December 17, 2003

Twenty five

In a few more days I would have crossed another insignificant milestone, leaving behind in the process yet another number, only to claim a different one. And the only thing that I have learnt in all this? Not much else than that there is very little black or white left, there is only grey and vast swathes of it. And yes, after years of bounding up dark alleys in search of a non-existent destination, I think I am finally getting to be at peace with my restlessness and its insularity.

As I held that photograph in my hand, enveloped in the bubble of warmth that is to be treasured, I saw her face in my hand and the face in the photograph. I felt at that moment that this is so ridiculously wrong, that is one place where she belonged and she is not there and at the same time you realise that the warmth is there only because it is wrong. How does a right lead from something that is wrong? How can you substitute one with another? I asked and I got no answer. A rebellious teardrop was bravely wiped away by her.

In all these years I have fought like a madman. I have fought giving up on people, I have fought giving up on emotions, sentiments and memories that litter places, events and silly songs that can transport you in time to the deepest recesses of a cold storage where memories toxic to your system are stashed away. Now, in this season of overwhelming changes, I am learning I have to let go, I am not the one with the magic wand to set another's life right. Hell, I cannot even find that elusive spell that would set my life right.

There was no sleep for a long while after that, a part of me just walked away. And when it walked away, it took my blanket of hope with it, leaving me exposed to the elements. I was there, alone and shivering, facing that same breeze I so dread, yet one that I am so familiar with. Strangely, I did not feel bitter, I just wished things would only revert to the way it was meant to be, the way it was. I wanted to believe it can be, even at the risk of feeding the poisonous cure of hope, I lit a low flame, I hope it would burn and burn bright.

One of the very few things I had learnt from my father, when he was teaching me how to drive, was to never drive into something that you are not sure of or something that you cannot see. I follow it to a great extent when I ride to and fro from work, but in life and people I have never done that. I have always believed in an element of good that is intrinsic to even the most cruel of people. I owe a majority of the mistakes in my life to precisely that, but it has been worthwhile because every now and then it works and I do not give a damn if I look a fool because of that.

She fell asleep soon after that, leaving me stranded at the shores of helplessness. It is the hardest thing to come to terms with when you face another just like you. Eventually, sleep did come to my side of town as it rained heavily outside, I muttered a silent prayer, for someone who I will have to let go, to a God whose existence I do not acknowledge. Like I recently did for another. Morning had to interrupt. I charge in my usual fake currency of disposable fantasy. Click once, keep the picture in your mind, throw away the context.

Fear is not about what you cannot see. Fear is about what you can see. About what you are and where you are headed. It is about how miracles are there to happen only if you want it to happen and sad for you if you do not want it to happen. Fear is about realising one fine day that there is no "life is elsewhere", this is it, raw, painful and imperfect, without any of the finery. Fear is about having to finally take a turn in life because you want to take that turn and not because you want to avoid the other turn and not knowing for sure if this is THE turn and that there is no going back.

Miracles only happen if you believe in them. If you want to look at it, just being able to live is a miracle. I know she will have one soon. I cannot explain it. It is just a gut feeling and this time it will work and extract a huge price from me in its passing. A price that I am willing to pay. Does she know? I do not know. Does it matter? It does not. I might be poorer than a church mouse, but I am a very proud one at that. Letting go is an acquired taste. After all you do not give away parts of you without a struggle.

So, where to from here? I do not know. I am as clueless as I was before. Just that the cluelessness is kind of growing on me. The thing is, I am learning to appreciate my company and the scintillating conversations that we have at times. Most of the times it scares the life out of me. It truly does. But then, it is only me I am up against. Strangely, I am not bitter, I am not running anymore. If this is what it is, then let us face each other and see what happens. Twenty five years I have run, its time I put an end to this.