By- Sanjeevani Shukla
Let's just keep saying it until we actually start believing it.

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Sanjeevani Shukla

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My Seven Guests


I had a party last night.

I laid out a round table for my seven guests.

It had an ivory colored, croatian table cloth, hanging on the edges.

My mother gave it to me, it reminded me of the essentiality of intricacy.

On top of it I arranged my china almost symmetrically. It was gifted by an old friend

when the skies were pink and wine was supposedly a drink of sophistication and celebration.

I lit the candles in the middle of the round table, dimmed the lights and put on some nice vintage violin for the music. I sat down and waited for my guests to arrive.

My heart was in turmoil, after all I had planned this evening for long, which marked the arrival of my first guest: The Anxiety. 

It is my oldest friend. The one that stayed with me through every venture of my life, just sitting round the corner of the room, not uttering a word and feeling apprehensive. But he often disappeared during my nights of celebrations and returned soon after dawn before the next day could start. Strangely I never complained. Maybe I should have. I believe I was comfortable that way.

I greeted him, we had a lot to talk about right from my childhood : my stage fear, mornings before exams, heartbreaks, illnesses. But my second guest arrived in no time : The Uncertainty who is friends with Anxiety too. Actually they always accompany each other. Uncertainty brings along Anxiety all the time although they are quite different from 

each other. Uncertainty is more of a "living in the moment" kind of friend who wants everyone around her to appreciate the very unpredictability of life. She always tries to brighten the room but for some very peculiar reason, many don't seem to appreciate her enough.

I was truly intimidated by her as always and as a consequence I made wine my escape. As I poured down three glasses, the bell rang and I wondered who my next guest was. To my delight it was Virtue, my old philosophical friend and the most trustworthy one. He has always helped me make the right decisions however difficult they might seem in the beginning. He has always managed to bring out the best in me. I still remember one of his oldest sayings: "Righteousness and Loyalty are nothing more than choices and the fact that they are itself makes them easier to choose. You will always find reasons for betrayal, you just have to choose to not embark on that journey." 

Lost in those wrinkles on his face which seemed to give away so much, I almost forgot to let him in. Regaining my senses, I welcomed him in and served him with the finest wine to make up for all those times when I had thought his word wasn't worthy enough but had realized the opposite later.

As I was pondering over my past regrets, the bell rang again and it was time to welcome my next guest: Love. We have had our own ups and downs with our friendship. He always dressed in a very unique fashion. Half his body dressed in all white and the other half in black. He even painted his skin like that and there is one thing known about him, the way he treats you depends on which of his hands you choose to shake when you meet him. I can base that conclusion on my own experiences. When I was growing up I had his white side all along, then one day when I was 20 I shook his left black hand and my world collapsed in front of my eyes.

He left me and I struggled for years. Then I spent years rebuilding my world even stronger and he came back. But I was too afraid to let him in this time, he insisted and held me with his right white hand and thankfully we have been cordial since. I invited him in, a part of him appreciates Virtue a lot and they immediately got along. 

As I started to serve my first course for the guests who had already arrived, another one arrived: Intellect. He is my most recent friend but he has made a huge impact in a considerably lesser amount of time. It was because of him that I started appreciating things that actually matter. He made me less materialistic and more appreciative. I chose moments over things, connections over stereotypes, open-mindedness over judgements. He made me less opinionated and more adaptive and he taught me to care less of others' opinions too. In a nutshell, he made me more free because what are prejudices but mere cages to chain down your thoughts.

I welcomed him with respect and made him comfortable. I looked around, everybody was getting along well; My house was at peace.

However, I still remember the times they argued once in a while and as a hostess it became difficult for me to take a side. But then, I made peace with that and everything started settling.

As I was reminiscing all the bittersweet memories, my next guest arrived. It was Compassion, my sweetest friend, kindest of all. The way she feels so strongly about everyone around her is just overwhelming. She was closest to me in my childhood, she taught me to care about all individuals around me, all my friends. But while growing up, some of my experiences wrongly convinced me that I didn't need her that much. As a consequence, our bond faded and as it happened, strangely, I started feeling less human. I missed caring about thirsty birds and squirrels. I was turning numb day by day, nothing seemed to be exciting anymore. I started losing touch with my other friends as well. That's when I realized the importance of compassion, feelings. After all, they make you only human. Imbecile are those who say you don't need compassion, the world can do wonders with a tinge of more humanity.

She embraced me sweetly and came in delicately. I saw her getting along with the other guests at once. Everyone loved her.

I went in to make sure the dinner was ready. As I was doing my last bits, the clock struck 8. It was time for us to eat but my seventh guest hadn't come yet and for some bizarre reason i couldn't remember who it was. I scratched my head out but got no clue. I scrutinized the table and everyone there. I looked up the list I had prepared. Still got nothing. As my head was in turmoil, I looked all around ignoring all my guests.

Finally, I stood in front of a mirror and saw everyone in the reflection, including me and it felt complete. Then it hit me.

All this while, I was looking for myself and now that i had found me, I realized something. None of this would have made sense if I hadn't found myself. I would have kept looking and looking being unappreciative of all my friends. I looked at my reflection and all

the years went by flashing before me. I was the most important and yet the most underestimated piece in this puzzle. I was the pivot around which all these guests revolved and gained their strength from. 

Somebody called my name, I turned around beaming and served dinner to my guests. I made a promise to myself to keep all of them close. I also promised to never underestimate myself ever again. There are no limits to what I can do, there is no rulebook to abide by, no explanations owed. These are the only friends I need. I have them by my side. I will do just fine....





    


 


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