January 15, 2003

My People

It is remarkable that you could assign any xyz name to this city and I would not notice much of a difference even after having lived in it for three years now. It is not essentially the fault of the city but more or less one of mine, that people make the city for me than it being the other way round. Yes, there are places that I love going to, but those are not places I would miss a lot even if I have to set up shop elsewhere.

But it is scary at times to think how much I stick to a core group of people anywhere. Scary, because if all of them decide to disappear together on a given day I am in serious trouble. Life for me is essentially a log book of time past and time that is yet to arrive. The past is filled with entries of fond memories and the future with little plans of meeting up and spending time with my favourite people and the anticipation of it. You take that away from me and even the most familiar of places become alien with shreds of memories hanging on to them making for a bizzare out-of-bodyish experience.

I was never one for ambition, I never wanted to fight to save the country or become a millionaire or become popular. In fact I had a mostly unspectacular childhood with no broken bones and countless cuts and bruises in your average middle class nuclear family. Most of those years have been voluntarily and involuntarily cleaned out from the space it used to occupy in my memory for reasons that are too personal to state here. But all I remember even then what I wanted in life was to keep it all together and keep them all happy, even if it meant not putting up my pathetic academic record for parental approval and scrutiny. So whatever that has transpired since is mostly pot luck that events that happened around me decided to brew up and guess I have made a reasonably good meal of it.

A close friend of mine is very fond of saying that she understands where you come from, in the sense that you can never really erase the traces of where you came from and what you really are. It is a statement that is very true, you can never really run away from it all even at the farthest corner of the earth. Nor do I want to now. There was a time when I wanted to and tried my best too, only to realise that distance is nothing when it comes to the mind and things that have to be dealt with have to be dealt with eventually.

The same legacy is very much on display with respect to getting somewhere in life. Having seen my folks start with nothing but a mountain of debts and loans to pay through, starting on their life as the nuclear family with nothing more than a bicycle for transportation to end up twenty years down the line as highly respected people in the society with a more than comfortable lifestyle means that your own aims really do not go beyond a roof to sleep under and three square meals in a day.

Once you get there, then the question of "what next?" pops up on every screen you look at. Money is not really an issue, the world is large enough of a scam to support a comfortable lifestyle if you know to talk your way through and there is very little integrity left in it anyway to shrink from exploiting it citing morals or ethics. So, it all comes down to people again. Form a core group and make it your life. It is pretty hard for most people to understand why things work out that way. Even I am at a loss when it comes to explaining that, for there are no contracts social or emotional that binds us together. Then again, whoever said relationships were easy to understand and interpret.

Do not really know if it is because I am getting on in age but the core has begun to matter more and more of late. To the extent that I am willingly ignoring the ones on the periphery so that I can spend the maximum amount of time with the core. At times it can go to the extent of going sleepless for periods that extend for more than 24-32 hours because of my working hours. Maybe it is that you really cannot afford to muck up at this age, there is really not much of the past you can lean on anymore when you pretty much decide how and why you live your life. You have run out of excuses now.

Maybe it is just insecurity. Something funny that I have noticed of late is that whenever I tell someone "I won't let you go ever" it is more or less a roundabout way of pleading "please do not let me go". Put the same logic to most other things and the results can be pretty funny. But, to be downright honest I am scared of losing the four to five people who are absolutely precious to me now and I really do not want to even imagine what life would be like once they move on.

Some day it will happen I know, we all have our lives to make, but now is all I have with them and that is scary enough to treasure every moment I can spend with them. It has its nice sides too, I no longer shy away from telling people how much they mean to me or admitting that I need them as much or even more than what they need me. When you have an ego and pride the size that I have, that really is something.

It is not confidence or courage that drives it but pure white fear that tomorrow they might not be there and the fear of then having to live in an alien city in the company of ghosts called as memories.