06 Jul 2022


Allegory of self-perception

Name: Zaynab Khurshid


BS Media Studies


When in A Levels, a rather dimly lit, cozy classroom was home to our Literature in English class. It was a rainy day when I read a quote I’ve ever since lived by, one that was etched towards the end of Tennessee William’s “Sweet Bird of Youth.” He wrote, “I don’t ask for your pity, but just for your understanding—not even that—no. Just for some recognition of me in you.” I remember vividly the words mesmerized me, it was indefinitely a moment that changed my way of perception and I forever.

You see, the play in itself is about a gigolo – which at the mention of sounds absurd and inappropriate, but Williams ensures that we the struggles of the gigolo and why he landed to his fate. The quote made me see a Chance Wayne (the gigolo in the play), withing myself. Chance sells his body for wealth and fame he always dreamt of, I of course have never committed such an act but wasn’t me building a profile, presenting myself in glitz and glamour for a university acceptance not an act of selling myself for what I longed for?

I turned around and took a look of the people around me, with the newfound epiphany I realized the way I perceived them all had bits of me scattered all over. In my best friend, sat next to me, I saw someone empathetic just the way I was towards her. In the boy whom I had a race of achieving better with, I saw someone fierce and competitive just the way I was towards him, threated and motivated to do better each time he wins. In the woman in front – our dearest teacher, I saw a poet, just like the one I always want to appear as in front of her. They were all parts of me from my vision of them and I suppose I, was apart of them from their vision.

Maybe this is why each time I saw someone standing at a height, I felt a pang of fear and the instinct to scream because nothing to me was scarier than heights. I laughed as I remembered the time, I got frustrated thinking my sister was taking a bite of my pizza when it was not the case at all, my reaction was outcome to the fact that I always stole her leftovers and hence I expected the same from her end.

These were small realisations but you can see the existence of this in things much broader, sometimes not limited to any boundaries. What better example can there be than the way most men reject the feminist movement, thinking threat they shall be oppressed in the name of female empowerment, just the way woman have been for centuries. Or like the Marxists claim, the Bourgeoisie are scared of an uprising because they fear being treated like the Proletariats. Both the Bourgeoisie and the Patriarchy are well aware of where they need to be held accountable hence comes in their reactions, in severe faces.

Even while reading this essay, you have a view of me based on a reflection of yourself. Perhaps you found yourself within these words and examples, or maybe you didn’t. But your judgment of me, will be on the basis of you, and mine and your reaction in regard to any action will be based on our awareness of ourselves. Deep down, we shall always know, who we are and what’s true. Perhaps we’ll mask it or perhaps we’ll own to them, success however, lies in the realisation of you in other and others in you.

( The subject essay stood third in the essay writing competition held in Bahria University arranged by Bahria Creative Platform)