A Battle To Survive

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 Author: Rohan Khanna

“Our eyes only perceive as far as the horizon lets us see, but we have the ability to leap beyond the horizon, where we should be.” – Rohan Khanna

When we are children, we dawn capes and pretend to be superheroes. As we grow up, we forget those heroes due to us getting trapped in this maze called life. I am here to tell you those heroes do exist, residing in us, all this time, waiting for us to hold their hand in all walks of our lives. I am writing this at my vulnerable best, to tell you my story and how those very heroes had come at a time when I had thrown my weapons and given up the fight.


We are all fighting a battle inside us. Some days we feel the worst as if the whole world is crashing around us, isolated, vulnerable, not knowing what to do, and how to face it all. Some days we ignore it, bottling it all up inside and putting a cork on it, hoping, wishing, it would be forgotten just for that one sliver of respite. The common pattern in all of this is the fact of being alone, not being able to share with people close to us, as to what we are going through, somehow feeling ashamed or living in fear of not being understood, being an outcast. All those patterns have been part of me since my early teens. At first, they were trying to define my very existence and I let them consume me. Over the years through discipline, I have managed to not get engulfed in them and keep throwing punches at them no matter where I stand.


Adding context to where I am coming from, I am here to give you snippets of my life and hopefully be a small part of yours through my words, to assure you that it is not impossible to believe you can overcome the odds that pull you down.


Since my early 20’s I have faced one tragedy after another. Having lost my father to cancer was the first devastating blow, something I could never recover from. Being an introverted child, I let those emotions simmer inside due to my nature at the time. I kept it hidden from my family, thinking I could handle it. In those years I was trying to ignore how I felt, brushing aside the reality of losing a parent and not coming to terms with it fully. Distraction was something I had adopted to cope with the loss and video games, books and superheroes became conduits of escapism. It is during that time I had come across a fictional game character called Ezio Auditore da Firenze.


He too lost his family as a teenager and he had to grow up fast to make sense of why such a tragedy had to show its ugly face to him. As I played through his journey, I saw a boy become a man. He fell, was wounded on multiple occasions, had got his heartbroken, and witnessed the deaths of his loved ones. But all of that being part of his journey did not hold him back, did not stop him. Yes, there was anger, suffering, and self-doubt on his long tumultuous journey but, he grew and evolved, accumulating wisdom and never giving up the fight till the end of his days. He became something more, someone people looked up to around him, to ME above all else, he left an impression like no other.


His pain, suffering, and strength became my own and I saw reflections of my father in him because my dad stood up for what Ezio did. It was like he was guiding me, holding my hand and telling me it was okay, through Ezio. That I was not alone regardless of how I felt at the time. Ezio came as a silent guardian, helping me build what was broken, bit by bit. I started to gain confidence and became stronger.


While I was slowly rebuilding and trying to heal my wounds another tragedy struck. The woman I loved passed away due to unforeseen circumstances. My world had crumbled and the news took a toll on me, despite me trying to rebuild myself and gather my strength. It was hard and I was more isolated than ever. There was a sense of hopelessness and depression. I was indulging in overeating, alcohol, and not taking care of myself. I had given up. But unlike the last time when I lost my dad, something was different inside me. I still felt his presence through characters like Ezio and Batman. I somehow knew that despite my family’s support through this ordeal, I had to fight this battle myself, no matter the odds and obstacles life was throwing at me.


It demanded immense strength from me because I had to admit to myself that depression was overwhelming me, and I needed to change, mentally and physically for the better. I did not want to break all that I had worked for after my dad’s demise. Bruce Wayne/Batman (another important character like Ezio in my life) once expressed, “I have one power. I never give up.” I followed his and Ezio’s mantra and since both of them stood up and fought, regardless of their pain and suffering, I too had to adopt that mindset. I had to wake up and not spiral into a dark alley where my demons were waiting to push me back into submission, feeling sorry for myself.


I started working out and leaning towards spirituality, preparing for what may come. Yes, I have been dealing with that dark void still. YES, it becomes prominent, especially on those days when lack of work and constant rejections, the past creeping up on me, battering and draining me emotionally, making me think that I am “not good enough.” But regardless of those days, I have come far and due to self-discipline and practicing to develop myself, I do not back down. I have learned that despite the fact that we might bleed, we screaming inside to be understood, we are on the brink of giving up and letting go, all of that DOES NOT CHANGE the fact that we all have uncanny strength to push through it all. I do not know how long it takes as I am still facing the ordeal and the pain is immeasurable.


I do know though that realizing your capabilities makes you an unstoppable force, and it’s best to keep fighting till the end. It did for Batman as he converted his tragedy to strength and made a difference. It did for Ezio, as he eventually came to peace with his tragedy and transformed himself to keep moving forward.


Life can be cruel and unfair and I will not say all things will get better and paint a pretty picture because I learned that’s not the right way to approach it. But what I will say is that have faith in yourself. Hold onto anything that inspires YOU. Do what makes you happy, makes you comfortable and accepted. Grab your superheroes and they will be there by your side. I have learned that it is best to prepare and fight back then letting depression and pain demolish you.


That is the only thing you have and it’s best to exploit it. It is tempting and every breath seems like a chore in this endeavour, but when you rise out of your pit, you will be ready to face whatever may come. That makes you special and stand out from the rest. THAT is something that will truly define you.


Lastly, I will like to mention Ezio’s philosophy, “nothing is true, everything is permitted.” Nothing is true is to realize that the foundations of society are fragile and we have to be the shepherds of our own civilization. Everything is permitted is to understand that we are the architects of our actions and we must live with their consequences, whether glorious or tragic. Be the shepherd of your own survival and choose to be the architect of your well-being, thus becoming synonymous with vigor and vitality.


When you look back at the time you were your weakest, you will realize how far you have come. Be the Batman and Ezio of your own story. Grab hold of your life’s reigns and become the true version of yourself, the version you were always meant to be.

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