The Current State of Being


I was reading Siddhartha Mukherjee’s “The Gene-An intimate History”, when I decided to take a break and sit outside my hostel. An old couple live nearby guarding the hostels and herding their sheep. When I sat down on the stairs, I looked at a boy lying down outside the hut, while the old woman was sound asleep. The boy was waving something in his hand, that seemed like a pen to me, as I thought why would a woman be sound asleep at 6:30 in the evening, when I was paranoid about wasting my time and doing something productive. My thoughts took me to Jared Diamond’s “Guns Germs and Steel”, where he explains why countries and people have turned out the way they are today. I thought about this big imbalance in shift of living conditions between me and the old couple, which enabled me to get an education, and let me ponder on atoms, genes, bytes and my own existence. Contrastingly, their conditions have made them anchored to the most primitive needs as food for dinner, and eventual thoughts of earning money to get them their next day’s meal.

I am in a midst of this point in my life where, most of them around me are concerned about job placements and salary packages, and me, being a passionate filmmaker wanting to take the course of hard way, projecting myself to nearby future of taking odd menial jobs to support myself as I gain contacts to make a feature film. At that point, I think of myself waiting to meet a friend who has not been in touch for a while, with this inherent taken-for-granted idea that he would buy me lunch which would save me some money.

At each point in life, it has taken me a few seconds to jump into thoughts about my future self of me having a passionate encounter with a sexy lady, which are more recurrent these days. In both my instant projections, and in the woman’s sleep, I see a form of escapism. Of losing touch with reality where instead of me projecting myself into fantasies, I could ground myself back to reality by writing, or drawing a comic, or reading, or taking a photograph or at least making up mental footnotes of the philosophies of patterns observed in a crowded place with a lot of different dynamics. My assumption about the woman in a nap being an escapist could be wrong, and she could have been sleeping of sheer exhaustion. Yet, I can project herself worrying about money for next day’s meal, which would again make her escape into some sort of a medium, again getting hit by the ground hard reality and this vicious cycle continuing. But, the state she is in is an exact reflection of the state I am in, except I am more intellectually mature compared to her when it comes to dealing with my problems. She seems to be this walking pond with clear water, reflecting my own pattern of existence, not trying to interfere, just like we infer ponds to be. Rivers change courses, shapes stones and pathways, but to us ponds are docile just like lonely ants. Then, as I walk on the road, I see many ponds walking opposite, along, sideways, discussing grade sheets, movie production issues, thesis papers, stock markets, hike in salaries, looking at each other, but never interested in observing their reflection in others, as I recall my childhood walking along roads observing people, wondering the vastness and uniqueness of everything around me, conscious of the passing second grazing my hand, as I call it “the current state of being”.

A Coffee Meeting


“Wake up, Charvi!”, mother called out. 6.30 A.M. Mom’s voice as wakeup call was so much solace rather than the alarm tone that would ring on working mornings at my apartment. It was supposed to be a happy weekend for me at home. I was one another from the corporate world that loved the job she does but awaits weekends to get a break from assignments and projects.

But that was not going to be just another weekend!

There is another very special reason why I awaited this day. I smiled at the sun that was being generous by not throwing strong rays on my face. I wanted to look beautiful today. I did not want to do anything. I was just waiting to hear his voice. Yes! Aayush had said we shall talk today.

It had been a really long time since I caught the light from his beaming eyes, laughed at his simple jokes, held his warm hands and had a walk out on the beach side.

I met him during my third year at college, not even knowing he existed before. We both seemed to be the ‘keep it simple’ kind of people. Extroverts, both. Always analysing life. No wonder we liked each other, that later grew to be a relationship.

I was elated when we both got placed in the same company during campus recruitments. Ended up being offered projects at the same place. My joy knew no bounds! I totally loved having him beside at office. He liked it too. But in due course, I was able to sense that he smiled only because I wanted him to. It shouldn’t go this way for long, I decided.

This was our conversation:

“What is that you are not telling me, Aayush! What is bothering you?”

“This is not what I am Charu, I don’t find any meaning by typing codes all day. It feels like I am living with machines, killing literature. I just want to go away. Find my life!”

That was when I could feel my temples throb. It was hard for me to swallow. But what I cared more for was his life. I wanted him to love whatever he does, like me.

After passing educational and physical fitness exams with really good results, Aayush joined the Army. I have never seen him so full of life since we took our software projects. And now he comes home only during annual vacations.

We all might feel a little insecure about his career. But Aayush felt, to him, this is perfect.

I was waiting at the table for his arrival with a steaming hot coffee by my side. I wanted to etch every moment with him in my mind since our meetings were reduced to countable times a year.

There he was, finally, with that light in his eyes, sturdy build, reassuring smile.

“Hi Charu! Wassup? Looks like you a long conversation with the moon?”

“Yes. Was catching some of its radiance when you weren’t around!”

Our conversations were always unusually interesting.

I felt like he was all that was real, unmindful of what was happening around me. I could feel myself becoming more alive as the conversation built on. It brought me so much happiness to look right at him, sitting opposite to me. We spoke for 2 hours, time didn’t seem to exist.

Soon it was time for him to go. “Bye Charu, Don’t bore the moon and miss me too much.”, “Haha! You take care, fighter”. I wanted to see him until he left the room, the way he would turn to go; his bold, quick walk. But those little hopes were dead as soon as I saw “Call Disconnected” on the Skype window!

When She Said her Passion is Dead


“What’s your passion? What do you want to achieve?” I asked her. “My passion is dead. It’s buried” she replied with eyes full of tears. “I’m a girl from a conservative family. I’ve been trying to pursue my passion right from standard 8. I love literature, poetry, and design. The education institutions I studied in ruined my passions. Relatives and parents were discouraging me. Now after ceaseless disappointments and pains, I’m working as a computer programmer. If you ask me what’s my passion, I don’t have an answer. During my childhood I was into dancing, professional dancers asked me to pursue dancing as I had a great future in it. My grandma opposed it strictly and I left dancing. I used to write English poems but when my relatives and parents read it, they asked me “for whom are you writing these? Are you in love?” There ended my tryst with poetry writing. I rarely write nowadays. I played badminton in my high school. My staff said that if I’m trained in the right way, I may excel in it. Then my parents said, “You need to build your body and stay fit for it. You can’t do it”. I locked my badminton dreams in the locker of the gym. My team started hating me for what I’d done. I studied well, scored good marks and got into a decent college. I wanted to become a fashion designer. But, this passion too failed.” She continued speaking.

“I felt lost. I felt terrible. I felt stupid. You may ask, why can’t I pursue my passion without my parent’s knowledge? I can’t, because I’m a girl. I’m a stupid girl! Now I’m earning 50,000 per month. Do you think I’m happy about it? I’m a lifeless person. Nowadays all I think is, I want to get married and settle with a good husband. That’s the only good thing I am fit to do in this society. Do you think I can simply go and ask my parents to get me married? I’m living in a world of hatred, disappointment and humiliation. Just because I wear branded apparels and good-looking shoes, it does not mean that I’m happy. I can easily wear a fake smile. Do you think I can resign my job? I need to give a peaceful retirement to my parents. For that, I need this 50,000 per month. This is the hard truth brother. You may come across many women in your day-to-day lives. I can vouch for sure that this is the condition of almost all girls born into middle-class, narrow-minded, conservative families. I’m not blaming my parents. I blame my ancestors. I blame this biased society. I blame this education system and finally, I blame myself for wasting my life. My passion is dead, but I earn 6 LPA with some programming skill I learned in my college. Wish I was born as a boy, like you brother” saying this, she wiped her tears away, finished her coffee, and checked her face in the front camera of her iPhone. “Do I look fine?” she asked me. I nodded. She smiled and it looked fresh. “My parents will start searching for a groom soon”, she said with tired eyes.

It replayed again and again in my head when I saw her photo in the obituary column of the newspaper 2 years after this incident. There was a “Mrs” before her name.