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I woke from my slumber with a start,with thoughts of floods in Gujarat & landslides, before I figured that it was just raining in old Bombay. Songs from a Disney musical begin to play. I wonder if I'm hallucinating. Slowly opening my eyes, I sighed with relief as I realised that I had drifted to sleep while watching a movie I had been “ very enthusiastic” about a few days ago. Yanking off the headphones and pushing the blanket off my unmade bed, I walked to the balcony, and saw a sight that was achingly familiar, yet hauntingly strange.
The sky was overcast with clouds, and water poured on everybody. A kid in a floral multicolour raincoat danced impishly, still clenching his mother’s hand. The mother half-heartedly admonished the child, while shielding his bag with her umbrella, which seemed to be made from the same material as the son’s raincoat.
A couple shared a deep red umbrella on the other side of the road. As the girl played with the rain water, the guy looked at the girl as if she was the rain, the water, the grey of the rain, the red of the umbrella and quite possibly, his entire world.
Meanwhile, the flower-seller, whose shop was no more than a shanty on the pavement, began stringing jasmines & marigold with reloaded vigour, the orange and white forming a most striking contrast with the grey background. He then hung the finished string in bunches, and the fragrance of the jasmine mingled with the raw scent of wet earth.
The cool breeze blew through my hair as I took in the entire scene, whilst trying to lure a little sparrow to sit on the window grill so that I could capture a photograph.
It had been raining for four days in Mumbai, and I had been living here for the past 4 years, but it felt as if I was seeing the rains after thousands of years. Today was my first holiday in two weeks, and I realised how I had not noticed the rains even though I was a part of them everyday. Sitting in front of a monitor & frantically typing stuff, with TV screens blaring & people yelling all around me in a windowless office for 10-12 hours a day and a pittance for a salary had become my life.
There was a time I looked forward to the rains, and enjoyed their pitter patter, now I barely reacted to the rains, except when they delayed my regular 2.21 train.
There was a time I sat for hours together at the window sill, ruminating & idly watching life all around. Now I only time I went to the balcony was to check if there was any waterlogging, or to see whether I needed a raincoat or if an umbrella would suffice. There was a time I flinched at people speeding up their car while going over a puddle. Now I – well, I still do the same. Some things never change I guess.
Vidya Balan’s lines from Lage Raho Munnabhai “ Shehar ke iss daud me daudna kya hai, agar yahi jeena hai, toh marna kya hai?” resonated in my ears. Like countless others, my life had become a constant shuttle between the workplace and home, interspersed with bed and movies in between. The long hours and odd timings just made my grumpier, screwed up with my health and in short, made me a monster to live with. The only conversations I seemed to be having with people were about job, or marriage- the presence of the former and not even a semblance of the latter.
In a rare moment of clarity (and a not-so-rare moment of nausea) I took a good look at my colleagues. One suffered from insomnia, another battled alcoholism and almost everybody took a “ smoke break” every 2 hours at the very least. These were people in their 20s-30s. The prime of their lives, having been stuck in the home-work-home routine. had transformed into years of stress, smoke & subtle decay.
So that is when I decided to make some solid changes in my life. I decided to write again, just for pleasure, at least now. To overcome this writers’ block, which I am still, quite, quite petrified of, and to try and make it better by starting over, step by step. To meet up with friends, old & new, and make time for them, even though it meant giving up on holidays or getting up a few hours early. To go back to reading more books, and maybe, like a certain Mr Zuckerberg, try and actually follow a reading list. To simply doodle on sheets of one sided papers. To replace ice creams and colas with fruit yoghurt & warm water. To not wait for the " love of my life” , but to just take life as it comes and instead, focus on things which are in my control. To learn a new language, or maybe two. And most of all to remember to distinguish between work and life, and never fuse the two, no matter how intertwined they might get.
In short, to just get "Never take life seriously. No one gets out alive, anyway” permanently tattooed in my brain.
So here I am, enjoying the cool breeze, and hearing the rain fall from the rooftop onto a tin can and make that ‘ting’ sound, and letting random thoughts flow in and out of my head, sometimes making sense, sometimes not, but all the time feeling good. Hearing my conscience speak to me, that tiny little voice which had faded in the din that was the workplace, and to get back the life I had, to create the life I want. Maybe some of you should too.
Welcome back, dear blog, dear pen, dear book, dear music. I have missed you!