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Growing up, holding down a ‘steady’ job, or generally ‘settling down’ can make staid, conformist individuals of those who had been once starry eyed!
It seems like just yesterday that I was hanging out with my friends in an all time favourite pub; some gulping down beer pints, some sipping on a cocktail, while one or two came just for the music. Our happy faces gleamed in fluorescent lights and with a dash of alcohol and music in our bodies we felt alive.
I am not sure what it was that made us pour our hearts out but we all chatted endlessly about; dream jobs, the plans yet to be executed, the faraway places waiting to be explored, that studio apartment with pastel walls which was to be owned, a book to be read, a thought which was too bold for the society to hold, the world which needed to change and the change which we were to be.
Oh how I believed in myself and in each one of them. I am still not sure what it was that flowed in our blood. Whatever it was, it did get us high. I don’t know when and how but the world around me suddenly went into a fast forward mode and I wish there was some way to rewind this cassette by twisting the center with a pencil or something. I feel like that old stationary tree in a storm which watches everything go around it in a swirl but has no arms to catch them and pull them down to the ground.
I am past 25 now, yes, not too old to get nostalgic over my college days but too young yet to give up my thoughts, ideologies and dreams, to enter the ‘real life of grown ups’. Being brought up in a society where everyone right from your aunties to seldom-spoken-to-neighbours get concerned over your decreasing marriage prospects with increasing age, I thought that I was pretty much prepared to brave all the curious minds when my career goals demanded a break for a few months, and I ended up in my home for a little hibernation.
But life’s funny ways of testing my patience have left me in a fix with a very simple question which is thrown towards me by each and every person I happen to meet, “So what’s next?”
No, don’t mistake this question for a genuine concern for your life. Don’t even try to answer it, just let it go with a smile and look at your mother for some help here. It is not a question which demands any explanation that you may try to weave in your head. Those of us who have gone through this painful phase know very well that it is a suggestive question and is often followed by a discussion on some distant never-met-after-the-eighth-grade cousin getting married in two months.
Well, it would have been easy to let it go as a pinprick if it was just my relatives and family-friends but what really bothers me and often gives me sleepless nights is a very direct question asked by my friends, “So when are you getting married?” It pricks me deep inside and I feel betrayed and lonely in a world full of strangers. Suddenly all words fail me, all dreams appear distant, reason fades into dust and smoke.
I wonder how much time has elapsed since we last sat together before being caught in the whirlwind of life’s monotony that demands us to be conformists. I don’t know for sure but it feels like ages. My mind goes back to the time when we seemed to understand each other so well that we almost resonated with the energy emanating from our souls.
Oh no, don’t get me wrong for I am not against marriages or the people who get married. I am worried for the voices who give up on themselves in the name of societal norms. I am agitated by the surprised reactions when they hear me answer that I don’t intend to get married. I am more worried over the friendly messages teasing me that I would be hitched in no time now, even when I helplessly try to explain my plans and dreams in a vain attempt to catch any glimpse of that warm and fiery look in their eyes which transcended that dimly lit pub just a few years ago.
I can go on to elaborate the feeling and explain my stand but in doing so I may just be giving the idea of falling into self-doubt to many so I would just like to conclude by saying that yes, I feel like a popcorn in a pizza…something that you least expect to see in a perfectly baked cheesy slice ready to melt in your mouth. And I must say that moments like these really fill my head with self doubt and make me question myself about that long ago evening we had enjoyed as young adults, “Was it just the alcohol flowing in our blood?”
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