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Quantum of Solace and a Dash of Hope…

June 26, 2009

These days I have been reading a wonderful novel by David Mitchell named “Cloud Atlas”. However, this post is not a book review, but about a series of images which can flash through your mind while reading a book. In one of the chapters of “Cloud Atlas” (Ch: An Orison of Sonmi ~ 45I), there is a passage which goes like this….

Archivist: A more general question, were you happy in those days?

Sonmi ~45I: Is happiness the absence of Deprivation? Is happiness the conquest of adversity or is it the sensation of being valued and fulfilled…?…

Reading those lines from “Cloud Atlas” brings back memories. Ghosts from the past, glorious days where the concept of future and planning ahead of time seemed futile and as I start brooding about things good and bad, terrible and terrific, I realise that I have a story to tell. It may not be an interesting read but from my point of view, it stands as a testimony for 23 years of life sprinkled with joy, pain, restlessness, struggle and chaos.

1992-One Summer Day.

Place: Thirumangalam, near Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

I probably stood first in a essay writing competition and the prize I got was a beautiful book by Thiruvalluvar named “Thirukural”. I was overjoyed. Back in those days, in our school we had to recite a verse from Thirukural every single day along with our morning prayer and I used to falter every single time I had to say something infront of some 80 odd students. Yes, I have lost that book, but no matter what I can’t forget the joy on my face on that day almost 17 years ago….

1995- A fine morning in the middle of Winter.

Place: Jalesar, Near Agra, Uttar Pradesh.

Winters in Northern India are pretty scary. Especially for a 9 year old who had lived all his life in the sweltering heat of AP and TN, it’s a nightmare. But the morning sun on a wintry morning can be a magical experience. It was also the perfect excuse to convince our teachers to conduct the classes in the garden under the sun. It’s not easy to live in a place where you are the only one in a 50km radius who can speak a language other than Hindi or English! But few things do live on forever…like the Aam ka Achar, Ber, Pappu ke Samose, Jelebi, 2 films a year, bewildered shopkeepers when they see me holding a egg tray (most of them came to a conclusion that I was carrying it to encase rosagullas), a huge concrete courtyard which I would broom once a week with clinical precision, two super cute cactus plants which I had named Mulayam and Maya, the kites and the tragedy….woah! I really miss all those things….

1997 – Sometime in July.

Place- Hyderabad.

My first taste of success which I can really call as Success was getting admission into a school which had secured 5 out of the top 10 ranks in board exams a year ago. But little did I know that I would end up facing an overwhelming gang of about 50 who were smart, brilliant and cool in a way. The next two years were probably the best days of my schooling. Life seemed to have opened a new chapter for me. I had discovered my love for History, Quizzing and a tactic to be in everyone’s good books all the time.


Place: Hyderabad.

I had slowly realised that the world we lived in was quite different from what it ideally should be. I began reading about Henry David Thoreau. I thought perhaps it was time to think about what I want to do. Again, you are just 18 and obviously no one wants you to think on your own. You are most probably expected/wanted and told to just follow.

And I followed. I walked and walked….and finally reached the gates of an Oasis in the middle of nowhere. What can I say? The moment I stepped into that paradise, the feeling was no less compared to that of Neo having been unplugged from the Matrix. Books, friends, movies, life and a million different things later I finally stepped into a zone where my actions would end up either as a success or as a failure. Did I want to classify my actions, my life as a success/failure? The answer will be a definite NO. But you can’t detach yourself from reality and expect things to happen. A senior of mine in college, always used to tell me that you can’t wait for an Angel and expect that Angel to solve all your problems! He was right. And it took me 4 years to realise that he was right.

2 years after college and another 1.5 years stint in a firm, when I finally look back, all I see is thousands of people I had met in all these years. Well it’s definitely great to see that there wasn’t anyone holding a clib to clob my head, I do see a lot of confused faces. Probably it’s a deep concern they express at my state of affairs. I can’t blame them for that, I am responsible for what I have been doing and dragging myself into a never ending mess. That brings me to the crossroads where I had started my journey backwards and when I think about whether I have been happy or not, all I can say is I couldn’t care less about it.

If happiness can be defined then I am sure we haven’t found the right words to describe it. People will say that happiness can be a lot of things like Freedom, doing the right thing, living a life as you want to..etc. But quite contrary to the general accepted phenomena that by nature we are all good people and our conscience never accepts us doing the wrong thing, I think it’s important that you live your life. Why think about the rules set by others and become one among the herd? Of course, few things have to be uniform across all communities of the society but you are you alone. You are not him/her or for that matter even They. In the words of Steve Jobs, “Life’s too short. Why waste it living someone else’s life?”.

Right now, I know exactly what I don’t want to do but if you ask me what I want to do, I definitely don’t have an answer. The quest for happiness in our lives leads us to some unchartered territories which can turn out to be tricky and scary at times. The words of David Mitchell still reverberate in my mind and as I try to make sense of those two questions about what exactly happiness is all about, I lose myself in the works of Michelangelo, Gaudi, Tolkein, Ayn Rand…I dream about people who have done something in their lives. I dream of things which I haven’t done so far. I dream about dreams which are too vague to remember. I dream of days spent in solitude wondering what life would be it was any different. I dream of people whom I have met and haven’t met so far. I dream about You. I dream about ME…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2009 6:00 pm

    Boy, you scare me.
    And releive me too, in a weird sense.
    Imagine this fucking life to be a big ocean. If u’re stuck in a whirlpool, somewhere far .. in another whirlpool am I trapped!
    From fear to anxiety to disgust to desperation, I too have come to a point where half the time I enjoy the whirlpool, and when I get tired, I don’t care what it does to me!
    But, one thing I learnt fellow wanderer, is:
    If u’re running, run the fastest and farthest u can, not bothering about where you’d end up being.
    If u’re hitting ur head against a wall, strike the hardest blow u can, not caring how much it would hurt.
    If u’re screaming, be the loudest u can.
    If u’re fucking, do it like u whip the demons(n angels) out of her.

    I know I could simply quote ‘Give your best to whatever you do’
    but that wouldnt quite justify how I feel about life right now.

  2. onefilmbuff permalink
    June 28, 2009 11:38 am

    Have You ever heard of Quarter Life Crisis ??? read abt it if u haven’t …. a good post …keep it up.

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