There are some lessons that are taught to us in textbooks and by people we look up to. Others, we learn ourselves. Exploring one’s own experiences to the maximum depth possible is one of the ways to go about doing the latter. The other, just letting it hit you like a big yellow school bus that you just didn’t see coming...
There was nothing wrong being a single businesswoman at the age of 30 in her eyes. But try telling that to society, to her parents, to all the gossip-mongers for relatives of hers who constantly used her apparently pitiable situation to entertain themselves. Such was Indira’s life in her upper middle family in Calcutta. She had been treated like an adult from the time she was twelve and had announced that she wanted to take up some responsibility and teach English to the slum children in a nearby locality. She did proud her little family consisting of herself, her naughty, younger brother, Aman, and parents. Her father, a connoisseur of art, owned an art gallery in an upbeat part of the city, while her mother was a painter. The arty background gave her a lot of impetus to try her hand at creative fields while growing up. But no one thing could manage to sustain this average height, cropped haired woman’s interest, whose curves and dressing style always seemed to sustain the interest of at least two men at a time.
She was not a player but a charmer instead- a very sensible, witty and focused woman of today’s world. Men would ask for her number at parties, at the club where she would go swimming every day after work, and of course, at her work place. She was so well read that she could talk about anything under the Sun and make people listen to her keenly for a fairly long period of time, be it on books, music, wines, opinions on issues of the world, festivals...Her breed fascinated men and women alike, though the latter kind was often envious of her knowledge base and beauty.
She was like the wind, always moving and stopping only momentarily to linger over a certain place. That was the story of her life. She was constantly shifting, mentally, and physically as well in terms of her favourite haunts in the city. As a child, she had wanted to be a doctor, but the idea of 5 years of studying Medicine had seemed too boring. She thought of becoming a chef when she discovered that she enjoying sprinkling oregano into every dish being made in the kitchen and savouring it with a blend of ketchup, chilli sauce, and mustard. Disgust that showed on her parents’ faces who feigned a smile for her sake made her give up the idea. Art was not passed down her genes and she was terrible at drawing and painting, which even Aman surpassed at the age of eight when she was fifteen. But she was not afraid to fail and was always eager to try different things, to learn. A virtue now only possessed by a few.
This attitude of hers allowed her to give everything that she wanted to do a 100% shot and see for herself whether it was what she wanted to pursue or not. Her stint at journalism for the first few years of her life after college was successful, but the false portrayals and insensitivity shown to cover certain human interest stories made her leave it. She despised the corruption prevalent in the system, in society and though her family had the money, she lived off her own money, taking metros and autos to work rather than the car parked in the garage, gathering dust. She was glad that her family supported her in what she was doing. They had always been open-minded and let her follow her own dreams. When she decided to work in a company in their Corporate Social Responsibility Department so that she could channelize their ample resources into helping marginalised pockets of society, they were proud. When she helped Aman with his studies and projects and used her contacts to get him his first job, they thanked God for giving them sensible, diligent children.
The world may have seen her as a confused soul floating from one dream to another, but the ones who mattered to her knew her well enough to know that though she may come across as flippant, when she was into something, she put her heart and soul into it. Sadly, this had been the case in her relationships as well. In the past, the many lovers that she had taken and seen dreams with never stayed. She had shown ‘too much affection’, was ‘too level-headed’, or had just been ‘too good for him’. ‘Too’ being the key word here, she refrained. She knew herself as a person. She knew that she could not settle for somebody and would rather not look for her Knight in Shining Armour in the men she knew. She chose the path of solitude in this respect. She made conversation that intrigued many, she flirted with her eyes, she’d lead them on. But she never gave herself to any one person after a point. She stopped herself, curbed the natural flow of feelings, became ‘abnormal’ in peoples’ perspectives, and just didn’t care, or at least convinced herself that she didn’t.
In such a world where living was more than just about earning money and making babies, she wanted to experience life, in the rawest form that it had to show-in all its colours, in its paradoxes that one lives out, in all its negativities thrown at you, in all its glory...
It’s that one moment in that ‘big bad world out there’ that can change one’s whole life, whether it’s the moment you feel you have met the man of your life after a five-hour long chat in a dull party that suddenly had a whole different frequency to it, or the time when a stranger gropes you in a public place and you are rendered too helpless and shocked to do anything. Whether an experience leaves you feeling good, bad, or ugly, it was an experience that YOU, as an individual, had, and try as one may, it is amazingly hard to forget it. This is especially true of the bad ones.
She had had her share of empty days where she would walk on lone streets in the evening at a quick pace with her IPod plugged in and Apocalyptica’s I Don’t Care blaring. There were others when she would go hysterical laughing because she’d find dirty meanings to everything people were saying. That was the kind of girl she was. The kind of girl she let the world see.
There was a lot more to her though. A side of her that she was scared to face herself, which she dreaded to accept as real. A weak girl who would cry in her bedroom that she locked herself into after telling her parents that she was too tired after a hard day at work and wanted to go to her room and just crash.
A candle was lit, a Marlboro put to the lips and the match stick struck the box. She’d just hold the first match stick after it was lit, and watch it intensely as it burnt till the end. She’d throw it away right before it burnt her finger. The next one lit the cigarette and the lips would curl into a subtle smile, revealing the pleasure that it gave her. The Play button would be pressed on the remote to her CD player and the room would be filled with Dylan’s Hard Rain, Roadhouse Blues by The Doors, P.O.D’s Youth Of The Nation, or perhaps The Beatles’ Baby You’re A Rich Man on repeat. She’d lie down and stare at her high ceiling that gave her space for thought. Sometimes, in this mood, she’d pen down a poem in her diary that she kept hidden in her lingerie drawer that the maid never touched. Sometimes, she’d strip in her room, stand in front of her mirror and look at herself. Tears would often find a place for themselves and she’d wash them away by standing under the shower, believing that the hot water would cleanse her soul. Or she’d just let a glass of whiskey on the rocks aid the ‘cleansing process’...
This woman had a story to tell but she never did. Her own story, people only knew in bits. She never let herself get close enough to anyone to tell them her innermost desires and secrets that each one of us needs to tell somebody in their life. She’d know stories about Princess Diana and about the chaiwalla who used to sit under her office building. But no one knew her story. No one even bothered asking, thinking that it would be too confusing anyway, given the number of things she had experimented with in life to try and find her one passion.
No one would understand that she was not one to settle for one passion in life but had many, at different times in her life. Cooking as a child, Writing in class 12 when she had her first boyfriend and wanted to record their ‘moments’ ten years down the line, Weed in college days, Gambling when she dated the risk-taking, crazy twenty-four year old who had no direction but a zeal for life, Seduction in the mid twenties.
But she had the one passion that a lot of people missed out on because they were too worried about what people would say and about consequences-a passion for Life. In this busy world where people can’t even find the time to stop and appreciate a good deed done, Nature’s beauty, or even your own child’s effort at painting, that’s the best sort of passion to have.