Tuesday, August 14, 2007

More Than a Lot

"The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same."

Tonight I Can Write, Pablo Neruda. (0)

(This post comes with a background score. Just push play and read on)

I really don’t think I can live alone. Whether I live with people in the real world, or peep into their lives through books, newspapers, movies, music; they are indispensable. Fortunately, perhaps, I cannot watch TV.

For the last fifteen years or so, I have been living on my own, with infrequent company. My family, I spend a sum total of two weeks, over the course of the calendar year. So that’s not much.

Under such circumstances, it is natural for one to develop ties, albeit by accident, elsewhere, and remarkably one finds that such ties… are capable of such joys, and remorse.

Biological ties, I guess, stay, despite distance, or time, despite your actions (within certain tolerances), or inaction. The Other wither away, mostly as a consequence of the same.

And before They wither away, mostly the going is good.

At times like this, Time steps in, fills spaces, brings comfort, the comfort of familiarity. Of waking up next to someone warm. Of coming home- sometimes to an ear-to-ear grin, sometimes a frown. Of long conversations and shared silences. Tastes, and more importantly, shared distastes. Of unconditional discretion (1) conveyed through understanding nods. And sometimes, through scathing criticisms.

It is only much later, that it is confessed, that that advice was given without always understanding everything. In the knowledge that once the frustration had passed, I would know exactly what to do, and how best to do it.

All criticisms, however mild, were well considered.

Finally perhaps, the comfort of a shared conscience. (Once you get there, together you have basically made a trip to a place from where there is nowhere to go- in a pleasant sort of way.)

Later, Time… that bitch is gone. There is so little left of it, and then I am running, running to stash in every possible experience. And then suddenly it is over. (2)

“Time is the enemy of lovers, the thief that robs them of precious moments together. The foe that raises doubts and questions.”

There is this Space. With only one thing left to say: “I wish I had seen this coming, or I wish I had done that, or I wish…” And way too late in the day, I realize that the one wish I was granted with is this gift of friendship.

However, looking back, there were no missed steps, nothing that could’ve been done any differently. If things were conducted a little by design, it would hardly have been this perfect.

On a particularly wet morning, passing through Mahim on my way to work I see people scurrying for cover- in the melee there is this handicapped man, on the contraption they drive themselves around, and seated next to him is a child, in a raincoat and a school bag. They seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. The child clapping his hands, the man laughing out loud, while the world gets drenched to the bone around them.

Then, one particularly bacchanalian night, I walk back home, and there is a little more than a mild drizzle, and I am carefully evading puddles. It is an hour or two past midnight. There is a solitary tarpaulin hutment, next to a stinky garbage dump, huddled inside a family of about 8. They are eating out of a paper bag, and from the look on their faces, one would think that they are looking out from the verandah of their beach front property in Goa, fascinated by the rains, and eating the best food in the world.

Probably I read too much into all this, but know what, these sights mean more than a bit to me.

Fondness, I guess, dwells in the unlikeliest of habitats, weathering the worst storms. Togetherness, it seems, makes up for quite a bit.

There is a person at work who recently moved to a desk on my left. We call him Mr. Reality Check. He is my batch business school, got married between graduating and joining the first job, the same time during which I was tripping on Kovalam beach. He has a house, and a school going kid. He has decent savings, and the house is worth three times his investment. He showed me a spreadsheet which he uses to track multiple household bills. All these disclosures in a matter of a week or so. He asks me why I am not married, and what savings I have, and what I do with all my money.

While such people are usually the butt of my ridicule all the time, I do realize that I am pissing away my money, and chasing off anyone who has ever loved me. That as I am growing old busy having a good time or fighting those imaginary demons in my head, slowly things are being taken away from me. And that I won’t realize what’s gone for quite a few years.

I wonder what will it take, for a person like me to embrace such a life. I, who can write a thousand word post on relationships, can advocate love, why is it so difficult to be able to hold on. To get beyond relationships, love and affection which comes with a Use By date to begin with.

I have been told that in writing, and in life in general, I have a problem with closure, with endings. So I will leave this now, with this reliable borrowed expression.

For Chivo:

Because, we are also what we lose.

Amores Perros


0. I know this has been quoted recently, but it is somehow apt for the moment.
1. Indra Nooyi:

You know, people like us get very lonely, because you cannot share too much with other people. So you come home and he is there and you can discuss anything with him and he gives you sound advice.
2. Woody Allen:
There's an old joke - um... two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions." Well, that's essentially how I feel about life - full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it's all over much too quickly.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful post...

Searcher said...

"Things are being taken from me...I won’t realize what’s gone for quite a few years..."
And that's the bottomline fear i guess for so many of us - the fear that keeps us holding on to people, the fear of loss, etc. I also read your "Thinking about the M word" post... And here's what i think - so long as you're thinking about it, fine-tuning what you want, adding in the details... you're that much closer to getting it. And that's a good thing, right?

The One said...

Anon: Thanks! Don't you just love the background score???
Searcher: I am surprised you came across a post which was written over a year and a half ago. So you know things haven't changed, much over that period of time. Anyway, for me its not fear, its just a silent resignation. Sometimes, I wish I did fear loss, as much as most people do. Getting what? Getting what?

Searcher said...

Getting what you want, TO. And what you want is something you'll have to figure out for yourself. The scary part is admitting that you have no clue what you want and hence can't drive your life towards attaining it, or knowing what you want and realising that you don't have it in you to get it. The fun part - reaching for it anyway.