[Post covid times. Clouds are getting darker and there’s a room full of thoughtful but internally wrecked teens (Anubhi, Parth, Stuti, Amrita, Ananya, Zoyah, Karan, Krisha, Saman, Charu, Jia, Yashika, Nathania and Aadi), enjoying their time out.]
“Guys guys guys. I need your help.’’
“Oh when do you not?”', asks Anu.
“Please okay, this is not the time for your condescending remarks.”
“Spell ‘condescending’ ” shouts Zoyah from the coffee counter.
“What is diversity, if I ask you?”, I add, totally ignoring Zoyah's Spell Bee enthusiast-self.
Putting the snacks into the bowl, Parth comments, “Bhai, why are you making us do your holiday homework?”
“Ahem I'm a college student and please batao na-”
“Well, for me it's about how from a young age, we are divided into types. Like there are nerds and jocks. We have been placed into so many diverse categories, unknowingly”, answers Anu while she puts out the cups on the counter.
“That's irritating…. but you know, whenever I hear the word "diversity", I remember family for me. Despite everyone living far from each other and having grown, changed and evolved into amazing souls, whenever we all come together in one room it still feels like how it was at first. Like how it feels right now”, says Stuti without moving her eyes from her sketch.
“Aww, extra sugar for Stuti, coming right up”, I say as I start to serve the coffee.
“Guys…”, Amrita says, as she slowly stirs her coffee, “Diversity to me represents the core multi-faceted Indian Cultures and traditions. Like how they all co-exist simultaneously yet are so different.”
“Exactly, diversity immediately strikes me as scenes of the rich hues and culture that vary literally from region to region in India. I think of Bombay, where the divide between the struggling poor and the filthy rich is so striking”, adds Ananya as she settles with her coffee onto the couch.
Snatching the snack bowl from Parth, Zoyah replies, “When I think of diversity, I see people sitting in a room, each having a different philosophical belief, a different approach to life.” Settling into the bean bag, she continues, “People of different skin colours, ethnicities, backgrounds, religions and communities, all coming together and having a conversation without judging each other, without the concept of right and wrong. Just everyone having their perception and nobody trying to put the other down. Just healthy conversation and challenges without anyone trying to be superior to the other.”
"It's like I don't want my life to be about myself only. There are so many different people from diverse walks of lives. Then the different cultures, traditions, perspectives, ways of life that I have yet to see and know about", says Karan as he sits beside Zoyah with his coffee. "The more I interact, the more I realise how little I know about this dynamic world”, adds Karan as bumps his cup with Zoyah’s.
"Well said, well said. Though", pointing to Zoyah I continue, “'It seems like utopia considering the current times, but it would be so nice if people come together in a room harbouring different views without an air of superiority”, I comment as I keep my cup on the central table.
As it starts raining, Krisha and Aadi walk in and open the curtains, letting the petrichor and the cold soothing breeze into the room.
“Diversity reminds me of a lot of things, but basically of how far we have come from where we had started”, quotes Krisha as she turns her chair to face the window. Smiling as she takes a slow breath in, she continues, “For example, how much our generation has evolved. People before were judged and excluded based on their caste, gender, sexual orientation and a lot of other things, though it is still practiced by a lot of people, we have evolved from it and so many people have changed the way they look at things.”
While clicking pictures of the scenery the balcony offered, Saman replies, “Exactly. Sexual orientation of a person has become so diverse, and people supporting and society progressing bit by bit is a great feat in itself. Oh, and not only that, but also the fashion sense too, like how fashion varies not between countries but from person to person”, adds Saman, grinning while she puts the phone away.
“She probably got it in the Shein sale…”, I mumble as a cushion smacks my face.
“I CAN HEAR YOU ABHINAV!'”
As the laughs subside, Charu speaks, “When I think of diversity, I just think of colours. It's amazing that there are so many people of different colours, everyone is so unique and beautiful with their own traits, and despite this, we are still the same- metaphors of humans.”
“For me too. People I know, people I don't, people I see, people I have not yet seen. How we all literally have the same foundation or core as humans but are built differently, have different languages and what not. How a simple human with the same eyes and nose as me speaks a very different language and follows really different rituals I have never even heard of.”, replies Jia as she slowly shakes her cup.
"Honestly! Moreover I think it allows you to experience freedom. To be different and unique in your way without feeling guilty for who you are. It is accepting that even though we all collectively form the human race, every individual has something special to offer ", says Yashika as she takes a handful of chips from Zoyah. Taking off a bite she adds, "You don't feel the need to fit in, rather you try to find your own little niche. It allows you to widen your concept of self."
“When I hear the word diversity, I think of a sky of inconsistency, where the rich seem to triumph over the poor and the fairer skinned ones all think they are greater”, says Nathania as she hands out refills of Charu and Zoyah's coffee. “Where questions may be raised about the lives we have chosen to live. We have come a long way but yet we have failed to learn the essence of humanity. A simple way to explain this is to picture our lives as a giant tapestry, each weave intertwined with the other and if you tug at one, all of it will unravel and fall apart. Because that's how society is. No matter our differences, without each other we will be nothing”, she states, looking out the opened window.
Zoyah raises her cup while the rest nods in agreement.
Parth rises from his couch, and speaks with a concluding tone, “Basically, it means people from different backgrounds” Bowing, he returns to the coffee counter.
After 2-3 seconds, Zoyah shouts with realization, “PARTH NO MORE CHIPS-”
The room is now cold and mixed with the smell of coffee beans and petrichor, when suddenly:
“FINALLY!” Aadi shouts as he plays the CD he inserted. “Everyone, here's my answer for what diversity is-”
Office S01 EP2,"Diversity Day" rolls in.
“UGHHHHH!” replies everyone in a perfect chorus. Questioning Aadi I ask, “How many times will you watch it dude?”
“Till death do us part.”
“Drame hai is launde ke, bas” comments Parth, munching on the biscuit.
[A room full of thoughtful but wrecked teens, laughing and smiling together. Who knows what diversity is, but it's something we had a cup of coffee over while still having different opinions. Maybe this itself is diversity.]
Author: A combined effort, penned by Abhinav Bhadri
Editor: Diya Chakraborty