We think that everyone has their shit together, all sorted out, big future plans. Life is hard, interesting, exciting, embarrassing, and well just like a penis. But you need it, you need life to be there to make all the wrong choices and learn from it. Maybe it is just me, writing from a male perspective. Enough genitalia metaphors!
Life is like a code, you write and run it and it will shower you with errors. You rewrite it and errors will be less but some freakishly startling problems will pop-up.
You are born and then nurtured till you can walk, have your own food and communicate with others. That is the extent of mechanical parenting. But real pain in the arse problems, for the parents, start when you face the real world- first the school, then high school, college, universities, break-ups, crushes, and all other intermediate interactions with the unforgiving, rock-solid world. I planned everything in my life, rather decisions were taken on my behalf; which school I will go to, what should I wear, even my friends needed the certification of non-hazard from the home depot. But some worldly events slip out of those caring hands and fall on you. You are your only savior then.
I never planned to move out of the city, my hometown. I did plan it but it wasn’t supposed to be so early, certainly not in my 20s. The third year in college can be a really shitty time. You have to balance everything out, from college studies to studying for entrance exams. But good lord, I didn’t clear any one of the competitive exams and got into my city’s own university (based on merit).
Sipping on coffee and playing Battlefield 1, I got an email. And that was it. My life in my comfort zone ended that very moment. Madras School of Economics asked me to revert if I was willing to take up their environmental economics course for the next two years. Split second decision was made and I agreed. They gave me 6 days to report with all the required documents and complete the formalities. I had 6 days to cut off some materialistic ties – my bed, my soft but not too soft pillows, my bookshelves, my Bougainvillea which I planted that summer, my room, the essence of my city, the cyan twilights, the last glow of the sun which I watched every evening religiously. And I had 6 days to arrange for everything necessary in a city 1600kms away which does not speak my language, barely understands English and pretends as if they are not a part of the Republic of India. I needed everything to make me feel less homesick. But I’ll be leaving two treasures back at home to take care of themselves and also take care of me, digitally. This meant only one thing.
The next 5 days were a shopping marathon. Clothes, suitcases, bare necessities, books and… more clothes. I don’t work really well under stress but I came through. Putting up a smile on the face, meeting relatives and friends, telling them you are really excited to move out this rat-trap of a city and start a new life, a new chapter, but you are actually screaming, scratching on the inner walls of your skull and yelling “SAVE ME!” But you can’t really say you don’t want to because it was your decision.
There I was standing on the platform, waiting for the train with three huge suitcases and a few other bags and I think subconsciously, someone will come to the railway station and those movie type scenes will happen where you and your friends’ eyes well up before you say goodbye and the train honks and smoke fills up the whole station and the green flag is waved and… oh, the drama! Nothing happened. Got up on the train, found our cabin, had dinner and fell asleep. Two days on a train and I will be in Chennai.
My roommate is actually my college mate. We were in the same batch, same class. So much to tell but so little I can speak of, publicly.
But tell you what; it sucks to be out of Kolkata when she is all decked up with lights and the aura of festivity and togetherness. I will just say it out loud. I am missing the sound of dhaks (which was apparently noise to me when I was in Kolkata), the meaningless noise of bhepus, the irritating sight of PDAs when you walk down the crowded streets, the touch of new clothes specially meant for Durga Pujo, the strong smell and smoke of Dhuno, Ekdalia’s chandelier, Roadside food shops, bhaarer chaa and egg roll.
It is Panchami and I am sitting on a mattress in my apartment, I have to wash cooking utensils now, after that I will go out and buy some eggs and vegetables, and a milk carton. I need to call up the water guy and ask him to send me one 20 liters of Bisleri. But it’s alright. I won’t have Kolkata beside me all life. I should just get used to the feeling.