To have an awareness of what we want and how we are going to attain it is a complex plan that we all should have. One may ponder over the current path of life and question the legitimacy of the path it has taken. One day we want to be away from confines of routine and follow our adrenaline rush and the other day the protective embrace of monotony makes us excited with a single word of acknowledgement. Are we too lazy to rebel against the options life throws at us or are we minions to destiny? Sal was too engrossed in avoiding these questions.
Each day Sal performed with other students. He often forgot his lines and joked over his age. Other students ignored his antics and didn’t say much as they respected him for his craft. Sal performed while breathing under the skin of his character. The faculty and old students kept debating what stopped him from making it big in life.
Ray silently observed Sal and while exasperating, he questioned his own talent. He contrasted the paths Sal and he had taken. He probed the purpose of enrolling in the institute. He was given a time frame of six months to learn and absorb as much as he could. Sal was his creative threat and creative inspiration. Within next two months he was to be launched. Expectations and comparison to his stalwart family were least of his worries. What constantly pinched was the fact that he knew he was not made for the craft. Sal’s techniques made him wonder if this is what he really wanted.
Being naturally talented often demands the need for being in the right place and at the right time. The constant introspection of ‘was this the original plan’ is a terrible way to spoil evenings and nights. Even after mastering a craft for years, one may get the nervous pangs. The pangs poke fun when we face continuous rejection. Was Ray right in pursuing an art he was not made for but destined for? Was Sal right in pursuing an art he was made for but not destined for?
Sal silently observed Ray and while exasperating, he questioned his destiny. He knew Ray had no innate traits but the acquired trait of his family name over weighed any other flaws in his career path. Within next two months Ray was to be launched. The sting of jealousy bit Sal but didn’t encourage him to fight with the routine. There were some moments where he gathered and absorbed the notion of self-belief that he was better than him. Such moments quickly withered away whenever he saw Ray’s name in the newspaper. Sal continued to act.
Both were leading each other’s life swapped as a terrible joke. Both of them kept wasting evenings and nights fighting with the ghosts of past’s plans.
Why most of the times we end up being the mediocre person? Why fame eludes those who escape the luck line? Why do we keep hanging on the hope for that one chance that will re-write our destiny? Why is that most of the times we keep being the average person people notice but don’t know about?
Why is that we lack the awareness of what we truly want and how we are going to attain it? Sal was too engrossed in avoiding these questions.
Currently listening to – Har Taraf Har Jagah Beshumaar aadmi, phir bhi tanhaiyon ka shikaar aadmi // Zindagi ka muqaddar safar dar safar aakhri saans tak bekaraar aadmi
‘These are beautiful flowers didi, very fresh, offer to the devi-she will make you engineer didi. Please buy them didi ( “Sister” in Hindi). I may have very conveniently ignored her feeble voice at first go but the word engineer rang a bell in my mind. I looked at the tiny little girl standing in front of me with a basket bigger than her own size. There were beautiful garlands of marigold and few loose marigold and roses. I was waiting to get an autorickshaw at Laxminarayan road. She repeated the sentence like a pesky alarm clock which had made my life a turnaround hell. I looked at my watch and realized I was very late for my coaching class. ‘Didi please buy some flowers didi-devi will help you in your MBA didi’- she spoke again in her feeble voice-a voice so thin that it could even cut through my ear drums. I was about to tell her to go away when I realized the sound of MBA with a slight delay. I asked her how did she knew I was trying to do MBA. She smiled and I saw her teeth- two of them widely breached in between. She giggled and said -’all the students who come to the temple either ask for success in Engineering exam or MBA exam, they pray a lot near the idols and I heard them saying it‘.
I was obviously very late for my coaching class so I thought of buying garland and offering to the idol. I asked her name. She giggled and said- ‘Dolly’. Her enthusiasm was reflecting brighter than the soil on her torn frock and larger than her small frame. She quickly took the five rupee coin and kept it safely inside her basket. She took a piece of newspaper and quickly rolled a garland with white twine. I secretly wished if I could solve the data interpretation questions with the speed with which she tied the twine around the paper. I went inside the temple and actually prayed for my success in the CAT examination.
She was talking to another young boy when I came out. She was saying with great prominence that her garlands were a proved key to success in the Devi maa temple. The boy nodded and immediately gave her a ten rupee note.
I went to her and asked her why is she not attending school. She looked at me and answered in her same feeble voice- ‘Baba got his leg amputated in the factory……how can I go to the school..who will feed my little brother?‘. I was about to ask her another question when she spotted another young girl and yelled- ‘Aye didi‘. She went to her and came back with ten rupees.
Before I could talk to her anymore I saw Dolly walking to an old man and saying -’Baba buy garlands for devi - your children will take care of you’.
I wasn’t interested in her sad little story or her struggle for survival. I wasn’t feeling any pity also. I was sure of her because I knew she was an MBA with specialization in life. Her marketing concepts were far clearer than mine. She knew advertising and knew her target audience very well. Her positioning strategy was clear and she was already an expert in Consumer Behavior. And here I was standing wondering over fate of even getting an admission in a reputed institute. I looked at the remaining flower petals which Pujari jihad given me and thought- may be I still have a chance!
A jolt from reality always shows the difference between what we aspire and what we have actually achieved. Not knowing what to do was the underlying cause of most of his miseries. The taken for granted achievements coaxed him to submit his dreams to struggles of daily life. The day was predictable but some of the dreams still struggled in eyes. The old musical notes flew out of the tightly tied file and touched his feet when the hands hurriedly tried to perfect the tie knot. Battling with immature demands of his inner child was an art he learnt with his batch mates while struggling to get placed.
A half-hearted hello was said to that child while laughing over a repeated joke heard near the pantry. A half interested glance was given to the several glossy magazines that enjoyed the freedom on the breakout room table. The pool table and dart board reminded him of several bets that were placed in one life time that was lived a long ago. Some old friends found place in the instant messenger window. The chat engine never encouraged him to connect with them. The banalities of conversation gave him another excuse to submit his aspiration to struggles of his daily life.
It is not that that he didn’t try to let the inner child win or take over. He tried. But the taken for granted achievements of his job title and monthly e-payments gagged him. The achievements mocked him when he took a look outside the office window. The people on the streets were walking in leisurely motion. He could have swapped places but he was being mauled by the responsibilities that the recent appraisal got in. The clients were the ones who talked to him at length and his team was the one who listened to him for too long. Although, ‘was he heard’ was a discarded question altogether.
The evenings were spent dragging himself to the vacant apartment. It was never his home. Several channels were flicked and nothing could amuse him. The frozen meals were heated and dishes were done. The refrigerator was searched for something more to satiate his hungry inner child. Any amount of ice cream or frozen pie couldn’t satiate it. It was as if the inner child wanted more than a sweet dish. It was as if the inner child wanted some time off from the life he was allegedly leading. It was as if he wanted to backpack across an unknown continent. It was as if he wanted to escape the captivity of social networks that guaranteed anything but connection. It was as if he wanted to yell once and tell others to shut up. It was as if he wanted to slower the pace of world that zoomed in front of him.
To deny herself the pain of missing him was like denying her the privilege of getting up and facing each new day with misery. She wondered what had transpired. When did the positions got swapped and when she got to be on the other side of the court in this relationship?
Frivolous thoughts crossed her mind. Of checking his old text messages and the several old voice messages on the answering machine. There was again a struggle to find a tone that assured her he was pining for her as well. The fake self-assurance and the burden of her forgiving attitude was driving her towards finding a new level in the courtship. She knew that this has been cruel to her and him. To find a comforting voice or a calm assurance was the sole motive left. Love indeed does strange things to you. It might make you happy but with it, it brings a whole new set of illogical arguments that gets you to support any idea or thought that will make you feel assured that the other person is an equal stakeholder as well. It makes you calculate fake assumptions that the other person knows you as much you want him to know you. This is where the expectation nudged in.
Expectations and calculated assumptions tethered the sanctity of their relationship on the public front. On the personal front, it had reached the status of ‘taken for granted’. The over confidence of not ever losing touch and keeping the flame alive was stamped with a degree of surmountable trust. They had reached a point where they knew what words were coming out of each other’s lips and what thoughts crossed each other’s mind. The predictability had created rough edges around their daily communication. This is where the void peeped in.
Emptiness was always there. But this time it was different. It was sonorous and pricked their hope of making things work like the last time. He knew that the status quo of hope was a banality that any long term distance guaranteed to its holders. He had spent many dull evenings being carefully careless to avoid another mock confrontation of saying a vacuum laminated I love you. She had also felt her stone eyes devoid of any more emotions. The tethering was a continuum for him as it brought stability to his severely routined life. The tethering was a continuum for her as it occasionally brought tears to her stoned eyes.