Time.

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Time.

A point is in a single dimension.

A drawing on a sheet of paper is in two.

A real life object is in 3 dimensions.

The ‘ adventure corner ‘ of a local shopping mall with moving seats & water sprays with surround sound music is apparently in 4,5,6 dimensions .

But what is time.

Is it just a mere concept created by humans to track the progression of events throughout their existence?

Is it a non dimensional concept that can’t be materialised?

Maybe it is .

Maybe it’s not.

Time is what tells us how far we’ve come in life, to have achieved something significant or wasted the entirety of our existence is another debate, but it makes us aware of ‘progress’.

More than that, time is the wrinkles you start noticing under your eyes when you smile in front of a mirror.

Time is the clothes you have to give away because the sleeves are too short & the shoulders too narrow.

Time is the changing faces in your birthday album every year.

Time is the name flashing on your phone screen at 2 am that brings a smile to your face in 2012 and making you roll your eyes in 2014.

Time is change.

Sitting with my grandmother in the balcony , watching her travel back in time with anecdotes, i saw time.

As figurative as it was, though.

Growing up with working parents & a mildly alcoholic father , I was raised by my grandmother.

If you call her leaving me home with the maid while she gambles my parent’s hard earned money in multiple games of 21 cards ‘ raising ‘ me .

I like to think she was there to tuck me in for my afternoon nap & peel apples for my evening snack to make myself feel better.

My desperate longing for a lounging care taker aside, my grandmother was my confidant.

And I was hers.

” I’m not saying there is no god , just that I don’t believe in the idea of conveniently blaming all your bad luck & crediting all your good luck to something you don’t even know is real “ She said,with an indifferent expression.

We often talked about whether god exists or not. She had always taught me to stay away from the concept of luck,fate,chance and even faith.

“ Maybe people just need to believe in something that gives them peace. Have faith in something for tranquility and the social conventions lead them to the god their parents pray to na,dadi. “ I said.

I wouldn’t call myself an atheist, because i didn’t know enough to believing that god doesn’t exist. But i was against giving millions of rupees to temples and spending time with gurus and thanking god for your achievements you have worked hard for and blaming god for bad luck when you did nothing to make it better.

“ There is no god, Aria. That is all i know. “ she said. “ Why do you always keep saying that,dadi ? “ I finally asked.

She turned towards me, keeping the plate of peas she was peeling aside and said “ I will tell you why god doesn’t exist. I will tell you why going to temples is worthless. I will tell you why praying to different idols at 5 am is pointless. I will tell you why there is no ‘supreme power looking after us’ . “ I stared back into her teary gleaming eyes and listened carefully .

“ When i was 14, my parents used to move around the country because of my father’s job. I was the oldest sibling with one younger sister and two younger brothers and i had always been closer to my grandmother and the only one of us four who wanted to study and do something in my life, and that’s when i shifted to New Delhi to live with my grandparents and finish school and college in the city. My grandparents were very religious people, as most of the elderly are in our community, and they used to take me to the temple every morning before school and spend their whole day there until it was dinner time,while i used to stay in school and then go to a friend’s house afterwards. “

“ One day, entering the temple at the same time we always did, i tripped and my chappals broke, and i bent over to pick them up and throw them away while my grandparents walked inside. When i threw the chappals in the bin and was walking towards the room in the temple with the idols of different gods, a tall man was walking towards me, walking out after praying, with a red dot on his head and red-mustard thread loosely tied on his left hand. He was walking with a smirk and looked like any other 30-something average indian man.

There was nothing unusual about him.

Until i noticed he was actually walking towards me and not just exiting the temple.

Before i could comprehend what was happening, he was a few centimetres away from me, mumbling something like ‘ looking pretty today ‘ in hindi. And as i turned to the left to walk away from him, he pulled my left arm to pull me towards him and strangled my breasts, cupping them in the most disgusting way.

And before i could even get my vocal chords to coordinate a scream, he briskly walked out of the temple and i lost my centre of gravity to awkwardly fall on the floor.

When i lifted my head to get up, i saw everyone staring at me, the guy who collects the shoes at the entrance, the security guard in a dirty blue uniform, two pandits in yellow drapes walking around, and i realised how no one stopped the man. No one thought they should run to catch the man. No one even came to me to ask if i’m alright. “

“ And then i realised how i was on the floor, just a few meters away from the entrance of the hall with all the idols dressed up in the brightest red coloured drapes.

I realised how i was sobbing in disgust, and embarrassment, and helplessness, with all the gods watching me.

I realised how i was alone in a temple , the ‘holiest’ place i was taught there was. “ she continued, turning away from me.

“ If the power of god was strong enough to hold the faith and belief of billions of people all over the world. If the supreme power was actually looking over us, would that man really do what he did.

That man prayed to his god.

He was in the holy place where all the faith rested.

We were at the place everyone came to find their ‘peace’.

And that is when i lost faith in anything related to the universally respected three letter word…god.

The word lost it’s power for me. It’s been 62 years since this incident and i haven’t visited a temple since. Neither have I felt the need to. I’m as peaceful as i can be, i’m satisfied, and tranquil, and happy. And that is all you need to know. “ she finished as she picked up the plate of peas to start peeling them again.

I didn’t know how to react to whatever she has just said, i didn’t know if it was appropriate to hug her, but i clutched her arms and pulled her towards me to hug her anyway. And then we never talked about any god ever again.

Maybe i don’t believe in god because i’ve been raised to not bestow my faith in idols and find my peace in marble floored roofed structures. Maybe the only good thing i’ve known about a temple is the sweet prasad they give you at the end of a chant.

One thing i know for sure is that not believing in god’s supreme power hasn’t changed my grandmother over time. And i’d survive without it anyway.

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Wanderlust.

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travel.

that word is as subjective as paradoxically universal it seems, for some to travel doesn’t even cover crossing oceans, for some it’s as far as crossing borders, for the mildly ignorant and juvenile teenagers in this city it means covering a distance of 15 kilometers of the 36 this city is made of , in a car they call their own and visit whatever the seasonal ‘place to be’ is.
Surprisingly, all this doesn’t sound half as bad as i made it to be to the previously mentioned teenagers. And as hypocritical as it sounds, i was well acquainted with some.

She was one of them. Or atleast I thought she was.

When you live in the same city,the same house all your life, you build your own ecosystem. It has people you want to be close to, people who want to be close to you, the family that chose you, the family that you choose, a slight romantic congnizance and the like. You grow up to evolve as a person, but you are limited to your own ecosystem. No matter how ‘out of the box’ you perceive you are, how radical your concepts are, they are – as disappointing as it sounds – the by products of the ecosystem.Some of us outgrow our own safe place by changing cities,meeting new people, trying to change ourselves, some of us are comfortable with whatever we have around us,some of us don’t fit in either of those categories. And she was the latter.

Like a lot of us, she yearned for stability despite being moored, but she also wanted to break down her ecosystem,build small ones everywhere she went – going everywhere she wanted to. She didn’t agree to what Tolkien said ” how sad is that people believe that not all those who wander are lost, for what fun it is to wander if you don’t let yourself be a little lost ” which is ridiculously literal but liberating and she completed it with ” but how scary it is to risk losing yourself in the process “. And like a lot of us, she was a conflicted contradiction.

She didn’t think about how anchored she was, she didn’t think much about anything at all, She also didn’t live in the moment, more like drift through many. Until the day she got an escape she never knew she needed. She traveled across 2 oceans, built a life in another continent, with her past rather clenching on to her like a rugged rope choking her throat being cut with a blunt tool. After 425 days of a soothing pandemonium, she was ready to fit into a new ecosystem.

I’d call it fate if i didn’t know better, but just as she was feeling accustomed to the refurbished walls that now surrounded her, circumstances swayed her across another ocean, where building new walls hurt, because they drifted in closer, and they -for the first time -felt harsh.

As she tried harder to smoothen up to them, this time, while building up an emotional fortress , she was trapped in herself. While evolving in a lucid ecosystem, she lost her wanderlust.

Life and other debauchery.

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I was sitting in a cafe in the middle of an overcrowded mall drinking overpriced coffee on a fully occupied table for 10, alone. It wasn’t one of those out of focus moments where it seems like you’re contemplating the meaning of life unconsciously having a stare contest with a random corner tile, or maybe it was, i don’t have it titled yet.

‘ That trip changed my life, i swear ‘

I heard a friend mid conversation, talking about ‘the best trip of her life’ , like the last 46 she’d talked about.

Trying to be more involved in the conversation, I adjusted myself in my seat and put up an attentive demeanor only to realise i was participating in a game a 20 questions amongst a group of unimaginative teenagers. The girl on my right turned towards me, looked me in the eyes with a perturbed expression and said ‘ So,Aria, tell us about something you did or something that happened which held out to be the most significant thing in your life’

That question,rather prevalent, sent me into a thought frenzy, which eventually spiraled down to a tornado of introspection. I thought of a few incidents, the moment i got my 12th board result? the day my dog died? or the day my parents split? none of these felt like the right answer. It got me thinking about how insignificant the last seventeen years of my life have been. And how from all the skills i’ve acquired to the things i’ve done to all the decisions i’ve made that have built upto this moment since the bane of my existence have been “in the middle”. Even though I don’t have the faintest idea about what holds up to be tagged as a ‘significant’ incident, I know i haven’t encountered it yet.

It dawned on me, how i’d never felt a fiery ball in the pit of my stomach because i’d never done anything to ignite the will in me, how i’d never felt my adrenaline gush through my veins to consume me , how i’d never felt something so unnerving it was almost pleasurable.

This does not mean I was thinking about how I should climb the Alps or Hike through the mediterranean forest or meditate on the tip of the K2 for the thrill of doing something consequential. All it did was stir up a banter of existential dread and a questionably monotonous existence. I thought about how the rest of my life will pass like it has up until now and will continue to until one day i’m married with a couple of kids i made with a husband who’s expected to love me along with a mediocre job in a subpar firm where i sit behind a desk doing something I don’t love conforming to what society expects of me , degrading my self worth and my motivation to do something extraordinary along with the onset of old age and i will eventually watch my fledglings do what I did taking my last breath on a hospital bed probably due to a heart disease.

I didn’t realise how unnerving my inclination towards melodrama is but I did realise that what I need to do for now is find an answer to that question.

All this was probably building up since a long time considering how the most exciting thing i’d done was hop on a metro alone to a place on the other side of town and come back in an auto at 10:30, most of which was more terrifying than enthralling,i might add.

Snapping out of my passive aggressive thought process which I hoped i wouldn’t  convince myself to be a hormonal rant forecasting my proclivity of staying away from productivity, I answered ‘ ask me this question 5 years from now, and if I still don’t have an answer, bury me alive ‘ .

I got up to leave, hoping, that i was taking much more than a cup of coffee from that table that day.