We met after a really long time and were chatting about our college mates. When the last memory you have of someone is over 20 years ago, it’s hard to imagine their present day situations. Seems some of our friends had divorced and remarried. While some were undergoing treatment for depression. There were some really astounding success stories and many had bitter experiences in their personal life. I was basically lost after the “half way mark” comment by my friend. Suddenly the difference between being old and feeling old struck hard and it really hit its mark. All of a sudden there was a nervous rush of all those things that I wanted to do and still haven’t even started. The moment you realize how little time you have left, every second seems to rush by even faster. Was feeling giddy for a while with so many thoughts that everything became a blur.
It’s not an earth shattering revelation or a profound thought, but it set a lot of things in perspective. The first thing that struck me was, how I want to be remembered. To be honest, I am that kind of person who is more comfortable, being hidden in plain sight. Yet another face in the crowd. Like, E pluribus Unum, out of many – one. Hadn’t really thought on creating legacy, leave alone a will!!! I always went with the tide and never felt any particular delight in fighting against it, choosing the easier of the options. It took a really long walk back home to clear my mind. Incidentally, the cab ride that I had taken, dropped me on a different route back home and it went through those streets where I had grown up as kid. Even though I have been living across four streets in past 3 decades, very rarely I take that route or visit those streets. Not a single house was how it was back then and every one of them had undergone renovation or been rebuilt. The narrow lane house where I was in my kindergarten, had another row house bang opposite to it, where some of my primary school mates were living. The entire setup had now become a whole apartment complex. The LIC agent who used to pester everyone for policy had a green colored house that was no longer green and was more of grey. Probably the house ran out of insurance or he ran out of the house. Either way, looked like it was up next for demolition and might soon be seen as a Sale ad in local paper.
The Naadaar kadai, provision store, had become a departmental store. My dad used to carry me to that shop as kid and he would be giving me packets of dry fruits to eat whenever I visited. The adjacent clinic, belonging to our family physician, remained the same with a new color coating and a compounder. Bang opposite to the clinic used to be a flour mill belonging to my school mate, who died in a bike accident even before he could finish graduation. The 5X5 petty shop had given way for a spacious stationery shop. Once, while coming back from tuition, I found a bundle of currency notes lying on the road and I had put the entire note on a nearby temple hundi. Though my mom scolded me for even touching something lying on the road, that didn’t belong to me, and was worried that someone might come and claim it from us, she was secretly proud that I didn’t take the money. Even that temple was undergoing rampant renovation. All of a sudden, it seemed everything had changed around me and all those changes happening right in front of me, without even me realizing. When I reached home, after quite a nostalgic walk, the moment my kid saw me, he shouted “appa” and came running. I never realized when I got used to being addressed as “appa”. Not sure about other “first time dad”s, but for long I never quite got accustomed to being called like that, for the word always meant my dad to me. With him not around, it still meant him. And being addressed by the same “role” as him, was scary to be honest for the responsibilities it carried along with it.
But it’s not scary anymore and I’ve gone to relish being called like that. In fact, at times I long for it, when he continues chant for his mom to attend his beck and call. Slowly the changes that I saw seemed to merge into a known pattern of what was happening inside my house, my own life and the fear slowly faded away. That familiar sense of rocking tide of time, that sways me often, yet carry me on its journey came crawling back and filled the void of nothingness with a small thing called hope. The clock might always be ticking but rather than watching it tick to oblivion, there are better sights still available and when they take such cute shapes, doting on you to play with them and make them laugh and smile..to quote a movie dialogue, not sure if courage came in but fear did move out.