At this weird stage in life, I find myself perplexed. Perplexed by the future which lies ahead, perplexed by the choices I have to make and mainly trying to balance myself in my battle with societal norms and constraints. As a third year student of Delhi University, all I see ahead is mystery ahead of my B.A degree. I am tangled in the yarn ball of my career, social life, and everything else life is going to throw at me for the next forty years (If I manage to live that long). I meet friends and acquaintances who are in the mental paradox of having everything sorted for them. They believe their 9 to 5 job is the only way there is to live a comfortable life and how I am being an idiot for believing that my heart is leading me somewhere. My parents blabber endlessly about how my friends are going to surpass me with their huge mansions and luxury cars; whereas I will prove to be a nuisance to my family (of course the days of Taare Zameen Par and 3 idiots are long gone). Being at home remains toxic and being out with my so-called ‘friends’ doesn’t help either. My ideas yield enthusiasm in people at times but fail to get them out of their deep rooted desires of finding solace in a life of comfort and prosperity with minimum struggle.
I remember the time when I was 5 or 6, the only concern I had was how I could show the balls to go and play cricket with the big guys outside. When I would come back home bruised and hurt, I would be a celebrity in the house. Apart from first aid, I would get calls from my dad from his office asking whether I was okay. And now, the parents are same but the wavelength and thought process don’t match. Discussions yield friction and silence is misunderstood. There is love and care, but no time to express it wholeheartedly.
When I grew a little older, cricket had become my passion. I wanted to learn and play for team India. That’s when I realized that my dreams were coming in the way of the life my family had already planned for me. I would be discouraged to learn what I always wanted to do and was asked to focus on my studies instead. That’s how, in order to make my progenitors happy; I gave up on my dream. I loved my mother’s affection and cared for my father’s prestige more than any dream I had. That’s how the utterly messed up story of my life began.
As moments passed by, I came to terms with the real world and what it wanted out of me. The days of innocence were melting to big words like maturity and practicality. Politics, broken friendships, futile relationships took their toll on me. My shortcomings were laughed at loudly while my positive traits were whispered amongst few. My belief of holding on to my childlike innocence was slipping from my hands. I was being forced to grow up. And I hated it!
Fast forward to now- the lamp of innocence feebly illuminates my soul. I try to protect and cover it as much as I can, but there are moments when it extinguishes briefly and lights up again. Writing gives me solace and works like meditation for me. But then again, people and their philosophies of life try and bring me down and I resist and battle them like a lone warrior. And I want to see where it takes me because my heart believes it will. Even at the cost of losing people who I considered were understanding enough of my desires. I have been proven wrong and my belief structure has been reframed. I am open to accepting life as it comes and I will be in the battle until I win or every iota of my existence is wiped out.
They said god would be waiting and welcoming me if I ever visited him. I decided after a long banter between the heart and the mind that I was going to visit him. I ignited my car.
On a chilly winter morning, I reached the temple complex. It was refreshing to see the birds chirping, a group of women practicing yoga in the park and the drops of dew on the grass. After my moments of reminiscence, I removed my shoes and entered the temple. Bowing down my head in front of wax idols for some strange reason, felt good.
I noticed a familiar face, smiling content in his peaceful demeanor and went ahead to talk to him. He was applying tilak on foreheads of children that stood there, just like he did to me in my younger days.
“Pandit ji Namaste!”
“Namaste Beta! Who are you?” He inquired, perplexed.
He shifted his attention off me and commanded the children to stand in a queue for the ‘post pooja toffee distribution’.
“Where is my toffee, Pandit ji?” I playfully gave him a hint that I had been in his toffee squad for years in the past. He laughed.
“No beta! This is for kids as Prasad. You are a grown man now! You don’t get any.” He replied smiling and started teaching the Gayatri mantra to the kids, who in the joy of being given candy obediently repeated everything he said.
I smiled to myself as I walked back to the car sans the toffee. I was no longer a child anymore, I had grown up.