During one of our evening walks, my better half and I were discussing our childhood. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher, a pilot, a truck driver, and a lawyer. He believed that all children, regardless of their generation, have the ambition to be pilots, because we are all fascinated by flying, helicopters, jumbo planes and aerodromes.
That set the ball rolling. What pushes the public to admire other people, professions, or places? In each stage of our life, we have protagonists to look up to. It could be anyone.
Sometimes it’s one of our parents, sometimes it’s a sibling, and as you get older, it becomes a favourite writer, book characters, movie stars, movie characters, poets, or politicians. The reason we admire these heroes or heroines is to redeem ourselves and find ways to deal with the many barriers or life situations we are going through.
For the most part, we imitate our favourite characters. Real people have to deal with messy situations every day of their life. We are all average people who become champions when challenged into harrowing circumstances. When you read about how Sudha Murthy dealt with being an only female student in an all-boys engineering college, all women in mixed workplaces with very little representation of women feel empowered.
If Sudha Murthy could do that in the seventies, then a lone woman could do it in 2021. Sometimes confidence is all you need to get through a day and then the next day!
When I began writing poems earlier this year as an experiment in everyday expressions, I dusted off my love for poetry.
I went on a searching spree for the greatest women poets of our times and came across some awe-inspiring magic verses woven into the brevity of words. Lang Leav and Rupi Kaur sprang into my reading radar. Suddenly, it was fashionably maudlin for women like me, to be ‘Dickenish’!
It freed the restless voice in my head. There is validation as well as laughter when you read poems like “I’m nobody! /Who are you? /Are you nobody, too? /Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell! /They’d banish us, you know. /How dreary to be somebody! /How public, like a frog/To tell your name the livelong day/To an admiring bog!”
The reason people love the not-so-perfect characters and identify with them is that in real life we are complex and not completely good or bad. It is important for the audience to know that the characters they adore in a movie or book, are not complete, are flawed and nuanced with layered characteristics.
Some book or film characters send shivers along your spine as they portray cold murderous streaks. Nowadays Netflix and Prime are chockablock with psychological thrillers. If you watch one too many, you slowly begin to doubt every smile you meet.
I am a fan girl!
If we ask any movie buff or bibliophile, who is their book hero, you can see many who are in love with the characters they have seen on screen or read about in a book. It’s an adorable quote that goes, “Last night I met the man I want to marry. Where? In the middle of chapter six”
Who wouldn’t fall in love, if someone wrote to you, what Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you, I could walk in my garden forever.”
So if you set your imagination wild and free, who would be your fictional hero? For me, it will always be Harry Potter, the ordinary orphan boy, with an extraordinary burden of being ‘the Chosen One’, who craves to be someone normal and chooses love over power!
Feby Imthias is a writer based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @Feby_Imthias