It’s February. My co-bloggers have already dissected the year gone by and enlisted their achievements of the year previous and resolutions of the New Year. I am lagging behind as usual.
It’s funny the way we look forward to another year. It’s just another day, isn’t it? However, from the dawn of seeking, mankind has tried, in vain, to measure time in seconds, minutes, hours, days, nights, weeks, months and years. Time’s linearity is debatable. It’s easy to assume the circularity of motion. Seasons come and go, so do day and night. The contrarian query whether history repeats or does not repeat itself have perpetuated and inveigled human quests to baffling proportions. Notwithstanding, we mortals have defended our illusion by scanning the calendar for a hopeful beginning and a quick end to miseries.
Truth is as evasive as Time. What we know today is not what we have not learnt before. The mirror with a thin spread of dust over it does not forget to capture an image. We just have to wipe it clean to witness a sparkling vision. Perhaps it is the only way to compulsive learning that hurdles be mounted and the travel made deliberately exhausting. Each step we take is towards horizon unlimited subject to our unwavering will to move forward. 2015 gave an impetus to that will and wishes were fulfilled on their own. Perhaps a few remained undone too. But let’s not dwell on the vagaries of life and laugh it away as long as we are comfortable with what we have in hand overlooking the remnants that have gone with the wind.
Mid-April – a short trip to Kolkata. After twelve long years and harrowing seven days I was too homesick to extend my stay. But irctc refused to comply. With a waitlisted ticket in hand I ran from pillar to post imploring for a berth in the train impatient to leave the station. The TT was most kind, “Not a single seat available ma’am. Yours is an online booking which cannot be confirmed against last minute cancellation.” My brother-in-law had advised me to go back and try for the day next. I was adamant. Not one day more in this godforsaken city.
The imposing red bus had just ambled in. I vaguely remembered seeing it while de-boarding the train a week ago – from Howrah Junction to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport. A flare of a spark and I had hopped in with my luggage toed along my side.
To the Airport…..a little more than an hour’s time it would take. If I were lucky it would going to be my maiden air journey alone…on my own – an experience I dreaded and dodged. In brief, altitudes made me sick, airports scared the hell out of me, luggage could so easily be missed rolling down the conveyer belt and I could always bank upon myself to get into the wrong flight and land up in New Found Land!!!
Evening had spread its wings when the bus cruised into the Terminus. “You have to walk the last leg…” the Bus Conductor was off-handish. I wheeled in me and my baggage to the ticket counter following sign-posts and a few considerate directions later.
“It’s the last flight. You’ve little time in hand.” Could the counter boy read my inner phobia? It didn’t matter. What did was to reach home safe. I let my wheeler bag be checked in thanking Providence for that thin red strip tied around its body – a marker for easy spotting on the belt! God was with me…
Yes! He was… as I left the check-in counter clutching my boarding pass a tall, dark and graceful figure at the adjacent window caught my attention. Was I dreaming? It was S, wasn’t it? My long lost childhood mate whom I had been frantically trying to trace amidst the urban jungle of one Metro and the other, in vain, was now standing right in front of me. A bear hug…volley of questions and a promise to catch up soon upon reaching destination…Airports were not such bad places, after all!!
Two and a half hours later as the wheels touched the tarmac I was surprised to note that the flight was not as scary as I had always thought it was, my head was not reeling as much as I knew it would and checking out the luggage off the conveyor belt was not as bothersome as it could get in my imagination.
The starry night glittered overhead. The cars honked past merrily. Crossing over to my hatch back a sudden realization jerked me off balance. I had, without my knowing, left behind a shoulder bag at the Airport. But I couldn’t care less. There was personal stuff in it which I was happy to give up – my age-old inhibitions! And what I carried out with me was more valuable – a stronger, lighter and freer me!!
His incessant nagging irritated me to the extent that I was ready to jump out of the car or push him out of it anytime. He was as unmoved as the headmaster would be with an errant child. I said I did not wish to travel with him.
“Please take the car back home.”
“How will you go to office?”
“That’s my problem…”
He was cheeky enough to ring up home and inform the patriarch, “Chhoti madam says to take the car back home. What do I do?”
A series of instructions and exasperation preceded the change of direction. He was as temperamental as I was stubborn. The car took a sudden swerve and he was out, “Okay! Take the car back home. Am off duty.”
I stepped in on the driver’s seat in a huff. The bugger had taken the car keys with him. I had a pair in my bag. Inserting the same I revved up the engine. Pressing the clutch I shifted to first gear and pushed the accelerator softly while simultaneously stepping off the clutch. The car smoothly came into motion. A few rolls and again a repeat performance. This time the gear shifted to the second position….soon after the third and then the fourth. No, I could read the signals well. No other car seemed to nudge me out of my space on the road. The machine did not misbehave under hesitant command of a novice. And my knees did not crumble under the pressure of managing a vehicle on the over-crowded roads of the city. It was almost a twenty five minutes eventless glide.
As I pulled over inside the block, the chipmunk with a broad, triumphant grin confronted me with a “See! I made you do it.” I could have happily punched hard on his bulbous nose but I refrained as the innate truth of his words hit me. I had done it. An almost half an hour’s solo drive on the congested road of the Capital during peak hour. Incredible!!
I stared at the unfeeling eyes of the bureaucrats pinned on me. A sudden constriction down my throat made it hard to swallow. As I faced the Board Room I had a sudden desire to take off without uttering another word. Public speaking was not my forte. But I had promised my Head of the Department that I would take care of the entire show just before the meeting had commenced. Uptil then the regular monthly meetings had been basically a one-man show – my boss, now on transfer to another location, used to singlehandedly take care of convincing the hierarchy of our unflinching dedication to manualized policy. The fresh crop that had taken over was still not completely inducted into the fray. So, it was I, the continuity factor, who had to ensure that the show went on without a glitch.
I could hear a strange voice droning out statistical figures as though mugged up by heart punctuated by paraphrases substantiating factual data. Was it me? The presentation was over in no time and so were my jitters! By the end of the session, a tongue-tied presenter was swept over by a strange conviction that the next time would not be so formidable and unnerving!!
The trick of the trade is not to be intimidated by the surroundings. I do not recall who had said it but the irrefutability of the mantra is unquestionable. “FEAR,” says Swamy Sukhbodhanandaji, “Is Fantasized Experiences Appearing Real.” Throughout our lives, we operate out of fear. Throughout our lives, it is this fear that we fight against consciously or subconsciously. And the winner is he/she who overcomes it in the long run. It is not an overnight journey. Perhaps, this is what we call growing up not in the literal but in the true sense. It is this inner war that rages till the last breath of our lives. But I suppose this is what keeps us going too.
2015 has been a milestone year of my life in many, many ways than one. Triumph over one’s own self is just a partial achievement. There are many more fears which may stalk us in bends and turns of life unseen. There are many more fears which lurk in the deepest recesses of the mind to be uncovered and challenged with grit. There are many more fears which remain to be won over in gradual progression. The years to come will see continuity of a never ending battle of wit and will. 2015 had just flagged off the hurdle race. And therein lies its significance. It had begun the beginning. Rest will automatically follow suit.
That was my 2015 in nutshell. Am sure there are many more who will have greater tales of dauntlessness to recount. Am eager to hear them out. So are you, aren’t you?
However, this is not where I put a full stop. Victories and achievements, resolves and decisions are outcomes of inner confrontations. However, the process of learning is incomplete if we negate or neglect the external influences and inspirations – of friends who touch hearts and kindle the inquisitive in you, who teach you to be truthful and face your own self, who lead you to newer paths and sometimes leave you on crossroads never to return again…of promises broken and dreams shattered, of renewed enthuse and discarded ennui.
Perhaps someday I shall weave another tale of laughter and loneliness…After all how can a year be only of gainful experiences and not of irretrievable loss and abysmal pain, the rudiments of learning and unlearning. Surely, we must talk of them too, mustn’t we?
Yes, I may, someday….. but now for the time being..