Zap. The biometric-data-swap-card had recorded my exit time. I hung the card round my neck and started walking down the steps to my car. Beep. My car opens with the automatic security system. I get in, turn on the radio and close my eyes for a second. Strange, technology has fixed so many things in our life; has made life so comfortable! But one bad day, and all the comfort seems painful. I know this rough day will end soon, I’ll be smiling, hanging out with my friends, yet it is so difficult to finish this moment.
I start the engine. And the tension begins to ease. It started as a necessity, then a luxury and now, after so many years, I never realised how much I enjoyed driving. I release the clutch and the car starts to move. Within seconds I am on the fifth gear. Wow. Was driving a passion?
I see the traffic turning a corner and follow the cars, with no real destination in mind. Following the crowd is easier. You don’t really need to think twice.
But where the crowd dwindles, I decide to plunge ahead. I am almost on the outskirts, driving for about an hour; have I left the city? I don’t know; haven’t kept track of the mile-stones. I am driving when I cross a tea stall. Wait. I reverse and head back.
It’s 8 years since I got out of college, could it be possible that I haven’t had this-something-that I thrived on for 8 years? That thought frightens. Could it be reality? What else have I left behind? I turn off the radio. I remove the ID-card and keep it aside. I relish the moment and the memories. I think about the child that I was and the man that I have become. I hear the oceans. I hear the winds whispering. How good do I feel about myself?
I close my eyes and think of all those things that bring a smile to me: my friends, my love, my family. But my heart plunges with a sudden adrenaline rush as I realise what I REALLY want to do, at that moment. I reverse, speed up maximum, and head straight to the one place I loved and that one place where I was my own person.
I walk to the auditorium. I climb the steps to it; to the back stage where we practised. I open the door and find it, placed exactly where it were supposed to be.
I pick it up and walk to the main area. I stand on that stage, to an audience of empty chairs; and I play the music.
I am thinking and I am thinking.And then I realise, that is just what I am doing! I am
SIMPLY just THINKING! And then I think, what is it that stops us from doing the right thing? What stops us from DOING and encourages us just to think?
The other day I was working on my system, early in the morning. (Early as in, really early.. as early as 10 am.) My mom enters the room. Sits on my bed and says, “So when is your life going to be in place?”. I stop what I am doing and look at her. She repeats, “You asked for time to do your own thing. We have given you the time. Now what? It’s not that we don’t believe in you, it’s just that we are wondering why aren’t you able to get a good job. And settle down?” And I think, how self-contradictory can a statement be? Yes, I get the answer in my mother’s last sentence. Yes, I guess that is the degree. I say “Mom, I only just finished my portfolio last week. I have just started applying to jobs. It will take some time before I get what I want. Besides, I made a conscious decision and took this break. It’s my choice mom.” My mom says, “Please Apsara. Don’t go that way again. I don’t want to hear all that. I am just asking when will you get everything you want?”
And I think, does anybody have the answer to that question? Aren’t “wants” something we can’t account for? When does man get everything he wants? I am thinking philosophy, when my mother’s expression tells me she is expecting a logically coherent answer, with a probable reference to the calendar; perhaps even the clock.
I explain “mom” and turn away in exasperation, with a frown that I try my best to hide.
“do you know what you are going to cook day after tomorrow?” I ask.
She says, “ what rubbish Apsara. Of course not. That depends on what vegetables I buy. This is irrelevant.”
“Mom”, I say in a calm tone, “ you don’t know what vegetables will be available in the market day after, and what you will cook following that; how can you expect me to tell you, when my life will fall in place?”
“keep arguing Apsara. You are just wasting your life”. She turns and walks away.
Great. First a struggle, a struggle that I am enjoying to the core, no doubt; but it is still a struggle! So first a struggle to define life and the path to head, and then to face constant criticism from parents who think you are the black sheep. Hmm… for them , they lost their beautiful MBA pursuing girl to a one who does nothing but writes weird poems, articles and quotes for weird images she has either drawn, photographed or downloaded. Yes, from their point of view, I am lost. From mine, I am just started, the right way.
But at that moment, I am not all that optimistic. So, I pick the phone and call my best friend (and worst enemy), and start randomly whining about how pathetic it is to survive, and how I want to stop all this and pick up the next opportunity and do anything. What is this journey of self discovery? Why the hell is it important at all?
I could simply do an MBA (having got a great score even without working too hard), get a classic high paying job, and settle down content. I’d be on my feet again. Free. A path where I work as hard (as otherwise), but manage material things faster.
He cuts me in, and says “Apsara, wait. Can we meet now? In 15 mins?” , “Now!” I exclaim. “Okay”, I agree. “Where?” , I ask. A moment’s pause. “At the zoo. I’ll see you at the entrance” he says and cuts the phone. ZOO! I wonder. Fine. I am there. I buy myself a cup of road-side-chai, and sip it, as I wait. I am half way through, when he arrives.
“So, how are we?” he asks, enthusiastically. “Am ok . Ab bol. Kyon zoo pe bulaya.?” I reply with the question.
“Apsara. Relax. We can talk in a while. Relax now.” We are walking and I try to concentrate on thinking about what my great philosopher friend has to say, but my mind is drawn to the ice cream parlour in-house. The best chocolate chips I have ever had.
“And what are you thinking?” he asks. “un.. hmm” I clear my throat, “nothing.”
And all of a sudden I wonder what I am doing there. Why am I walking in a zoo. Why am I thinking about chocolate ice creams. Why am I talking to a friend about my problem ; ultimately, as I always say, the battle is yours alone! Then why look around? Why not just act? Why not just concentrate on something, direct your energies anywhere, and eventually get results. I had read an article once, about a girl who was a BPO employee by night and an RJ by the day. So, if you really want to do something, you could always multi-task, right? I want a career in creative communications. So what! I could continue working technical, as well as pursue creative. But then, that’s what I always thought. And that’s what, never happened.
Conclusion: I quit my perfect job to pursue a dream.
Remarks : I went from being a talented daughter of the family, to being wasted citizen of the country.
The walk had brought us to the caged deer and I found myself staring at one particular hero, on top of a make-belief mount. Probably, the head of the herd. He had large horns, a firm gait, and visibly strong feet. He held his head upright, brisk, and confident. He was overlooking his fellow companions. Yes, they perhaps needed the comfort of his vigil.
“That is you”, my friend interrupted.
Huh? I gave him a quizzical look and went back to looking at the hero of the troop.
“You think he is happy?” the philosopher asked.
“ He is a deer even the lions would fear!”he continued.
“His acumen, his speed , his strength can even defeat the great carnivores. In the wild, when he is in charge, his team feels safe. He can protect, he can lead. He can do whatever he pleases. He has the capabilities.” My mentor paused. (Yes, by now he was on a slight pedestal.)
“But he is here. In the cage. Not living his full capabilities. Not living his dreams. Not doing all the things he could and wished to.”
“Suppose beyond this mesh is his forest, then what should he do?” He asked.
“He can’t do much. He can’t break free.” I reply.
“But he can try, can’t he?” my friend proposes.
The deer in question, which believes in his qualities, in his dreams, in his desires; could probably spend his whole life fighting the walls of his cage; he could keep trying till he breaks free, and enters the wild. He could win or fail. He could hope. He could look forward to a future.
Or, the deer in question could live a life of contentment. He could be comfortable with the position he held in his community. He could keep his mates happy, live a secure life.
In my reality, probably my MBA would have brought me to such a pedestal. A job , a position and respect in the eyes of even my grandmother. But I think, which path would I prefer to choose? Would I want the make-belief pedestal or would this pursuit of satisfaction-from-profession make me sacrifice my social status?
The free mind is our weapon. We can use it to liberate ourselves. We can use to do what we please. Strange, but only with a free mind can you feel happy! By free I mean, not idle; but free. Free will. No bondage. No restriction. It suddenly dawned on me, that this is so true for all of us! Even my first romance had once commented, “I love the free, aspiring Apsara. She can win anything”. “She” can, not because she is supernatural or fantastically talented. “She” can, only because she wishes to.
Free will. That is the strength. If you are in any profession by free will, do the restrictions, rules or principles bother you, thereafter? You can conquer the greatest of battles if you are doing what you wish to. In fact, then the challenges are fun 😉 and exciting. It becomes a sport , where you win because you are well-trained and playing out of love for the game, and not fear of survival.
Too much philosophy? Well, at least it explained why I was thinking of chocolate ice creams. Free will to cheer up .
It also explained why I think so much or why we all do. Free will again, in a restricted context. We are so often, so bound with undue or due concerns that we end up just “thinking” and not “acting”
Again, too much philosophy? 😉 well it only gets better.
“Look at this” he said suddenly, pointing at the gate for the toy train. The toy train doesn’t run any more, but the tracks are still intact. The gate was shut. You could see the tracks ahead of the closed gate, and the tracks leading to the gate.
“Duniya aisi hi hai. Pehle bolti hai aage rasta hai , aur phir bandh darwaze dikhati hai.”
Take a look yourself.
But the irony lies in the way the gate is shut.
Take a look at this again.
Duniya sahi mein aisi he hai ;).
Pehle raste dikhati hai, phir bandh darwaze. Par un bandh darwazon ke tale kamzor hi hote hai. Unhe khol kar koi bhi aage badh sakta hai, but kholne ki niyatt honi chahiye.
As you can see here, there is only a thin wire closing the gate. Anybody who wishes to cross only needs to put in that much effort to do so; and the then …………the road not taken, is taken.
The most unnerving context in which I have found myself lately, is the : – “Oh! It doesn’t really matter for you! Being a girl you have the option” – statement . And to add to that, the “Being a girl, you should…” sermons. I am obliged to write today for the very same reason; I found myself with a bunch of long-lost-friends, and one of them said it again, “Being a girl… I just thought I should ask you that…..”. I tried my best not to react, inspiring myself to write about it instead 😉 So here goes! – In the name of all those monologues , which had us biting our teeth in exasperation! Cheers!
My grandmother visits with all the possible warmth. As I sip my cup of tea, she asks me what I am doing these days. I tell her, “Paati, I am working on my portfolio. I left my full-time job a month back.” “But why!” she asks, in dismay. I say, “Well, I hadn’t really taken a break since my grads… So I am working on self-development so that my career prospects are better”. To which I hear the dreaded words “ But child! Why!! Why are you so concerned about your career?”.
I swallow. Look down. Look up. Well, it would be difficult to explain “why”; because it is about me! I battle my words in my mouth. “Because if I don’t care about my career, who will! Da” I think in my mind, but maintain the decorum of the house, keep silent, and with due respect, nod. She says “Being a girl, you have the option. You should stay on to one (temporary) job that would suit you best. You should learn other household tasks; they are (far) more important.”
I bite my teeth. I keep quiet.
My phone beeps one evening. “Wassup?” he says.
“Hey ! Long time! 4 months I guess? How are you :). We are having a get-together at home, right now. Helping Mom. Catch you later.”, I reply and the conversation ends.
Next morning I receive another text, “ Hi. How was your get-together? What did you cook?” I stare at the text for a second, and then reply, “ umm.. cook? You want yesterday’s menu??? ”, weird I think. Why should someone be interested in what we cooked at home! “NO!” He answers, “I wanted to know what YOU prepared for the party”. And instantly I think many things :
How did he presume I cooked?
How did he presume I WOULD cook for a party?
Why is he interested in my cooking?
A conversation about my cooking, after 4 months of silence?
I quit the debate and simplify the conversation, “umm…..I don’t really cook.”.“YOU DON’T!! oh my God” he retorts, sounding almost half heartbroken. “But how can that be possible! You told me yourself that you were helping your mother! What was that then?” He accuses, as though I were caught guilty in crime. Or, perhaps, almost anxiously, as though he were questioning his boss about him being fired. As I deliberate about which of the two suits his tone of question; a worried conversation follows, from his side, persisting almost the entire day about the virtues of a woman and her responsibilities. And finally, on a bitter note he ends, “I pity your husband whoever he is”. “Why”, I think, considering the fact that I don’t even have one! But I preserve the golden silence, despising another long endless chain of messages. But he, nevertheless, obliges. “If you don’t cook, what will he eat! He’ll starve. My god. A girl should cook. My wife will have to. ”, he concludes. And I switch off the phone. A self-proclaimed hero is better far, than near; even a text-message can be injurious to health because a rising B.P and temper does do much harm, even to a simple human being. Medically proven.
I turn to my work, and continue to work on my “full time job”, ME. I have an appointment with one of the companies I freelance with. In a conversation with the director, “But Apsara, being a girl , you have the option. Marry a guy, rich preferably, and you don’t really have to fret over your career!” I choke over my coffee. “I am not sure I have any such option sir” , I reply; to which I get a reassuring answer “ Don’t worry darling! There is someone out there who will take you”, and I think, am I an object?
An ex-admirer calls me, he wants to meet. I prefer a late night call. I return his call, and the conversation is directed to “Being a girl, I just thought you would want to be my wife and give me children. ” ; and I subconsciously check the statement ; “give me children”.Hmm… do people give children to eachother? like chocolates? perhaps… ,my thoughts interrupted, he says “I don’t want anybody to even think about you. I don’t want anybody to look at you. Forget your theatre dreams. Forget your media ambitions.”; “But you are only interested in your career. That’s the only reason we aren’t together. ” He adds spitefully.
I am 22 years old. Old highlights in many ways , while “young” highlights in other ways.
OLD because people all of a sudden feel I am in a “marriageable” age, or at least that I have entered the threshold. YOUNG because my career is only at the start. My dreams are still, a little away from realisation; and my aspirations can fill a novel. And hence, I like to believe I am young. I like to believe I have time to realise my ambitions and live my passions. I like to simply, believe.
Am sorry, but my dream is not about having children or to cook for my husband. My dream is not marriage. These aren’t my “dreams”. I know in my heart, that a family will happen someday, because I have a lot of love within me to offer to the universe. But where I stand today, I have a loving supporting family and my priorities are different.
Strange, but against the popular notion, “being a girl, you have an option.”, I wonder, do I? Do I really have an option?
For girls like me, who have been raised on moral values of equality, who have been encouraged to dream, who have learnt to believe in themselves, who aspire; how much of an option do we have?
Can I marry a guy who believes I am his property, with the prime function to deliver children for “him”? Can I marry a guy who feels I just have to cook every meal, every day. Can I marry a guy who doesn’t let me work? Can I be with a person who doesn’t believe that I am an individual?
The “options” are far lesser, aren’t they? On the contrary I’d have to look for a man supportive enough , who lets me be me, and respects my free will.
The point is, an individual identity exists for every human being. Why do we, then, live in clichéd social frameworks?
I respect all the beautiful mothers and wives out there, form the bottom of my heart, who are full-time home-makers. But, provided, THAT is what they really wanted to do. Every person has desires within. Something that completes you and adds significance to your being. If that feeling of immense peace comes from raising your family, or loving your husband, alone; then, THAT is the best thing to happen to you.
But if that fire burns for more, then you have a different direction to pursue. Not the path where we pass on our dreams to our children in heritage, for our lack of fulfilment, but a path where you pursue your dreams, Yourself!
A working woman, with an intelligence, emotion and creative quotient thoroughly satisfied can be a great mother and wife.
Why even think of giving up one life?
Besides, in the end, the battle is always yours alone. You face the test alone. And you face the failures and rewards alone. With the give and take of affections and warmth, the journey certainly becomes more enjoyable, but still, it IS only your own.
No one else can live your life for you, then why live your life one terms of others?
A healthy blend of compromises on the receiving and serving end, with a rational approach, is what makes a successful life.
And so there is nothing like “being a girl, you have the option”. And nothing like “Being a girl you should….”
There are too many fences we have drawn around us – for men and women, alike. But why live in them?
Life is a journey, and a Life-partner is someone with whom we can cherish, enjoy and share. An alter-ego or perhaps someone totally unlike you! Only the visions need blend and support. So, let’s just chill and remember that we all have an identity. And our responsibility is, nothing but, to keep that fire burning; to keep that light glowing with peace and happiness . It’s not about the “options” you have; it is about YOU. And YOU my dear, are the priority 😉 !
There is a world out there that is totally liberated. But this post, is a toast to those of us who celebrate the freedom of thought and action. This post is a toast to all our dreams, all our smiles and all our happy-endings 😉 Cheers!