life...night after night, year after year. Flowers will bloom again, but will youth ever come again?
He came from humble beginnings, very different from the wristwatch he is keen to show off today. Love and family, home and friends are unknown to him, a choice that he made and continues to reaffirm every day. His heart is lonely because there is no one to share his successes with when he returns home. Each weekend spent at the nightclub provides only but one night of warmth. This is not love, but it is all that he can afford. "I can't go back," he sighs and downs his drink.
She is a homely young girl from the impoverished countryside, the abandoned wife of an abusive relationship, and the mother of a child never born. She is kind to all because that is the only way for her to survive. In this lifetime, she may never witness oceans and cities, but her heart is simple and content. She will never have to bear the burden of ambition nor the responsibility of wealth.
He escaped from a princely life in his war-torn motherland, only to find his family torn apart again as war spreads across the entire region. He laughs bitterly at me, "Little sister, your country took my brother from me." He has nothing left to hate and to love because the entire world has abandoned him. He spends his days in a fictional reality--because it is only there where he can pretend to be happy.
She has always been a valedictorian in life--smart and hardworking, accomplished and popular. On the outside, she is always effortlessly smiling, laughing and bathing in perfection. But no one knows of how many late nights that she stayed up to maintain that status of victory nor of how much stress she amasses in her pursuit of perfection. In the future, she may be successful, but that is because she does not know of any other way to live, or what to live for.
He is the rebellious son of a wealthy businessman, surrounded by beautiful women and everything handed to him on a silver platter. Yet all he longs for is just a quiet life to plant tea in the distant south. Only he knows of the inferiority complex that his beloved older brother imparts upon him, and just how much time he puts into selecting each cup and teapot in his cupboard collection. One rainy night, he smiled through tears and finally said to me, “I think...in the end, there will never be a place for my own dreams in the cupboard..."
Her spirit soars in the sky, independent and free, with an ambition to rival heaven and a heart to understand earth. She has heard the stories of many people, in different countries and times, and has traversed across deserts and jungles, oceans and rivers. Yet, she does not know where is home. She does not have anyone but herself to bear the overwhelming loneliness of the path she has chosen. But she wonders, who am I?
Loneliness. Depression. Addiction. Alcoholism. Anxiety. PTSD. Insecurity. Indifference. Abuse. Abandonment. Emptiness. Doubt. Heartbreak. Hopelessness. Fatigue.
We are all lost in this world. No matter how strong we seem on the outside, deep down we are all tormented by our own problems.
No one has a perfect life. You are not alone.
After-notes: These are the honest stories of people that I once laughed with during my travels. Our paths may never cross again, but I will always remember your story.