For several reasons I liked Vijay Simha in the much hyped Satyameva Jayate on 1st July. In the episode that touched the issue of alcoholism Vijay Simha narrated his once upon a time addiction, it bringing him down to streets and his coming out of the habit and his second coming in life.
Vijay Simha, now with Tehelka, spoke how he was one of the brightest students during school who was held as an ideal son by his friends’ parents who would tell their children to become like, “Vijay”. But once he took to alcohol and when it became a habit, it started causing his downfall. He started spending much of his time at the Press Club drinking, after and before work. Soon the addiction grew and the hours spent for work started falling down. In one such days, he remembered, his parents came to meet him. Being assured that Vijay wouldn’t shelter them for long they had reserved train tickets for that very evening. But Vijay did not shelter them even till evening. He did not even let them enter the house and asked them to wait for the train in the railway station. In no time Vijay was on streets, thanks to alcoholism. Losing his job Vijay had to vacate his room too failing to pay the rent. He remembered the days he spent in public toilets and the winters that he survived on Delhi streets. He also recollected incidents where he would ask politicians for money, encashing on their fear of a journalist like him who had most of the inside news. But then one concerned friend, finally, puts him to rehabilitation and that becomes the beginning of the second innings. Vijay Simha then came out of alcoholism, got back to his job, got married and now is well settled in life.
I have an aversion for stories that have an undertone of- power of will- or –you too can win- or –nothing is impossible- etc etc. I have an aversion for such stories because they, most of the times, do not document the difficulties involved in the resurrection of a man but just speaks of two ends and say, “from there to here!” and going high over the success create too much an aura around success and fail to speak of the struggle and the complications involved in getting up after having fallen down. It is one thing to celebrate one’s success and another to speak of the struggle involved without romanticizing either the struggle or the success.
But Vijay Simha spoke of those difficulties too. He spoke of the struggle too as he struggled to speak. He was unlike the Shiv Khera kind ‘you too can win’, it appears to me, when he said, “When you want to restart you will have to settle a lot of previous accounts, especially ethical and moral accounts. You will have to ask for forgiveness from all those who you have hurt and forgive all those have hurt you.” That was unlike all the other stories of success narrated to us because this aspect, mentioned by Vijay Simha, is not an ego booster, which is THE reason for the success of all success stories, but an ego damager. Him saying “you need to bend, put yourself to shame, forget dignity,” was such a crucial and important matter. Giving away oneself and one’s ego, introspection, correcting oneself by bending and putting oneself to shame, is rarely narrated in other success stories which concentrate mainly on the ‘power of human will’ which they make us believe can increase the height of sky by pushing it with our little finger.
Moreover this aspect which Vijay Simha spoke revealed that to come back one need to forgive and be forgiven, which means resurrection can happen only if efforts are put from two ends. This again was unlike many other stories we hear where the individual all alone is responsible for his come back and that his will alone can bring him back to life. No. Man is a social animal- basic lesson of social science. Vijay Simha spoke of the collective effort required for resurrection. He fondly remembered the man in the rehabilitation center who helped him throw the dice second time and change the course of the game of life.
Kabhi Jo Khwaab Tha Wo Paa Liya Hai,
Magar Jo Kho Gayi Wo Cheez Kya Thi.
– Javed Akhtar
A story of success is not a story of complete success. The usual success stories or the stories of great come back hide the darkness under the lamp. Success, resurrection cannot mend everything. There remains something undone. This untold story is what makes reality not a ‘feel good factor’ totally as the general success and great come back stories makes us believe.
“Did you go and apologize to everyone who you hurt?” asked Amir Khan to Vijay Simha who replied saying, “No. I couldn’t apologize to my dad who passed away a few months after he came to visit me with my mom and I did not even invite them into my room.” He continued the story to reveal that even to this day his mother doesn’t speak to him. He also recollected the letter his father had written to him after his visit to the doors of his son which read, “It’s a curse to have you as a son.”
This part of the interview did make my eyes wet. It requires great courage and a great sense of truthfulness and honesty to speak of personal failures in the process of personal success. It requires great humanness to speak of the wounds on other’s hearts that were done by us. It is this void that makes one humble even at the face of success and great come back.
The best part of Vijay Simha’s interview for me was that there was no advice from his side. He just spoke of his story with no cheers for his success and no tears for his days on the street. But the honesty was in not celebrating the success and creating an aura around him. Honesty and truthfulness was in speaking of the struggle in coming back and not the celebration of overcoming and surviving high tides. It was the honest account of the struggle and the difficulties involved in crossing the ocean between two islands- one dry and the other lush green- which made Vijay Simha’s interview wonderful. Plus it was also the honest speaking of the tragedy which could never be repaired which made it a touching account. This also removed the aura of success and come back. It’s not the aura and inspiring tone which will help others to come back but the understanding of the difficulties involved.
Yes, where there is a will there is a way. But where there is a way there are thousand and one hurdles. Who will speak of those hurdles? A man who has walked the path can only speak. Others can make a myth out of other’s success and come back and speak of it as the “power of human will,” and create a false feel good factor.