There are occasions when you realize that the past is a quandary, and the future is a dream. In the moments of the present, you tend to gather yourself. These are times when you wish that the present becomes a point where the past fades away and the future takes over. You think of the present then as an inflection point in a mathematical curve, but alas you realize that life is more complicated than mathematical equations. Shades of grey or bright colors of the rainbow, the choice is not always as discrete as this. There are countless colors in between, and you meander, and you may say aimlessly sometimes, between the ends of the spectrum. You are the essence of what you think you would like to be, and often you become what others would like to see you as. That is when you rely more on the perception of others about you than the more easy approach of an uncommon amount of common sense.
That night it rained. The rain that has the magical ability to harness the quality of your emotions. The tumultuous downpour! Nature with an insignia and an inevitable prowess, a force so powerful, oh so very powerful indeed! And then you so wish that the waters from the abodes above purged your soul, erased every painful experience from your mind. Sometimes human beings forget that the realms of the apparent senses are finite, and there is only just so much that you can do. It was an evening in July, and the year was 2009. Monsoon was active and much awaited! Neha was sitting on a chair near the window of her room. It was dark, it seemed darker than usual because of the rain. Nature has this amazing quality of influencing our psyche. The streets were active, people returning from office, some even spending hours in the slow moving traffic to reach home. Traffic does slow down when it rains. Sometimes there is water logging adding to the whole experience of a day at work! The scene was vibrant, of a city pulsating with people, with a certain energy known characteristically to this city. Life was on! This was a melting pot of cultures, where daily doses of the conversation provided the stable adrenalin to the masses. This was where the culture was intellectual, almost in the veins of the populace, and it worked well in making the place a powerhouse of rich cultural diversity. Neha had had tea made by herself a few minutes back. Tea is normally an experience in itself, as it has the quality of rejuvenating you. The rain made this rushing sound, sometimes appearing to take out its wrath on something, no one would know, frankly few even cared. Neha looked at the scene outside her window. Controlled chaos, she thought to herself. What else could this be? Or maybe a rehearsed song and dance sequence, but the song was too noisy and the dance to mechanical, almost devoid of grace. She was a girl of 23 years, having completed her graduation a couple of years back. Eight semesters of hard work, of having to listen to lectures, make notes, memorize them, and then reproduce them on paper. How well or maybe to what extent they got reproduced on paper made a direct impact on how much she scored. Neha was an organized girl. She never had lofty ambitions, all the same she understood her role in the four years of engineering with responsibility. Her friends at college thought she was devoid of the wanton years of youth, the time in life when every aspect of life is colorful. Sometimes you get matured in your outlook earlier than the rest of the lot! Phew! What is does to you is good, no doubt, then again, this is like a one-way street, you cannot reverse it. No matter how hard you try, you cannot start acting and behaving like a teenager after you have become somber and matured ahead of the curve. Niche segment – should we say! Well if you must, then it is a niche segment, a minuscule lot of the people who – in others' view – are ‘different’! Neha did well in her engineering, even landed up a good job through campus placement season. Oh boy, were her parents proud! Well, you bet they were. 2009 was a year which had technology taking over our lives. Power cuts, though rare, had then ‘antidote’ in terms of generators. But today was different. Why? Fury of the rain….maybe this would be the opinion of the ‘niche segment’ of the populace. The real reason was that kerosene needed to power the generators was in short supply in the market during the power cut. Neha had the company of the mosquitoes. And many of them together. Summer is not the time you could easily close your windows, as it was far too humid. Neha glanced in the shadows below her window. Everyone was busy, are people really busy when they say they are. No one could be busy all the time, certainly not. Maybe it was a polite way of avoiding people. Neha was still in her work clothes. A smart white top and a black pair of trousers. She had shoulder length hair, not wavy, but reasonably straight and black. She did not care for too much makeup. She was fair, and when she dressed up well, she looked pretty. At 5 feet she was not very tall for a girl in this part of the world. But she had this ability to carry herself off well which worked in her favor. She was slim, and that did not make her look short. Neha was waiting for the power to come back on, to then change and prepare dinner. Or maybe order a pizza, she thought. Pizza would go well in the rain. But she must not gorge on too much junk food; she seemed to be over cautious about her health. But today the heavens had burst asunder. Rain did not seem to abate, nor did the power come on. Amidst this contemplation she heard some more sounds, these did not seem to fit in the sequence. For a while, Neha did not realize that this was the knock on her door. When she did, she went ahead to answer the call. She asked who it was to be sure, without the need for her to open the door the security guard told her what he wanted to convey. The power cut would last longer, and maybe until morning, there was also a slim chance of the generator working. So it was best to store up some water since the pump had no chance to run until morning. For Neha, this was a shift from her carefree thought inducing romance by the window to real action. She got to work immediately. She had kept spare candles stacked up in the drawer of her table; she also managed to find a light. She kept one candle in the room and the other in the bathroom. Hers was a small flat, in the parlance of the modern world, this was called 1 BHK. It had a small living room, a decent bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom. Sometimes she thought it would have made more sense to also have a small balcony. She did not know what was on in the minds of the builders when they must have made this building. Anyway, she had a small nest for herself, and this made her happy. She did find a couple of large buckets and stored up water. It was hot and humid in July and without the power the heat was even more oppressive. The candlelight reflected on the mirror made grotesque shapes in the dark. Desires and fulfillment have a yawning gap. There was still running water in the shower; this was good. After a shower, she got into comfortable clothing. No sooner had she done that than she started feeling hungry. PIZZA, she thought, the instant delivery meal had taken over conventional meal preparation. But today it had a cause too. Cannot do too much in the dark, right?. She did not let her thoughts wander further and in the dark groped for the phone. Her mobile had enough battery. It was not the flashy kind, some of her friends advised her against buying a mobile low on add-on and high on functionality and battery simply because it was not ‘cool’ to flaunt. But she had a mind of her own, ‘niche segment’ should we say. She purchased a set which was above most other things a solid phone with a long battery life. She hated looking to chargers when she ran out of battery. This phone was good, a full charge lasts a few days. Today was no different. She called up the pizza store and ordered the one she liked. But the flip side was that today because of the heavy rush (blame it on the weather and power cut), they said it would take longer than usual. She accepted and waited. It was best to go back beside the window. Now she felt better than before. Her clothes were lighter, she had just had a shower, and the rain seemed to have slowed down. City noises when heard say by someone used to living in a village would be pure noise. But for someone living in a city bursting at the seams, these noises get ingrained in your psyche. For good, and to an extent that when they quieten, you tend to feel uneasy. She must have either dozed off or have become absorbed in the city sounds to an extent that she did not hear the knock again. Her mobile rang, it was the delivery boy calling from outside her house. She opened the door, apologized, and accepted the pizza, quickly gave him cash, and in the process a heavy tip. The boy smiled, a large happy smile and she closed the door. She ate with interspersed sips of cola and wondered what life would be without these instant bites. The phone rang, she picked it up, and someone was offering her a free credit card, with a host of other freebies. She liked the voice of the man at the other end, and this was probably the only reason she chose not to hang up with a stern ‘no’. And the agent thought all this while that she was genuinely interested in the credit card. After a while, she politely told him no. Nice voice she thought! Maybe a handsome man at the other end, she tried to imagine. The mind likes to fit all pieces of the puzzle together to make a soothing picture, but in reality, life is not about a puzzle where the pieces even fit together correctly, it is about making sure that you dodge the next piece to steer to safety. She looked at the watch – 10 PM. No sign of the power yet. It was best to try to go to bed with nothing more suitable to do. So she went into her room, applied a skin cream on her arms and face, and lay down. She thought, her boyfriend of 3 years had decided to take up a job as far away as Canada, many many miles away. She did not understand how the lure of earning more money could let him set aside values. Values of being with parents, with family, being in the terra firma of where one is ingrained and destined to stay. She had wondered if she should come to terms with the fact that he was gone from her life, for good and forever. She had decided against going all the many miles to a foreign land. She chose, and consciously – to work hard and do well in her country. While thoughts floated, she fell asleep. Fatigue and sadness are a heady cocktail, and their combined power was no match for her tear soaked eyes.
She had work next day, so she set an alarm for 6 AM.
Moments of solitude sometimes reinvigorate the strength of the mind. Motivation is about being ‘you’, about navigating the ‘odds’, and leaving your comfort zone behind – albeit for good! She woke up before the alarm clock rang. She was pleasantly surprised herself. She was determined to leave her past behind her. A new beginning, she thought, new challenges, new triumphs, and tribulations!
She was ready to go to work when the doorbell rang. And lo! It was Rahul. Her boyfriend. She had imagined him being half way along the Atlantic on a long haul flight.
She said to herself – pinch me!! This must be a dream, while she hoped against hope it was real. Rahul knelt on his knees and proposed. “I want to be your friend, your partner for life, marry me! Let’s make a living in India!!!”