|One foot in the Real World
|Enroute to Bangalore airport to catch the flight to Goa, our taxi driver narrated this to us. The previous night at dinner his son had wanted to eat all his favorite sweets in the house, convinced that the world was going to end the next day at 11.00 am (having heard this from TV the child was sure this was the holy truth.) The next day, he had come to work before the boy was awake. Later he had had called up his son with the news that the world had ended at his place of work. He suggested that he would come over to pick up the boy and together they would drive away and out of the city. When the fuel ran out they would stop and wait right there for the end of the world. The boy was beyond himself with excitement. This was the adventure of a lifetime.
I loved the story. How amazing, to be carried away by your imagination, to sink into a story that your father spun for you and then live a thousand lives in just one minute. I longed to be young enough again to believe life was whatever I made it out to be. No! Strike that. I don’t want to be a teenager again with its accompanying upheaval, heart-aches and painfully awkward moments of insecurities. But just for a little while that evening I did wonder how it would be to be one of the batch of young graduates present at the party on that fragrant, balmy Bangalore evening.
They were friends of the daughter of the hostess, a friend of my husband’s who had organised the party to mark the twenty-first year of passing out for the batch of 1991. I didn’t think I belonged with that batch not only did I not know many of them, but while we were in the same age-group they all seemed to be in a different stage in their life-cycle. One packed with families, children and soaring corporate careers. And so I had inched my way to the other side of the roof-top terrace where the event was held. Stopping only when I reached within shouting distance of the twenty-something’s clustered there, giggling. One of the boys came up to his gang of friends “I was born the same year that they passed out… 1991” he said, a shocked look on his face.
I turned to his friend who was watching the crowd of elders on the far side, disbelief writ large on his face. “How does it feel” I asked him “to find out that just as the bunch of them there were passing out of university,” I pointed with my chin towards the middle-aged crowd in the near-distance “some of you were but a glimmer in your mothers’ wombs?”
A peal of wild laughter rang out just then from said bunch. Obviously, as the liquor in the bottles diminished in level, the spirits in the blood levels of the humans had steadily climbed.
“Mind-blowing” said the boy. “Mind-BLOWING” he repeated, as if saying it the first time was not enough.
It was 21/12/12. The world as we knew it hadn’t ended. But something inside me–that fragile feeling of invincibility perhaps–felt slightly crushed. It felt paradoxical to realise that even as I had graduated years ago with stars in my eyes for the future, other young superstars were being conceived in wombs around the galaxy and now it was their turn to enter the real world with fresh hopes and ambitions.
Was that it then? We are born, we live and then we are gone. Some die young of chronic illnesses.
Some make millions of dollars selling off their fledgling software businesses to international companies, only to drown while scuba diving in exotic locales. Some live to a ripe old age, and perhaps they follow their hearts into what they really wanted to do, others perhaps died trying. Yet others just followed the tried and tested path and they seemed happy enough, distracted by family, friends and living vicariously through the borrowed energy of youth.
I wasn’t very old. I wasn’t very young either, anymore. Where would I go from here? Perhaps the trick was not to think too much. But to just be. To not fight fate too much, but to simply follow the spoor of the beast which appeared in front of you, even if that turned out to be a deer in disguise?