I cross my legs, lean against the plush and cozy sofa and gaze through the well-designed railings of the gothic-style windows. I hold my cup of coffee, sniff in its aroma, and look up just in time to see my wonderful twin-monsters enter the living room. While Aryan is bubbling with the “I will rule the world!” energy, Rhea’s eyes have just been opened to the “big bad world” due to the (ongoing) initial days of college. I see them arguing over some petty issue and peals of laughter escape my lips before I know it; I am transported back to the time when my brother and I used to argue like that, too. I close my eyes, reverse the direction of the pendulum and buy a ticket to travel amidst the pandemonium of all those years and time that flew by me. I get off the train, and the first person I see is – my own self, at the blooming age of 17 years.
She’s all decked up, waiting for- I forgot his name only to (later) realise that he stood her up. I want to tell her, but I can’t; what I can do is rejoice in the knowledge of the fact that there is someone much better out there, just for her.
She will go on a lot of dates (as she has this fairytale-like notion of ‘love’), some of which I sincerely regret from the bottom of my heart, because a few of those men were just so …creepy, and I think I knew that back then as well, but hey, I was in my youth, my prime time! YOLO!
Haha. “YOLO”. Well, all these situations have contributed a lot to my reservoir of emotional wisdom that I have amassed throughout these years so, no, I won’t wish for them to not happen; that is how I have become this person today.
“TODAY?! YAY! LET’S DO THIS!”.
I open my eyes (with a jolt) to see the 19-yr-old-me jumping up and down because her friend’s birthday bash is at ‘Tryst’, a very famous “party place”. Sigh, those were the days; those carefree, responsibility-free and “YAY” ones. All the parties, the crazy dancing sessions …my my, what would she say if she were to see my life now! The concept of reading and writing books, and preferring a hot water bath over meeting a hot guy or attending a hot party – would be pretty heartbreaking for her; knowing her, she would probably say “HA, no way dude!” in that whiny voice of hers (….and mine).
Not that she should be blamed for not wanting to accept her future’s reality…the moments of our youth were golden; I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. As I feel my eyes turning moist, I chide myself for making this round trip into a nostalgic one as well, but that really can’t be helped now, can it?
As I picture her vehemently refusing to accept the truth of her future, I see that she has graduated from Crocs to flip-flops. Instead of her sweat-laden face (due to Basketball), I can see a strong tinge of kohl under her eyes. I overhear her telling someone how she loves playing Table Tennis now. Earlier, it was Badminton – then, Basketball - now, TT. I notice this and realise how her definition of love has changed until now, and will continue to do so. The feeling is the same, but the subject of her directed affection changes with every new phase of her life, but it doesn’t mean that the love is gone. It’s there, and it will appear in different forms throughout her life, ranging from boys/girls to scarves and Counter Strike.
I shut my lids to take a break from the heavy gust of nostalgia, and when I open them, I see that she is 25 years old now, extremely formally dressed. Gone are the flip-flops and unruly hair- they’ve been replaced by her love for heels and tidy buns. She gets invited for a party after work, but an evening with her special one (and a good night’s sleep) trumps it. I smile to myself and realise how funny it is that we human beings have standard meanings of certain words in the dictionary, and yet those very elucidations are constantly changing, through every chapter of our lives. As we grow up, a lot of words begin to hold different connotations unlike how it was in the past. As I watch her, I see that for her, happiness is to cuddle with her sweetheart and not dance around in clubs with a million guys around her (while for some people, happiness could mean the latter as they grow up; it is a very subjective matter). I also notice that for her, ‘love’ is to work in the field of what she actually enjoys and to not shun and sham away because an important “hang out” session is going to be missed.
As we move from highly energised stages to our, let’s say, sobered down versions, all the ups and downs are a part of the Big Plan, which fortunately, or unfortunately, breaks a lot of illusions, thus making us see things in a different light throughout our lives; that is how our Life Cycle is supposed to function. During our youthful days, we are hopeful of the future. We see this shiny and bright land awaiting us; we are extremely chirpy baby birds just waiting to fly out into the world, experience and explore the heavenly winds and the fluffy clouds (especially of the big towns and cities) with not too many responsibilities, for ourselves. And that’s when the storms come, the bigger-bird attacks start and the things we loved at one point of time don’t matter that much anymore. We begin to enjoy the pleasure of perching under a shady branch, away from the humdrum of the heavily-industrialised city life.
I take a deep breath, and my eyelids now face her as a successful working mother, with two kids and a loving husband; her eyes have lost that “rosy” image of life – scratch that – her eyes have realised how misguided that rosy image of life had been, and all her mirages have faded away. There are innumerable responsibilities on her shoulders, but she accepts them without any cribbing because this is the life she has chosen for herself. Now, the pleasure of spending quality and peaceful time with her family is way more than drinking away to glory. The joy of positive medical reports beats that of drama and useless gossip, and the happiness of a loan being sanctioned, without any glitch, is immense!
As I look at her again, suddenly, I see my husband by my side, staring at his younger self (watching his story), too. Well, why am I not surprised?! It’s been 25 years and we’ve always shared our journeys, so why should this one be excluded? Also, I think all of us embark upon this very trail to get that sensational taste of reminiscence.
He smiles at me, and we hold hands and then, we hear two people chuckling at us. Our younger selves cannot seem to control their laughter. Seeing our puzzled looks, they speak in unison –
“You think that we are different people, but we are not; we are the same through every course of our lives. Love and Happiness begin to have different connotations, but let us ask you something, do you regret even a single bit of your past?”
We shake our heads and say, “No!”
“Exactly, because we are still alive inside you; every age of our soul(s) is still breathing inside you. Its status may have gone from ‘active’ to ‘dormant’, but it is last seen almost every single day! We have seen you tap your toes to the music you once danced to like it was your last day; your hope and visions haven’t died – your ‘Utopic’ ones have been buried. You have aged physically, but not emotionally, except for the lessons and pearls of wisdom taught by your experiences. You know that if it were possible, you wouldn’t mind living that kind of life all over again. Look around you! Your wings are still alive and fluttering, you may have evolved, but you are still chirpy baby birds at heart, burdened by endless responsibilities. THOSE are the items clipping your feathers, not your particular age or phase of life. It is up to you to indulge in your youthful sense from time to time, because, in your own words, YOLO.”
“Not my words; those are Aryan’s!” I thought to myself, as I took in every single word of their truthful lecture.
“What are mine, Ma?”
“Huh? Oh, nothing. Go for that party you asked permission for, your exams are over, I don’t see why you shouldn’t go.”
“But love, he needs to complete his…”
I looked at my hubby dearest, and we both shared the same look of realisation. He nodded and smiled at me.
“Whoa, Ma, you’re the best! But what made you change your mind?”
“Now off you go, before I change it again.”
As I kept my cup of coffee on the table, I decided to take out my dancing shoes and go out for a dinner date with Yash because somewhere, through the historical ages of swayamvars to current “ILY”ers, through club life to cub life, through play to work, there is one thing which is constant and it should never be forgotten, and that is –
Dil toh baccha hai ji.
Sketch By: Krishna Kaku