If you knew her between the age of 5-15, you would say she was an ecstatic young lady. Very upbeat, always excited, had a crooked tooth which she flashed confidently with a broad smile. An untouched A+ understudy at school, very sure and participated in every activity that occurred around her be it dancing, singing, theater, debate and so forth. She was every teacher's top choice.
If you knew her between the age of 15-18 you would know her as the new girl in the city, from a small town. Somewhat meek and usually quiet. Not over friendly. Beautiful but unaware of it. Her first impression would be that of a dumb girl but the more you get to know her the more you'll realize that she was smarter than half the people sitting in a room. Always had questions but kept them to herself. Wore her school skirt straight up to her knees with her socks beginning just after as opposed to the skirts of other girls that halted mid-thighs with ankle length socks flaunting their toned legs. She wouldn't look you in the eye when she spoke, but when she did, she was smart. She probably had opinions but didn't voice them out loud lest someone thought she was stupid. Needless to say something changed in the year she moved away from home.
If you knew her between the age of 18-20 you would know her as one of the hottest girls on the college campus, who was funny, had a great body and a beautiful face.
She was a part of the drama club, the tech club and the dance club. She made out with random guys at frat parties and never called them the next day. She had tons of friends. But she was not the brightest student anymore. She barely scraped through her exams.
If you knew her between the age of 20-21, you would know her as the final year girl who had a major transformation. She dropped out of all clubs, started loathing parties . She had a boyfriend who kind of wanted to get rid of her because there were hot juniors to hook up with. She had a thousand followers on Instagram but in real life, one would see her with the same five people all the time. She had gained a little body fat but her face was still beautiful. She didn't talk much in a group anymore, sometimes drifted to an alternate universe when people spoke to her.
If you knew her between the age of 21-25 you probably are one of her former colleagues . You would say she was someone who never spoke at work, who always replied “Nothing much” to whenever someone asked her "How was your weekend?". She never sat with her team for lunch. She did her work diligently, but she lacked initiative, she never had any opinions or suggestions. She was like a robot who only followed instructions and responded when asked. Nobody knew anything about her, what she was like, what her hobbies were. Some thought she was arrogant, some thought she was an introvert and had some major self-confidence issues.
It's not possible for you to know her between the age of 25-30 because it seemed like she had just gone off the grid. Her parents would say their daughter was a disgrace, her friends would say, "We tried, but she never made an effort to keep in touch." Her colleagues would say, "Thank God she left. We found a better colleague who's much friendlier than her."
If you knew her between the age of 5-15, you probably didn't know that her father was into domestic violence and that her mother was a victim. You didn't know about the flag hoisting ceremony on Independence Day where her father slapped her in front of their neighbors for refusing to sing the national anthem. You didn't know that her father had pushed her down the stairs resulting in that confident crooked smile. You didn't know that she would rather eat with a stranger than sit at the same table with her father. You didn't know about the uncountable nights when she tried to protect both her mother and younger brother from her father's wrath but could only succeed in doing the latter.
If you knew her between the age of 15-18, you didn't know how devastated she was about moving to a new city from a small town. You didn't know how she once overheard some girls making fun of her in the washroom about her oily ponytails. You didn't know about the guys in her class who mocked her for her uni brow. You didn't know about the English teacher who constantly flunked her in papers because her ideas for essays were absurd. You didn't know about the immense pressure her parents put on her to go to a good college. You didn't know about the betrayal she felt when her mother made up with her father and pretended that nothing had ever happened.
If you knew her between the age of 18-20, you probably didn't know how she had spent hours and hours in her room trying to redefine herself for college. You didn't know how badly she wanted to become the girls who made fun of her in the washroom. You didn't know the constant pressure her parents put on her to perform in a career path she hadn't chosen for herself. You didn't know the insecurities and lack of self-confidence she dealt with every day which she tried to hide by wearing sexy clothes. You didn't know how much other people's opinions had started to matter to her, so much that she stopped voicing her own. You didn't know how out of place she felt in college, a place where nobody understood her and just like her school teacher, called her absurd for any out of the box thoughts she voiced. You didn't know how hard she tried to not let her emotions get to her, how hard she tried not to cry even in the most adverse of all situations because her father once told her “There you go. Now she's going to start crying like a girl “. You didn't know that she didn't want to have any emotional attachments with a guy because she was worried they would all turn out to be like her father, a figure that most girls her age considered to be their heroes. You didn't know that her only aim was to get a job and save her mother from her father even though it seemed now that they had moved past it.
If you knew her between the age of 20-21, you probably didn't know that her boyfriend always complained about her not wanting to do “fun” things with him. You didn't know about the time her boyfriend abandoned her and went for a trip when her grandmother died, and she was inconsolable. You didn't know that she hated being in that college, she hated studying there. Nobody understood her, people called her a freak and a depressed girl who was risky to date lest she did something to herself.
If you knew her between the age of 21-25 you probably didn't know that she hated her job which she only held onto so that she could save up and take care of her mother. You didn't know how she toiled for twelve hours every day when half her friends were going on solo Europe trips or taking a break from things. You didn't know about the fear and hatred she carried in her heart for her father and a lack of understanding as to how her mother had forgiven her father and had moved on. You didn't know how lost she felt every time she called her mother and told her she wasn't feeling well only to hear a dead silence on the other side. You didn't know about how badly she wanted to just run off somewhere, break all ties, ties that were too heavy for her small fragile body, ties that she had to deal with all by herself.
You definitely didn't know her between the age of 25-30 so you probably don't know about the day she just gave it all up, her job, her apartment, her cell phone, ties with her family after she called her mother saying "You can come stay with me now, I'll take care of you", and all she got as a response was "You don't earn enough to take care of two people, dear". You don't know that she fled town without telling anyone.
You don't know that she started working extra hours at a small coffee shop called Green Theory. You don't know about the day a woman walked into her shop and was nervously fumbling her order because she couldn't speak English, frightened by the angry people waiting in line behind her. The woman was very nervous and dropped her coffee on a gentleman's expensive shoes who in turn started screaming at her making her run out of that place in tears. You don't know that she ran after the woman and spent an hour sitting with her on a park bench telling her it's okay.
You don't know that she took double jobs while interning with a therapist at a mental health center. She wanted to learn how to deal with one's emotions. She wanted to learn how to help people going through similar emotions. She knew she wasn't alone in this, but she also didn't know why talking about it was considered absurd or freaky. She didn't understand why pretending to be cheerful was always a requisite to be loved and admired in the society.
You don't know that she eventually became the favorite coffee girl for the people in the waiting room at the therapist's office. You don't know that twenty percent of her therapist's clients kept coming back for more sessions just so that they could chat with her.
You don't know how she again started wearing a lovely smile all over her face throughout the day only to go back to a multi-sharing apartment where she slept on the sofa in the hall. When she once gave away free coffee to a small street girl and her homeless mother, you don't know that her boss had cut her wages for the day, and she drank water for dinner.
You don't know about the day a woman told her she wanted to die, and she made the woman walk with her all evening, all over the city, skipping her shift at the coffee shop, not dissuading the woman's decision but going over her problems one by one and providing solutions for them.
You don't know about the late evening when her boss's husband walked in and tried to kiss her while she was finishing up. You don't know that she got fired after the husband accused her of making the first move out of anger of rejection.
You don't know the day she was fired from the coffee shop because she took the blame for breaking fifty cups because the person who was handling them had a sudden fit, something the owner considered too frivolous a reason.
You don't know how she managed to live on the streets, took public baths, studied at the public library to finally land a scholarship at a prestigious school to go on to become a therapist. You don't know how every night she stalked her mother's Facebook with a fake account not finding a single post about her gone missing but many other posts with her father at various social events.
There's a high chance you knew of her from the age of 30 because she had then become a famous therapist with a large clientele. You probably would have seen some of her writings in the middle page of some magazines even though most people flipped through them after reading a paragraph or two because it seemed boring and depressing. You would probably know that her clientele comprised a variety of people, some were filthy rich, some right off the streets, some were frat kids out of college with not a penny to spare. If you dug a bit deeper about her online you would know she was a brilliant therapist whose earnings were less than that of a recent college graduate.
Probably one of you told her at some point in the past that therapy was for the rich, not everyone could afford it and that stuck with her because of which she charged bare minimum, sometimes nothing.
But you probably didn't know that at the end of the day, after her last client walked out of the door, she would sit back on her chair, tears rolling down her face, wondering if her mother would ever call her, if her father would ever apologize, if an apology was really needed, whether her college boyfriend had become a more sympathetic person, whether her college friends had grown up to be good human beings, what people from her past thought of her.
Beneath that happy cheerful smile, that jolly spirit, that analytical thinking capability to solve all problems that everyone so admired, there still lay a small girl who couldn't solve her own problems or couldn't go to a therapist because ironically she didn't have the money for it.
She was just a small chapter in the lives of hundreds of people, a mere one hour a week for the same people who wouldn't know anything about her.
You see, not all heroes wear capes, not all heroes reveal themselves. Some heroes are invisible even though you see them sitting right in front of you every week not realizing the impact they have on your lives.