Now I don’t know how the world outside of India thinks of the New York Times column this anthology is based on and named after, but personally, I’m a fan. It’s something I return to when I need some wholesome content to read. The column publishes stories of love in its many forms, and not just its romantic avatar. Most of the stories that I’ve read and liked invariably are about the restorative power of authentic human connection.
Most of the stories in Prime’s adaption have that theme: restoration.
But most of them are also predictable. In fact, they are done-to-death stories in Indian cinema.
The only story that stands out for me in this anthology is ‘Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am’, starring Anne Hathaway. The story is about a woman navigating her relationships and her career as a person with mental illness. Anne is brilliant in the role, convincing too. Especially in the final scene where she opens up about her diagnosis to a former colleague.
Living with a mental illness is, more often than not, a lonely battle. Even the most well-meaning people in your life can get it wrong and end up pushing you away. How then does romance, or any relationship for that matter, figure in the scheme of things? This story doesn’t really provide answers, but it does give hope. Hope that there are people out there who are willing to hold space for you, to let you experience your issues as you, without having to put on a mask. Hope that there are people who will make an effort to understand you. Hope that there are people out there who haven’t experienced mental health disorders and probably will not, but are still willing to put themselves in your shoes. That there are people out there who aren’t dismissive of your very real, lived experiences.
So when you finally come by the few glimmers of hope, you hold on to them. Cherish them. This story didn’t tell me where to find them. It didn’t tell me when I’ll find them. But it told me I will find them. In different forms. And that they will make life tolerable. And maybe, they can help me live rather than survive.