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CHENNAI: For anyone who has read or been acquainted with the work of Anne Frank, the words of the German-born diarist resonates with their day-to-day decisions or on how they perceive and navigate life. Women’s rights activist and social entrepreneur Kirthi Jayakumar is one of the many followers of the late 15-year-old Holocaust victim. “Anne Frank and everything she stood for, was intimate and personal. It is about how we use her wisdom and incorporate it in our everyday life,” said Kirthi.
She pointed to how most of us are accustomed to looking at quotes and conversations and feeling it for the moment. But on the flip side, when something negative happens, we have the habit of holding on to it. The diary of Anne Frank tells the opposite. “Her wisdom is time tested. I was 12 when I first read her diary and every year since then, I have made it a point to reacquaint with Anne and realign my thinking.
A large part of the work I do today is informed by her and I wanted to share what I have learnt,” she said.
Kirthi recalled how she had an intense conversation with her mother Gita, India’s first and only lifestyle prescription coach who practices over 50 different modalities of alternative healing, on how they can bring about a positive change by shifting beliefs and navigating life, with the help of Anne’s diary and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). “It was this conversation that led us to this session,” she explained and read a quote out of her hero’s diary - a prelude to the one-of-a-kind book event.
“‘I have always been the dunce, the never-do-well of the family, I’ve always have to pay double for my deeds, first with the scolding and then again because of the way my feelings are hurt’,” she read and said, “In an entry on December 24, 1943, Anne writes, ‘feelings can’t be ignored, no matter how unjust or ungrateful they seem.’ They are very different entries. She was fighting with her mother.”
Anne didn’t have a comfortable relationship with her mother and on the other hand, she had a very powerful and rather empowering relationship with her father. “Having written what she wrote, it’s visible that Anna was venting. She didn’t respond to the feelings in her relationship with her mother, in front of her. All of it went into her diary,” she said.
“When you are called a dunce, the first thing that comes to your mind is your childhood and a tainted view of self worth,” said Gita. “When your inner child isn’t happy and isn’t released of its trauma, it is extremely difficult to go forward in life,” she said and walked us through a session of EFT, which involves both psychology and Chinese acupressure points (EFT tapping).
An intimate session of addressing childhood traumas that were left unattended left us both refreshed and bewildered. “This is just a touch of EFT - on how perceiving things differently and assuring the inner child that he/she is loved, can make a difference,” shared Gita.
On the 7th of May, Anne had written, ‘what’s done, cannot be undone, but one can prevent it happening again’. Anne had gotten to a point when it was too much to handle her parents. “She wrote a letter to them, saying she was old enough to take care of herself. Her father was shocked and hurt... he thought that all of his decisions had her best interests at heart. They later had a conversation and the father-daughter duo broke down,” she explained to the audience, who listened spellbound.
Anne saw her father as her support system, a pillar. “When he cried she thought the world around her was crumbling down. It changed the way she looked at things. Since then, she knew she couldn’t undo things that were already done but chose to prevent it by putting forth her thoughts in a nonviolent way,” said Kirthi. Gita navigated us through a second session where the audience had the chance to ‘undo’ an issue from the past. After 20 minutes of tapping into our emotions, a member of the audience said, “I feel much better.”
Kirthi nodded in agreement and stepped in to share an anecdote on how Anne created an impact on Kirthi, who was incidentally 15. “I read a piece where she says: ‘To be honest, I can’t imagine how anyone could say I’m weak” and then stay that way…’ The quote came to me at a point where I was a ‘fat child’ and body shamed. One day, I decided that I wanted to allow my anger to get the better of me, I read her diary, stopped and discovered a side of me that was more resilient and peaceful. It set me apart,” she smiled.
In her first entry, Anne wrote to her diary, ‘I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.’ “What started as a simple statement became a pivotal point. Her diary was one of the earliest publications of what happened to the Jewish community during the Holocaust, of particularly those in hiding,” said Kirthi.
The path she went on to create opened a floodgate of several survivors writing their stories. “She wanted to go on living as a writer, long after she died. Through such sessions, she goes on living in our hearts,” added Kirthi.