When India’s anticipated space mission Chandrayaan 2 suffered a setback last night, ISRO chief K Sivan couldn’t hold back his tears. Such intense were his feelings that he began to cry while walking PM Modi out of the ISRO centre in Bengaluru. Soon the video of the Indian premiere hugging a crying Sivan began to trend on social media. And honestly, one could help but feel for him. Crying is frowned upon in general, in our society. We are always told to brave our sorrow and move on from failures and setbacks. But isn’t crying natural? Then why must we not embrace something which represents traits like empathy, pain and sorrow in us?

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • When Chandrayaan 2 mission suffered a setback, ISRO chief K Sivan couldn’t hold his tears back.
  • Why do we see crying as a weakness?
  • Perhaps glorification of bravery and endurance has stigmatised crying.
  • But crying is an expression. Something that makes us human.

Perhaps crying is seen as a weakness because we tend to glorify endurance, courage and strength. Only those who can’t endure pain or sorrow, or brave fear or challenge the situation they find themselves in cry. So strong is the stigma associated with crying that it is almost a taboo for a grown to cry in front of others. And since women are stereotyped as the weaker gender, crying is sold to us a women’s trait. Boys don’t cry, girls do. Stop crying like a girl. What a pansy, crying in front of everyone. Why do women love to cry so much? You don’t cry much, are you sure you are a woman?

ISRO Chief Sivan Cries Modi Hugs
ISRO Chief Sivan Cries Modi Hugs

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Our empathy for others has taken a back seat as we remain constrained by these stigmas. We openly shame those who let their emotions flow. We call them names; weak, pansy, sentimental fool, wuss. It doesn’t matter if you are a student who may have worked hard for an exam and yet failed to clear it. Or if you just got the news that a loved one is very sick. Or if you are an ISRO scientist who put years of hard work and led your team for one of the toughest projects, and then watched it fall short of spectacular success, right under intense media glare.

Everyone cries. Crying can be an expression of sadness or pain. It can be an expression of dejection. It can also be a release. Cry and get over it.

I don’t know what got to Sivan. Our generic and half baked definitions of success and failure, the sheer pain of watching your hard work crumble, or that it happened in front of the country’s Prime Minister, or under the media watch, or the expectations of 1.3 billion fellow countrymen and women, or the feeling of having let down his team, or perhaps all these things and much more. What I do know that his tears were genuine and I could relate to them, as a human. It’s just that he was caught on camera crying, while many of us choose to hide our tears and cry in bed or in bathroom, where no one is watching, and we know that no one will judge us.

Crying is frowned upon in general, in our society. We are always told to brave our sorrow and move on from failures and setbacks. But isn’t crying natural?

It is about time that we normalised crying and stopped telling our children that only the weak cry, because that doesn’t just put them on a dangerous path for a lifetime, it is also a lie, and we know it. Everyone cries. Crying can be an expression of sadness or pain. It can be an expression of dejection. It can also be a release. Cry and get over it. How do you move on, if you don’t do that. Here’s to Sivan moving on, and leading us on many more space missions.

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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