Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I-
I took the one less travelled by.
I couldn’t choose. Can’t choose. Decisions suck. Or I suck at making them. “We always have a choice”, but does that choice have to be made? Are choices and decisions even the same thing? I should know, considering the literary wizard that I boastfully pretend to be. But I don’t. I don’t have a clue.
Pretend. That’s all I do. That’s all I’ve ever done.I’m, as dear old Holden Caulfield puts it, a goddam phony. Yes, I’ve just finished reading The Catcher in the Rye, and being a phony, I just had to let you know. That book got to me, got to me on so many levels. Killed me, in fact. There you go, another snide reminder that I’ve read the book. I really am a phony.
This blog post wasn’t meant to be, not today, at least. I was supposed to wait till Sunday, begin with my trademark GoT analysis, throw in some jokes here and there and crib about my internship. Damn, I hate that office. But my fellow Imtiaz Ali admirer, Kaushik, chose this week to come up with a brilliant, yet brutally ruthless post (BITS Pilani, T Lawns and Sunshine).
It was a post I’d promised myself that I’d write one day, almost a year ago when I’d first started blogging. Well, not the dwindling magic of Pilani and its campus life, but maybe about how it eventually coerces you to reevaluate your opinion of yourself and your goals. Looking at the bigger picture is clearly not my thing. Now, a year down the line, Kaushik’s post, The Catcher in the Rye, my quiescent office life and an extra year’s “experience” have all coalesced to spur on my desire to take a look in the mirror. Even GoT gave it own subtle nod of approval, with the episode being titled ‘The Broken Man’. Or more probably, I’m letting my self-worth run amok.
Do you ever have these moments when you close your eyes, and your entire life flashes by you? I certainly do. Call me a phony if you will, but I do. I can see the faces of almost every person that I’ve ever laid eyes on, revisit losses and the sporadic ‘win’ and recollect almost everything, from my ex-principal’s slap to trysts at Leopold to the respective first days at school and college. It is midway between those 10 second montages with the headlines of the day and a data frame, with new entries being appended on a daily basis.
If there’s been a defining emotion in my life, it’s been fear. The fear of losing , in particular. When I first came to Mumbai, all I wanted to do was study and crack JEE. Hell, I even picked up a PACE question booklet from a random department store. I guess that says more about PACE’s advertising strategies than my enthusiasm, but never mind. Two years down the line, my friends were as important to me as my career was, not to mention the regular romantic
forays failures. I’d “evolved” into a Mumbaikar. Two years further, and I’d supposedly cracked the JEE. And ended up at BITS.
It is all a facade. Friendships and relationships work like images in a convex mirror: they’re closer (to your heart, if I may) than they appear. Alas, also like images in a convex mirror, in most cases, they are not real. To underscore my learnings from Principles of Economics, they are not the most efficient investments in human capital. Or maybe, I have my expectations skewed and superficial concern is good enough for people. It makes me wonder whether the “evolution” was worth it. Whether I’d have been better off sticking to the simple nerdy version of myself. Whether I should have learnt to care less, when I could. As Nic Pizzolatto/ Thomas Ligotti chose to convey through my favourite television character :-
My days in Pilani have slowly brought about a drastic transformation. From a topper, to a nobody(apart from the occasional humanities elective), from a Verti aspirant to a core proponent, from an optimistic first year, to a brooding third year. I wouldn’t blame the place, though. Not entirely. True, it does tend to instill a sense of laziness and a discomforting familiarity with falling short of one’s initial expectations. True, most of us while our days away holed up in our rooms, in front of our laptops. But the descent to mediocrity or the ascent to excellence have more to do with the feasibility of one’s initial goals. About the people, well, I’ve already said enough.
I remember getting the first zero of my life in an ES tutorial, and the celebration that followed. I still have that paper. I remember meeting people who I then thought were going to be my closest friends, whom I don’t talk to anymore. I remember feeling betrayed. I remember resolving to let people go. I remember winning the cricket quiz. And being nearly reduced to tears by three fourth years. Times change. People change. I don’t.
To me, it’s just life running its course. Again.