Tag Archives: nostalgia

COME AS YOU ARE

Picture Credits: Hardik Batra

Welcome to my standard night at ISB. It’s 4am and it’s both late night and early morning. I can hear the Gurbani playing in the east as Calvin Harris slowly morphs into Nucleya to the west of my room. Outside in the living room, people are discussing public policy in rural India over a game of Monopoly, and as I look out of my window I see a rabbit hop towards the wood heated from last night’s bonfire. It gets too close and immediately backs away, hopping once again into the darkness. None of us gets a how-to guide, you see? Everybody’s just somewhat winging it.

The wine is over and the temperature is at it’s lowest for the day, so we bring out the rum. The Monopoly has begun to disturb friendships, so we bring out the rum. We’re out of ideas and the paper is due in two hours, so we bring out the rum. A little liquid courage never hurt anyone, so we bring out the rum. Only to wake up the next morning, thirsty, exhausted, drowsy – yet somehow more accomplished, dearer, warmer.

I won’t lie, it’s been an especially gruelling year – but that’s what we came here for in the first place, isn’t it? A year that would ideally have taken two. Not just in what we learn and experience but also physically, mentally, emotionally. Some days we surprise ourselves and own it – the classes, the assignments, the study groups and the networking, still somehow managing to spend quality time with the ones who matter. And yet, some days, we leave our spectacles in the refrigerator.

That’s the beauty of life at this pace. Ever so often it reminds you that you’re still human. Allow yourself a breath – a wasted day, a missed deadline, a failed interview. And then get back up, immediately. That’s what we came here for in the first place, isn’t it?
A year that would ideally have taken more time.

And now with graduation day almost in sight, I try to think of all the ways to tell people all the things I wish I’d known when I began my year here, most of which have to do with emotional stability. That even as you start out, you will meet people who see the same stars as you do. They will inspire you, overwhelm you, bring out the best and worst in you and slowly become a part of you.

But people, as people do, change. Sometimes you just outgrow the ones you started out with, for you mature with experiences, not with years. All of a sudden you’ll be looking at the same stars, seeing different constellations. And nobody is better or worse for it, we just make our own momentum as we go from bone crushing hugs to firm handshakes.

And then there’s the ones you find and keep – different momentums, different starting points and all that jazz. But the same escape velocity. They come out of nowhere and as they do, you realise that for this one year, you’re always one decision away from a parallel universe. And for that one reason, this year is the beginning of anything you want.

I wish we could have bottled this year, like a perfume. Breathed in a little every time life got dreary or uninspiring.

But we can’t, so we bring out the rum.

Something to Forget Me By

Why was it that during the first ice-breaker in college, when the whole class had to go stand up and say their name and where they were from, I got so incredibly nervous? Like, I know my name, I know where I’m from; this shouldn’t be a problem.

Maybe it’s the pressure of first impressions that society’s created on us now terrified mortals. That’s probably why my best friends on campus include a girl I hated for the whole of my first semester just because she gave me the heebie jeebies and a boy with whom my first interaction included him running after a mini-football on the Bogmalo Beach shouting “Hey! Easy! Mommy told me not to get my ball wet!”

There was a time I’d complain about the freeze-dried fruit distribution in my Gelato. Now the post Sunday lunch Mother Dairy butterscotch ice cream makes me feel sexy. Like I’m eating a soft spoonful of an affair. With crunchies.

But time moves on and so does life and the fat get thin and the thin get fat and group dynamics change and re-change because nobody really likes fat people, and at the end of four years you’re left wondering how you ever got along without these people who are now more family than family itself.

And yet, forever’s not what it used to be.

He’ll finally get out there and become a standup comedian, flying for a show to Russia, flying business class, in fact, because that’s just how he rolls now. She’ll probably be the CEO of some company that you always thought was a bank’s name.
And you’ll read about them in the papers and wonder if you should call. But instead you’ll just post something on their Facebook wall and get on with your life. Damn shame.

And yet, they’ll be a part of you. In their own small way. Even the random people you interact with everyday. You might not remember their name or face ten years from now. But you’ll remember them as the person who introduced you to your now favorite music, or the guy who helped you pass that godforsaken subject, or the girl who saw you crying and said “If someone breaks your heart, just punch them in the face. Seriously just punch them in the face and go get some ice cream”.  Even if she was just quoting Wiz Khalifa.

And suddenly, after your college years, you’re not the same person anymore. You like sleeping because it’s like being dead, only without the commitment. You aren’t ‘weirded out’ by alcoholics and junkies because you realize they’re just humans with a different passion than yours. And you realize fat people are the nicest of them all.

In French, you don’t really say “I miss you”. You say “tu me manques” which, I am told, is closer to “you are missing from me”. I love that. It’s beautiful, really. Like you’re a part of me that I’m currently functioning without. I’ll miss everyone I leave behind. And when I do, I hope there’s a part of me in them. Something I left behind. Something to forget me by.

Maybe I’m a Dark Star

“To know one’s own state is not a simple matter. One cannot look directly at one’s own face with one’s own eyes, for example. One has no choice but to look at one’s reflection in the mirror. Through experience, we come to believe that the image is correct, but that is all.”
― Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

I met all kinds of people this year; each one kind of left a bit of themselves behind. And the world that I’d created for myself, with my own ideas of black and white and acceptable grays, ultimately came crashing down. Things changed in the last one year. It’s funny how you realize you’ve changed by small simple things. A song doesn’t make you feel the way it used to. A fragrance doesn’t stir what it used to inside of you. One passive sense at a time, you realize, you’re a different person.

It gets harder every day; accepting that you kind of forgot color exists. People can be blue all their life, and for a fraction of a second they come in contact with someone yellow, and suddenly, just like that, they’re green. It’s nobody’s fault really, it’s a pigment thing. But that’s how long it takes for someone to change you. One look, one smile, one interaction; we’re all dynamic, ever changing. It scares me sometimes, how much I let people affect me.

And I can’t go back to yesterday, because I was a different person then. I believed in true love, I really did. I’m not so sure anymore. People seem to be living out of convenience more than anything else. I can’t love you because you’re too young, too old, too far away, and too inconvenient to love.

Oh, but I can. If only you’d let me.

So many people.  So many nonentities that now constitute my world. So many times I tried to keep myself to myself. So many cages put up and torn down. To what avail?
At the end of the day, we’re all just people, trying in ways we know how. The trouble is that we’re almost always on a different page. Haven’t you realized how your idea of a happy ending changes as you progress through a book? One can’t sit on page 7 thinking of all the hidden opportunities, new characters and plot twists that lay ahead and still hope for love to catch up.
It’s not something that catches up with you.
It sneaks into your life when you’re least expecting it, at the most inconvenient of times, and it makes you question things. And while you’re still contemplating and wondering, it begins to run away. And then it’s up to you to catch up with it.

But opportunity is an ill-mannered guest. And life goes faster than it comes to you.

I think I may have let it go once. I may have thought about it too long, and it may have slipped out from right between my fingers. I think that was the day I became a little evasive. I met a lot of broken people after that. We had chemistry, we had space and we had the capacity to love. And then I felt terrified because I realized that once people are broken in particular ways, they can never go back, and this is something no one ever tells you early enough and it never fails to astonish you to see people in your life break one by one. You wonder when it’s going to be your turn, or if it’s already happened.

Is that why it’s not working this time? Have I forgotten how to love right? Maybe I love differently because I’m a different person now. Maybe I love differently because even though that song doesn’t make me feel the way it did, I found another song that does.

And you can’t hear it, because it’s on the inconvenient end of your playlist.