A couple of months back, I read ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ without the slightest notion of how deeply it is going to move me. Had I even an ounce of idea of the deep impact Anne’s words would have on me, I’d have prepared myself better. Nonetheless, I’m glad I read it. Some of you might have a hint of who she was.
Anne was the youngest daughter of Otto Frank, a Jewish man who fled Germany along with his family and went into hiding after the rising oppression against the Jews in the 1940s. Anne spent two years underground in what she called, ‘The Secret Annexe’ and wrote about her experience in a diary her father gave her on her 13th birthday.
There are certain entries in her diary so hauntingly beautiful, that I was nothing short of bewildered after reading them. Although all her entries are a proof of how mentally strong and capable she was, along with displaying her out of the world writing skills. But there is one particular diary entry, her very last before she was captured by the Nazis, the one that she wrote on Tuesday, August 1st, 1944.
I literally held my breath while reading it. No song, lyric or poem, has ever succeeded in describing so precisely,this disposition of mine, that I find so hard to make sense of, at times. Every single word she wrote in her last entry was directly describing who I am as a person. And because this 15 year old did a far better job than I ever could, in writing about a personality that is strikingly similar to mine, I chose to share it here. This is was she wrote:
“A bundle of contradictions” was the end of my previous letter and is the beginning of this one. Can you please tell me exactly what “a bundle of contradictions” is? What does “contradiction” mean? Like so many words, it can be interpreted in two ways: a contradiction imposed from without and one imposed from within.
The former means not accepting other people’s opinions, always knowing best, having the last word; in short, all those unpleasant traits for which I’m known. The latter, for which I’m not known, is my own secret.
As I’ve told you many times, I’m split in two. One side contains my exuberant cheerfulness, my flippancy, my joy in life and, above all, my ability to appreciate the lighter side of things. By that I mean not finding anything wrong with flirtations, a kiss, an embrace, an off-colour joke. This side of me is usually lying in wait to ambush the other one, which is much purer, deeper and finer. No one knows Anne’s better side.
I hate having to tell you this, but why shouldn’t I admit it when I know it’s true?
My lighter, more superficial side will always steal a march on the deeper side and therefore always win. You can’t imagine how often I’ve tried to push away this Anne, which is only half of what is known as Anne-to beat her down, hide her. But it doesn’t work, and I know why.
I’m afraid that people who know me as I usually am will discover I have another side, a better and finer side. I’m afraid they’ll mock me, think I’m ridiculous and sentimental and not take me seriously. I’m used to not being taken seriously, but only the “light-hearted” Anne is used to it and can put up with it; the “deeper” Anne is too weak. If I force the good Anne into the spotlight for even fifteen minutes, she shuts up like a clam the moment she’s called upon to speak, and lets Anne number one do the talking. Before I realize it, she’s disappeared.
So the nice Anne is never seen in company. She’s never made a single appearance, though she almost always takes the stage when I’m alone. I know exactly how I’d like to be, how I am… on the inside. But unfortunately I’m only like that with myself. And perhaps that’s why-no, I’m sure that’s the reason why I think of myself as happy on the inside and other people think I’m happy on the outside. I’m guided by the pure Anne within, but on the outside I’m nothing but a frolicsome little goat tugging at its tether.
The happy-go-lucky Anne laughs, gives a flippant reply, shrugs her shoulders and pretends she doesn’t give a darn. The quiet Anne reacts in just the opposite way.
If I’m quiet and serious, everyone thinks I’m putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke.
Yours, Anne M. Frank
You notice the ‘deeper, more conscious, more serious and more fragile Anne she’s talking about? And how she prefers to keep her hidden, for the people around her are not ‘used’ to her brooding, vulnerable side?
How people have always seen her as a boisterous, chirpy girl who jokes and laughs? And how whenever she even tries to bring out her ‘inner’ Anne, people find it absurd and she’s afraid they might ridicule her silent and deeper side, so she quickly hides it and ‘escapes with a joke?’
I know so many people who’re exactly the same. Too afraid to lay themselves bare. For they fear their vulnerability might be ridiculed. Bringing out your inner depth only to have it derided and not taken seriously is a form of unaddressed humiliation. It doesn’t make me angry. It hurts. Which is even worse than anger.
And all this time I’ve been trying to find the right words to explain this behavior. And Anne did it at 15.