During those weekends when you feel there is nothing to do when actually you have much on your platter. However slow you want the weekends to be, how so ever early you rise or how much longer you run from your routine extra, you find that at the end of the day the
time flies past. It is like those rows of trees, those small brick houses outside the window of a train that seem to run behind at a constant pace, no matter how you crane you neck out they just go behind you and dissolve into an infinite oblivion. To do away with this feeling of running ahead of my weekends I try to slow down but in vain.
While taking a bus journey, I looked around and found an old man sitting at the front seat ahead of me. He had a mobile phone in his hand that was as old as he probably. The man was in his white shirt and black pant looked about 55-60 years of age. He had a tuft of white hair on his head with a few of them protruding out of his ear. After fidgeting with his phone for a few minutes he opened his messages and began reading them one by one. After reading each message he deleted it. This went on for quite a few messages. So out of curiosity I craned my neck to read what the messages were. The first one read “Happy retired life sir”, the second one said “We will miss you sir” and so on.
The old man had retired after 30-35 years at service. By deleting the messages he was trying to cut the chords that tied him to his past, to those years of service. We feel not looking back or doing away the memories will make us forget the past. We search for all the memories and try to weed them out one by one in a hope that this would save us from the nostalgia. But why do we want to break away or forget the past which was so good. Do we not like to remember good stuff, do we not want to be surrounded by the happy feeling of good times that make us look at the future in a hope of reliving the past. Then why was he deleting the memories.
We humans are the most dissatisfied out of all the creations of God. In childhood, we crave for good marks. Once we have marks we crave for the top position in class, once teens, we crave for a good college and then a good job. And then after all those years at service, in the twilight of our lives we crave for reliving the past. This is why the man was cutting all the chords from the past. He wanted to forget about something that he will no longer have “the daily 9-5 job.” Getting up in the morning and leaving for the job in a haste only to return late in the evening. Cursing the Mondays and looking forward to the weekends. Cursing our daily routine and waiting for the end of each month for our salary. No matter how sad or depressing this predictable life looks on paper all of us live it and most of us crave for it at the end of our careers.
Those 25 years at the job we are all runners who are running at a great speed. We run to see what is at the end of the race and once we reach the final post we long for the race. We long for someone that boss to manage us. We long for the feeling of completing our monthly targets or for that yearly bonus that gives us a free pass to “dine out”. Suddenly we find ourselves so heavily addicted to our daily routine that even the thought of slowing down fills us with gloom. We forget that this emptiness is not a curse it’s what that has been bestowed on us as a reward of all those years at work. Why do we not see it?
Are we so lost that we don’t see the light the end of the tunnel. Do we love the darkness so
much that even the thought of light scares us. Out of all the living beings, only humans walk on two legs and have the ability to choose. Then why do we choose to ignore the voice within is. Why do we fail to see the beauty of “now”?
A few days back someone who holds just as much importance in my life as before and with whom I had no contact for quite sometime now accussed me of being partial to “men” and “boys”. That someone read all my blogs and found my stories soft on male. She texted me “Is it your sordid past you write about mister or are you really that selfish, if it is so stop accussing and prophesizing your sorrows. I wonder if you would ever tell the other side of the story”. So here it is, first time I am trying to write a story with a women’s point of view. I Hope it does justice to her thoughts:
The story begins:
She walks back towards her house in the uptown area of New York. The weather is good and summer is what every New Yorker looks forward to after a harsh winter. She decides to walk towards her house which is 6 blocks down from the next right from the upcoming signal. The gentle breeze blowing across her face forming swirls on her perfectly ironed skirt as if caressing it with a gentle pace that is not too fast and not very slow either, just perfect so as not to destroy the pleats formed on the front clothe. The momentary pleasures tend to wither away as soon as they are formed like a lover’s touch or the early morning glow of the rising sun, which leave you longing for more. Today she was in no mood to go home early. There is nothing expecting her at home at this hour anyway the kids won’t be back from the evening tuitions until an hour and Ric had already called that he would turn up late. So she decides to make the most of this opportunity today which is hard to come by her. She used to be a regular visitor to the beaches during her post graduation years at the NYU until her kids and husband took the better of her.
The gentle wind was threatening to gather some speed, with the met department already sounding an alarm of an approaching storm she knew the timing cannot be perfect. Coincidentally she found her legs turning towards the left instead of taking the right which was her usual way to home. A force pushed her towards the direction that she had stopped taking since that fateful day 16 years back. She knew she had to turn back from here, the way to her home was not so sandy, it was hard. It can’t be so irregular after all New York doesn’t have space for irregularities, here people and things are alike, perfect. She wouldn’t have been where she was if it was for the irregular. But today it was different, she thought. She stopped thinking right there “let me see where this force takes me“, as someone from her distant past echoed “you need to go with the force , at least sometimes, you always try to be so very hard“. Maybe she was hard but hardness was the weapon of a woman, a woman can’t succeed if she is not hard because this is the only attribute that God did not bestow a woman with, He made her soft and supple so that she could be caring and loving. “She” made herself as hard as a rock and pointed at the edges so as to succeed and make her mark. In her mind she knew she had succeeded after all her life here at New York was a testament to that, but what about her heart, well she never cared about what her heart felt as long as the mind had a control over it. She kept walking until the sounds of the violent waves hitting the shoreline rang in her ears. She found herself standing at the perfect spot, for others it was a rough weather but for her it was a perfect time to visit her favourite pastime of those childhood days of her life in Cochin, India.
She stared at the vast expanse of the raging Atlantic that was hitting the rocks with all its might. She stood at the little opening of rocks inside the ocean just when a shower of sea water hit her face thus enabling her escape the thoughts that were beginning to overpower her and snatched her from the past, the past that was grim, a past that was not so distant as the date suggests it to be. She lies down on the rocks and looks above towards the sky. The night was falling on her in the form of little coloured openings from the sky . Even the sky has openings that are only visible at night, she thought. The sun had set down and it appeared as if the orange was the new black. A little strand of hair was hindering her vision of stars and the. She does away with the involuntary thought of removing it and kept her gaze at the place beyond the dark among the stars and the memories of her sordid past begin encompassing her her vision , her mind …………to be continued
Last time I had a dream of doing something, achieving something and giving my everything for something was about four years back. When expectations were sky high and the only thing I cared about was making a big 1000 letter name for me to showcase the world. Life takes turns and sometimes turns the world upside down and I found myself finishing the task at hand with no aspirations or hope of future prospects for me personal or career wise. That is life and you live it whether stoically or passionately, it’s your choice. I preferred the former way of life.
I am of the view that each one of us has a pole star in life that we continue to follow each and every moment. That pole star sometimes hidden from us but always comes out of the clouds and again shines like a bright dot. In my case it took four years. But four years is not that long when you consider it in light years. And suddenly out of the blue I got a meaning to move forward. To see the bright future for those who are meant to be languishing in darkness due to their fate while we the more privileged ones talk here about our lost chances and lost fucking meanings.
So with this view in mind and to find the answers to some specific questions that have been plaguing me I plan to embark on a journey that would take me on a new path completely away from my career and whatever I have done until now. I don’t care for myself because fending for me is the last relevant question that I have in my mind. But the questions that I need the answers to are what about my parents. Till now when I looked into their eyes it was filled with hope. A hope and content to give me a thriving and a comfortable future. But now when I look into them I find desperate attempts to stop me from this self-destroying feat that I suddenly feel a liking for. It’s a risk and the last call would be mine because this time father won’t be there to clean up my mess.
So I am stuck with options on one side of the road I have a life that guarantees me a certain minimum standard of life and on the other hand a life that takes away everything from me at one shot and gives me a chance to begin afresh. On one side people have suggestions to all the problems on the other side I have the opportunity to find the answers myself. On one side I will have a future on the other hand each and every child will have a future. But I know whatever I choose I will always have my pole star to guide me and a road to walk upon but what means will I have to travel on it will be defined by the side I take.
Sometimes options are tough to choose from.
There is an age old saying “try and try until you succeed”. Though the saying is true but we generally and mostly interpret it wrong. The saying tells us to recognize our goals first and then try to achieve them. In today’s times the entire idea of goals is misconstrued to the core. We end up doing or trying to excel at something that pleases everyone but us.
Recently I met people who initially I had thought were full of ambitions and the desire to do something. While looking for a job in the campus recruitment these were the guys who had already got one job but wanted another one. I asked them “Aren’t you happy with the job in hand” to this there answer was “Dude! Are you serious, what we have got is not a job but just a back-up plan, the real job is one that pays you well”. On the other hand I was very happily satisfied with the so called “back up job” but this remark made me a bit irresolute about my plans, I began thinking if I was the only one without plans, or was I too much afraid of failure that I am utterly happy with something that others consider just a “second option”.
So I too began looking for a “well-paying job” but to my disdain I found that this lookout was as futile as looking for gold in a coal mine. There is nothing such as “well paying” because nature hasn’t made anything as such otherwise what would dissatisfaction the root cause of success and failure dwell upon. I saw that people even after getting an 8 lacks job were running after a 10 lacks and those with 15 were looking a 20 lacks job and so on. But the race does not end here it goes on and on until the very end(no idiot not the world’s end but your very own end). In my case the search resulted in chewing on my early morning yoga session, then my evening workouts. I realized that in this search I was losing out on the things that truly make me happy and satisfied. When I use to ask myself “what would a better job that too in a field which does not interest me anymore, give me” the answer was straight “it would give you nothing but would only end this fanatic search”. And that too when I could have ended that search then and now because I was satisfied with the current situation and the thing that truly made me happy and feel good had nothing to do with a well-paying job.
When God created life he took away the most important thing from us “satisfaction”, he wanted us to strive hard to achieve it. But today we are motivated by society, money and greed. Instead of letting our conscience being the judge we let our actions be determined by the thoughts and society. This takes us to a level wherein the voice of our conscience is subdued to such an extent that the entire communication channel between us and our inner self breaks down. Thus we end up being rats in a rat race that always ends up at the “edge of the cliff”. Though you might say that this gives you the chance to win the race but ultimately you win and die as a rat.
Remember you earn as much as you can spend. If your work does not give you time to spend the hard earned cash then what’s the point accumulating it. Because, frankly even if you slog for a 100 years you won’t be well off to make another Taj Mahal or buy the whole world but one thing that you will surely pay the price for is losing your true self.
I read in a magazine once “If you follow others the only place where you will end up is the exit”. I have made my decision and I am not afraid because I know my conscience will guide me even during the worst of times. The conclusion is to do things that make you happy listen to your inner self and make the best of what you have got because “a bird in hand is worth two in the bush”(the bush may be thorny, mind you) :).
“ I am done with this large equations and complex formulas” said Sameer using both his hands to shut his arithmetic book.
The loud thud startled his mother who was preparing the afternoon meal in the kitchen. She came out and looked at his father who was by now looking towards Sameer. He shot a glance towards the mother as if trying to decode what the future has in store for their son, because if not studies then how would Sameer fend for himself in this breathtakingly fast and ultra-competitive world. The same age old roti kapda makaan and yes car too, after all a car is a must have “zarurat” these days, question haunted them. Sam’s detest towards arithmetic was not something new, it was a topic as hot as a furnace and as steamy as the yummy chennai idli sans the yum part of course, in their 3 bedroom house. It all had been perfectly fine till Sameer’s choices and decisions were taken by them but as he grew bigger in body, God forbid his mind also somehow gained a few kilos thus prompting him to do what any Indian parents would never want their children to do themselves, yes folks sameer started thinking and making his own decisions when i say making it is no way similar to taking because that luxury is entirely his parents prerogative. Sam walked away from the dining area and stood at the window in his room overlooking the main road crisscrossing through the city not knowing where it will end or stop. After a few miles turning into a black line disappearing among a herd of cars and a fleet of people. He was over his bad mood by now and started to contemplate, which was what he enjoyed doing, he liked to reflect on things be it the rising sun, the blooming flower or a sparrow feeding it’s children on his window sill everyday. He laughed at mankind and always thought ” what if we have reached the moon, conquered the skies but ultimately technology the subject that his father wants him to pursue has taken away childhood away from a child who is bespectacled and hooked on to a tab the whole day. It has replaced mother’s lullaby with dick sized thing blurting shitty songs that make small children’s sleep, it makes parenting so very easy.” Man made cars to shorten the distances between places, unsatisfied he made aeroplanes only to further shorten the distance all this while polluting the environment. So the new past-time is controlling pollution and so summits, reports, protocols and what not to reduce the pollution entered into the scene. Maybe technology has a solution for this too, but how far are we ready to go in order to satisfy our ulterior motives and make life easier. We create problems and then find their solutions which only give rise to more problems and many more solutions. A person is intertwined in so many things that ultimately running behind pleasures becomes his sole motive. Although Sam did not know what he wanted to do in life, but he surely knows that he would not be a part of this “pleasure seeking, self-destroying” herd. He looked once more at the road and now the black line was a bit clearer or at least he could look farther anyway.
So the bottomline is don’t be plagued by the question of what you want to do, because that question seldom has one concrete answer, try picking out things that you will surely not do in your life. At the dusk of life when the stars are twinkling and the moon is shining you will know that all this while everything that you did was all that you could have ever loved and enjoyed. That will make the night less dreary and more starry.
Its still dark, the sun’s rays haven’t still dispersed the darkness as he rubs his eyes and looks out of the window by his bedside, it’s time to leave. The silence outside captivates him for a moment it feels like yesterday. Was it last month or was it last year, the memory has surely blurred maybe he should really go back to his old habit of having walnuts regularly. It seems age has really caught up with him or is it the memory so blurred and nascent that he shudders to think about the times gone by.
He takes a deep breath and rises from the bed. It has been his routine for the past few years, the first thought in the morning isn’t about the meetings, work or children, it’s a question that is as unanswerable as “the life on mars” it’s the question “What if he had made a different choice 20 years back?”
For him life was not about relaxing, waiting or looking at nature. These were the things he used to scoff at, he wanted to reach the pinnacle, run as fast as he could, grasp every laurel and cherish every success. Yes he wanted to be a tycoon.
He wears his “chappals” and gets ready for his morning chores. By the time it’s 5 he is already in his running gear. This habit of running is more of an addiction for him. At first he used to run ahead of life, that was a run for marks, concepts and big scores, then he ran from choices he made be it choosing career over love or the choice of shifting to USA the place of his dreams away from his parents and the past that reminded him of her, and ultimately after 20 years that run has become an addiction that coaxes him to run until his legs can take no more.
The run gives him a high, a high that addicts crave for and smokers smoke for, something that makes you drift away towards a mirage of bliss. After one hour he comes back home does some yoga. Yoga gives him a feeling of completeness, that was forged and knitted in a cocoon of success and aspirations, long back, and it gives him some time with himself. After a quick shower, he eats his cereal and starts to leave.
Just when he is about to embark on another of those long days of work, his wife gives him a kiss on the cheek and his children give him a hug, he surely has a nice beautiful family for whom they have so much to offer but for them he has so much less. He ,makes his mind to take them on a holiday this summer, but he falls short of translating this thought into words lest he fails once more like he always had thus breaking their hearts partly because of his work and partly because he has a habit of never taking a leave from work. Marriage was a pact he had entered into at his mother’s behest 15 years back, he doesn’t remember the conditions of the pact but this bond a result of that pact has given him two little kids and a life to look forward to. If being a husband was all about being a companion and a supporter and being a father was about being a protector, he was a good husband and may be a good father too but when it came to sharing the proximity with his wife he found himself escaping. He had never imagined anyone sharing his private space with him other than her old love because he had promised ‘her’ that, and maybe ‘she’ had done the vice versa, but he still adheres to the commitment. This way he still prides in his devotion to something that was never desired in the first place, he fails to understand that true love does not have desires nor is it a choice, he is somehow clinging onto the past waiting for something that is long lost and gone, a relation that always had perforated contours that he failed to see or realize.
His wife whispers ‘congrats ‘ in his ear and hands him an envelope with the seal of the business committee of the city. With a wry face he opens it and reads , he takes a deep breath and says ‘thank you’, he has won the businessman of the year award and he has been invited to collect it with his family at a function this weekend. With this he turns to leave.
But while opening the door of his car he looks back, his wife helping his daughter with something she has picked up from the garden, and waving at him, they are happy for him. This makes sense may be this is the only thing that makes sense, for the past years while he has been elusive of them, they had been always there for him. He turns back and walks towards them, today he won’t go to office, he picks up his daughter in his arms and walks back inside. He had made a choice 20 years back and he has made a choice today, the only difference is he is sure of the choice made today. Be it 20 years back or now, surely choices do matter in life.