These Paths…. (4)

Time stopped and I found myself settling into a pace that was unusually slow. It was a strange feeling initially- a feeling that something wasn’t right. I was so conditioned to the fast pace of city life, with its tone of urgency that I felt I was out of phase with the flow of life. I felt I had been deported from the mainstream of life into a place which was somehow not real. I couldn’t place it in the scheme of my life. I was unable to define my goals. I could only see that phase as a temporary phase of life.

A transit, following which I would get back to where I belonged...

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Perhaps this feeling of impermanence was responsible for the silence I felt in my mind. I absorbed my environment with a certain lack of resistance, a certain lack of objective.

I absorbed it for what it was, without coloring it with prejudice. I had no intentions of transforming it.

I had no expectations of it. And so, I learnt more than what I would have learnt otherwise.

I remember gradually losing touch with all my friends. I felt at a loss of words when I talked to them on the phone. For we were no longer on the same page. They talked about the continuum of a life I had known all along, while I listened in mute silence.

It got to a point where the conversations just faded away.

There was my friend Madan, who was witness to most of my life in London, especially the part where I had started exploring the world in the true spirit of a traveller. He was deeply sympathetic towards the unexpected turn my life had taken. My first birthday after I moved to Kerala, he sent me a postcard from New York (he was travelling). It was the skyline of New York city-an array of black and white buildings, and he wrote beneath it:

‘This is how I see this city without you!  – Colorless’

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I was touched and I was miserable. Madan was my best friend and my travel companion. I loved travelling with him because he never came between me and my perceptions. He was there, absorbing with a quiet smile my love for places and people, and I had never met anybody like that. At other times, he would tell me about places he had visited, and I would listen with excitement, for he knew what I liked to hear. Our conversations were always beyond the confines of the tiny world in which we lived; he always made me feel part of a large world. On some evenings, we would walk across Hungerford bridge, and he would discuss his dreams for the future. I would watch the reflections of a million lights on the river beneath, and see in them the brilliance and sheen of the dreams we dreamt. Madan was a friend- my best friend. We were not into a romantic relationship, but I could not imagine life without his presence in my life. I never did.

I was like a child, for the thought that he may fade away from my life never once occurred to me.

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With his postcard, there were 3 cards of different sizes, and a coffee mug. All of it had arrived in the post and it made me very nostalgic towards the life I had left behind. Just as I started to adapt to my new life in Kerala, a subtle reminder of my old life would send me into a state of intense denial. It would then take me days to get back to my new life. I started withdrawing from reminders of the past, and pulled myself more intensely into my present. And so, I gradually lost touch with Madan who was also going through his own share of problems. Nevertheless, I can never forget the day he came to visit me in Kerala, when a deep tragedy had befallen me. He was travelling to Dubai on work, and he just took a flight to India and spent time with me. Madan was like that- a man of few words, but his gestures spoke of the kind of love he was capable of. He was a self-made man, and hardships had formed him.

He understood hardships way better than people his age could.

In the early days of my life in Kerala, I would always carry my i-pod with me. It was my means of detachment from the people here. I dreaded their curiosity, their questions…especially at a time when my own head was swarming with questions that I couldn’t find answers to. The i-pod was Madan’s gift to me, just before I left London for good. I remember the day we were packing all my stuff into cartons. He hadn’t said a word about shopping for it. Someone rang the bell, and I was surprised to find an i-pod delivered to my address. Bewildered, I turned around to see Madan smiling. He had bought it for me online, and taken me by surprise. Ironically, the i-pod evoked more questions than the other things about me, here in God’s own country. Strangers in the bus would ask me what this gadget was, and I was miserable at this intrusion into my personal space.

Now, the memory makes me laugh!

I terribly missed my evenings with Madan at Canary Wharf. It was my favourite place in London. The newer part of London, with beautifully lit-up parks and Japanese bridges and canals and fountains and skyscrapers, it somehow radiated optimism and happiness. The ice rink there was my favourite. I would literally jump with the exhilaration of freedom that I felt there.

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One afternoon in Kerala, I received yet another post- a stack of newspapers that advertised apartments in Canary Wharf , a magazine on the place and a stack of pictures of my favourite places at Canary Wharf.

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And thus, days became weeks…weeks turned into months. The past, present and future played games in my confused mind, until gradually, the past was laid to rest.

I had taken the turn…

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5 thoughts on “These Paths…. (4)

    1. The transition was tough for someone like me, who had never been exposed to the real hardships in life. But in retrospect, I am immensely grateful to that phase. It reconstituted me and connected me to the happiness and suffering of a universe.

    1. Uday, I am randomly penning down my memories, as and when they come. Like a friend of mine used to say, the one book that each one of us must write is an autobiography. We owe it to life- a tribute for all that it has given us. And so, I am just immortalizing whatever is still accessible in my mind 🙂

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