Hamari Kahani – Version 3
Co-authored by Roshan Varghese & Arun Nathani
An IT professional while getting ready for work, gazed in the mirror and noticed a grey strand of hair. “Age is catching up,” he reflected gloomily, “and I still haven’t found my life partner!” His glance slid down to his old, faded shirt, the wrinkles gradually smoothening against the slight bulge of his stomach. “It’s high time I got back to my exercise routine,” he reminded himself, “and perhaps it’s also time to upgrade my wardrobe, maybe my entire lifestyle. I need to get out of this tiny apartment, discard my old bike and buy a car.” The brainwave triggered an image of his parents and made him ponder, “What is more important? Upgrading social status or financially assisting those whose sacrifices are the reason I have a good job today?”
The thought of his ‘good job’ failed to elevate his spirits. Career came with its set of stresses—demanding boss, subtle politics, promotion anxiety, and competing colleagues. Yes, the teammates were nice, but it was just not the same as college friends of the carefree days. “I wish my old friends lived nearby,” he lamented as he got off the elevator, only to realize that his bike had gone for repair. “Everyone has deserted me, so why not my travel companion as well,” he resigned with a dejected smile. “So today is the first day I try out the new metro,” he concluded as he walked over to the station and boarded the train.
40 minutes later, he disembarked and began strolling toward his office. His walk was light-footed, he hadn’t felt so positive in a long time! His mind raced back, reliving those 40 minutes and replaying every moment from the time he boarded the train…
He settled down and reached for his phone instinctively; except it wasn’t there. “Well, clearly it’s not your day… You better not touch the PROD environment today…” he scoffed. He looked around and realized that everyone else was busy with their cellphones. Everyone else but he and a toddler who was sitting across him strapped to her mum. That kid had the most curious eyes he had ever seen. She had a sense of wonder that he hadn’t felt in a while. “When was the last time you were this excited about anything?!” He couldn’t recall.
His mind went straight back to the time when he was 15 and would wait for the BEST double decker bus ride from his school to home. There used to be one every 20 mins. He would skip the other buses because to him, it was worth it. With his student pass, the bus fare was just Rs. 2 and if he hopped in before the bus came to a halt, he was very likely to get the first seat on the top decker. Buses in Mumbai’s traffic seldom get to speed but there was this one stretch where the bus would cruise at 50kmph and the breeze would hit him flat on his face. He would imagine himself on a Royal Enfield cruising through the wilderness of Leh-Ladakh… Oh, the joy was unparalleled!
He had that motorcycle now – an Enfield Classic 350. He had done that pilgrimage to Leh-Ladakh two years ago. But he couldn’t summon that joy. The words of Alan Watts rung in his head, “The only Zen you will find on mountain tops is the Zen that you bring with you…” From that 15-year-old’s point of view, you are a success. Don’t let him down now…
He looked outside the window to take his mind off. It had begun to rain and he felt thankful that he was in a train and not getting soaked on his motorcycle and cursing the gods. He chuckled. Maybe there is a reason for everything after all. He was surely doing well for himself – actually, too well. He no longer had the hunger, the curiosity of the little girl or the drive of that boy he once was. New wardrobe is not going to fix that nor getting some lousy friends. He just needs to be grateful for what he has and conjure up a new set of dreams to keep him going… and as if on cue, the rains stopped, the clouds cleared, and the prompter on the train dinged to announce that it was his station next.
Today is the first day of the rest of my life, he declared.