"Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be."
I have an average one way commute time of around twenty minutes from where I stay to where I work. Barring a few occasions when traffic or the pressures of job snarl up my attention, I would say I enjoy the commute, the solitude that rides beside me in my car. The solitary sojourn gives me time and a frame of mind to ponder over a wide range of things – personal, professional and even occasionally news events..! Solitude normally induces a chain reaction of thoughts. One thought leads to another, and so on. Simple logic, your mind is not bound when you are with yourself, no mannerisms to follow, no etiquette to break.
It was during one of those trips, while I was waiting on a red traffic light that I saw a bunch of bright, bubbly eyed, energetic and enthusiastic children crossing the road to take their school bus. It just stuck me at that instant, the magnitude of loss that tagged along with the process of growing up. Where was the joy I used to experience when I used to walk or cycle to school? That feeling bordering on ecstasy when you know the when the bell rings on this class, the next hour is PT? As much as time is a healer, time is a dampener as well. With time, when you grow up, your surrounding injects a huge dose of “maturity” into you. The society lays down rules which prevents you from acting “childish.” There is a barrier between propriety and impropriety which you never cared for as a child, but which you as an adult, try to uphold.
Simple pleasures. Stepping out when it is raining. As a child, you simply used to love to run out without a care in the world that you would get wet. Your natural tendency is to just go to the centre of the world and drench out completely till the rain stops, and it gets more enjoyable if it gets your mother to chase you. The sheer, unbridled joy. And now? You cuss upon the rain since it inevitably comes when you intend to step out. You think between jackets, umbrellas and what not to protect you from monsoon even when your intention is to get to your car parked a hundred meters away. And in spite of using any of the afore mentioned methods, you still manage to swear when you finally make to your car, because a drop or two (or maybe more) managed to break all of your obstacles and find its way onto your nicely pressed shirt. Did I forget that I so used to love those droplets falling on me once upon a time?
Lunch at school. Used to be an elaborate, often clumsy and sometimes even an unfair affair. You never had any etiquettes when you used to snatch stuff from someone else’s box. You used to enjoy sitting with your friends and munching stuff from your tiffin box. All those chaos associated with the ringing of the lunch bell at school. And now..? Occasions are getting scarcer when you can sit with everyone and share an elaborate lunch. Manners prohibit you from diving inside someone else’s lunch box scourging, and if we do glance into someone else’s box, we attempt to make it as subtle as possible. “No thanks, I am on a diet”, “Oh thanks, maybe just a little bite”….
Celebrations. Be it festivals, be it personal achievements, even the joy and celebrations associated with them seem to have become symbolic. What used to be getting together with family and entire days of camaraderie has now been reduced to a weekend party in some high end pub in town. Or an IM or text message wish. With a smiley, not a smile.
I do not have any control over life, I walk the way everyone before me has walked. And I show the way for someone from posterity. The light has turned green, and under this blue sky I take my foot from the brake pedal and shift it towards the gas pedal. It is then I notice the tiny drops of rain that have fallen upon my windshield. As I cross the junction, moving past the kids getting into the bus, my thoughts come back to where it all started, that I have to get to the office before the rain gets heavier. Shoot, the nasty headache from yesterday’s promotion party at the city tavern….