Doctor

I was to be a doctor, A DOCTOR! I tried, not because my parents wanted, but that’s what I thought I should do at that point in time. Obviously, life had other plans for me.

I was 17. Blood was never as hot as for my peers. I wasn’t stubborn. But looked serious, so I am told. Grew up in a college campus, professor’s kid! May be the glasses; always felt out of place in a group, still do!

Doctor, that’s what I wanted to be! I knew that the exam was tough; a mass hysteria! One day affair, two sessions of draining vomit of the past two years, definitely it’s going to stink. Sense prevailed by evening, I was not going to be a doctor.

Me and my Dad, decided to run away from that examination centre, from that city, at the first given opportunity. No booking, ride the general compartment , that was the call.

One of the very first long train rides that I took- worst experience of my life except for the blowing wind. The train has always had that smell of iron & dust like the blood and sweat of the many men who thrived to build that massive network. Standing, swaying, sleeping, the night was getting longer than that day. The meal of the night was slowly developing into something monstrous within me. I wondered about my Dad’s stomach and then about all the others in that train, a train full of that night’s meal!

I was carrying the bag which was more like to complete that trip. A trip needed a bag, I assume. It was an exam, so a pen, a pencil etc- so a bag was justified.

After almost eight hours of journey, standing and swaying, smelling neighbors aged sweat, we both were like zombies who rubbed their eyes open to the fact that the train doesn’t stop at our usual stop. I was heart broken, raged; Dad was saying something- did he say next stop? Was he crazy? Next stop! Pull that chain, someone? People joined in our discussion- I was isolated again in that group- I don’t need your suggestions – NO NEXT STOP!

Arguments. Train was slowing down for some reason. Bag, me, Dad, that was the order from the door. Jump? My blood was on the hob, slowly boiling. Dad wondering, can I make it- THE JUMP? Next stop is another one and a half hour of swaying and jumping in another mode of land transport! Jump now or jump later? Your choice!

It was 4 am. Not yet dawn. Yellow lights hardly helping to see. I saw the train turning, slowing down. Almost stopping. Bag, me, Dad- that was my plan- didn’t ask what my Dad’s was!

It was 4:02. Cold a bit, but my boiling blood kept me warm. Train is passing the station now. Me and my bag can make it, I thought; didn’t ask what my Dad thought!

JUMP!

Bag!Me!

Papa, jump!

The moment I jumped, train started picking up speed, it had a plan, to reach the next stop and the stops after. The sound of the train started getting louder. I stood there, watching my dad struggling through the vertical steps of the pacing train. What the fuck did I just do?

Papa, jump!

Train was upset, it seemed. Getting faster and louder. What was my Dad thinking at that time? Was he thinking I didn’t have any money in my hand? Was he thinking he might not be able to make it? Was he worried leaving his teenager son at that time of the night alone on the track? Was he thinking of my childhood? I really hope he was just thinking about his life at that time, for God’s sake!

He jumped, just escaping the nearby metal pole which I am sure he wasn’t aware of. As I looked, I saw his silhouette struggling to balance on the rubbles around the tracks. The train made a dramatic exit out of the scene bringing the violent background score to an end. Silence and darkness took over, and the crickets.

4:03

That was one of the longest one minute of my life so far!

We were far apart; Dad walked towards me without complaining, calm. I don’t think we said anything during our next ten minutes’ ride from the station, or even the next day. I was still angry, blood hot. That night the doctor in me died forever and it all went out of hands afterwards.

Later I apologized to my Dad for that night. I still do at times in my mind!

25 years, it still gives me chill to my spine how that night could have changed our lives. The power of a particular moment that you have still fascinates me. It influences our future beyond our imagination!

Why was I hurrying? What was bothering me? Was I just being an asshole? Maybe I was just a slave of that moment of which I had no control.

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Exercise 01- setting

I always believed you can write about anything, long. This is an extension of that belief. A practice session.

As you write, you communicate to the reader about the setting, state of mind or whatever you want to say. The catch is to put words together, so that the interest is maintained.

Here it is- attempt is to convey the sense of my surrounding, where you are etc.

She just slid in under the blankets along with me. I generally sleep with least amount of cloths. She put her arms around my waist, head against my chest. I could feel her warm breath at regular intervals. I could judge that she was well rested the previous night. Her tiny hands and fingers moving once in a while. I liked her being like this, expressing her affection unconditionally.

I sat against the bed head. My pillow supporting my back. I don’t like the cold metal touching my bare back and always made sure the pillows covered all the possible metal parts. My feet under the blanket along with her

From my bed, I could look out through the window. The covered balcony outside didn’t allow me to see the sky as much as I wanted to. Always been a cloud chaser, wondering what it will be like to be one, changing shapes and form, sometimes dark and sometimes as white as snow, at times pouring at times drifting. Against the blue sky and another million colours at different times of the day.

I looked around and saw the things in the room. Wondered if it was me who bought all these stuff! This clutter! The books in the shelf, my work desk, her cot, the wardrobe! All of these looked dark and aged in the deep blue light that seeped into the room. They all seemed to be upset where they are. They were silent observers of our life, secret guardians. Obviously I have shared many private moments with them, when the door was closed. They have seen us arguing, fighting, at times about where they should be placed! Interestingly, my chair was turned towards me, as if it was staring at me. With a bit of tilt towards the back, it had an authoritative pose. Judging me, my life!

She slept again, with her mouth open. She was up early, roaming around in the house. Talking to herself and to her ‘friends imaginary’. When she saw me on my iPad, she wanted to work with me, got inside the blankets and slept off

Let me revisit/ edit this time and time again.

I didn’t, I couldn’t

Tired and aloof from a broken sleep

A sleep haunted by a dream

I didn’t make it Dad, I didn’t

Times have changed, aspirations differed

Lifestyle has ‘progressed’, life isn’t

I couldn’t make it Dad, I couldn’t

I worry. I worry, if I could feed my kids

I wonder, if I could lead my kids

I wonder, you had such worries, Dad

I didn’t make it Dad, I didn’t

I wished you let me walk on my own

I wish you held my hand now, Dad

We compete, fight for the left overs

We sleep tired feeding on the greed

Wake up tired haunted by the deed

I couldn’t make it Dad, I couldn’t

Thank god it’s just a dream, this far

Me, Dad and a slump in the throat.

ON THE ROAD

At night everything makes sense, sometimes. I had struggled to sleep, off late. Different thoughts kept me awake. A sense of lack of time was killing me inside out. Lack of time to do what? That was something I needed to figure out. They say, as you get older you ‘actually’ sleep less.

Yesterday was somewhat like one of those nights. The phone next to your head is yet to set off. I reached out and got hold of the phone, shivering in the coldness of Air Conditioning. I felt like warming it up.

3:00

The seconds blinking just like my cursor now, when I am not typing. I felt it’s trying to tell me something. Get up? Alarm was set for 6:00. I have three more hours of ‘scheduled ‘ sleep

I sat up. I sat there for almost an hour, picked up the phone again.

3:04

This is the time , tricky in your life. I have read most people die in early hours of morning. That I am sure is a made up survey led by a dramatic person. But I was sure, sleep was not on cards from then.

I looked for my glasses and for my slippers. I needed to see the world with a warm feet, not with a cold one, duh! Glasses, always were a worry, first to reach out every morning. Now, phone is in the league too.

I tiptoed out of the bedroom. Without switching on the lights, making sure I don’t wake anyone up. I have felt this is the time your mind is very clear. I WAS AWAKE. When I try to recollect those moments now, they don’t come easy, but I FELT awake, then. The feel of that morning is fresh in my mind even now.

As the water was boiling, my mind wandered. The unwritten emails, left over tasks, incomplete proposals started rushing in to my mind. I didn’t want to think about them and exactly they were the ones which managed to squeeze through. These thoughts were unfinished business when I hit the bed. No one had taken up and solved them for me, no one would. You need to clear your own shit, you can’t complain about that.

The things that you procrastinate, the things that you wanted to say but left unsaid, the things that you wished you did and didn’t do, the life you didn’t live, the love you didn’t give- they visit you too, at this hour. The way the time has slipped through your hands, how life has tricked you in this trap, the way you have taken things for granted, how you have let them down! They say lot many times, I am too hard on myself, but where is the bar? How hard is really hard?

I was not walking like a zombie, but with purpose, that morning, having no idea of who woke me up. As I circled the dining table with my tea, I saw this book I picked up the night before from my pile of unread books. It looked like that book was kept there by someone for me to see, at the center of the table below the dining lamp.

What I noticed was the smiling Kirsten Stewart on the cover when I bought it. It said, ‘NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE’ , ON THE ROAD. I saw the movie afterwards but I had forgotten about this book that I bought. Loved the movie, and yes, Kirsten!

Dawn was yet to crack. Light was yet to come in. I could feel the deep blue sky outside without looking out. I could feel how cold it was outside and how silent it was. I could hear my heart beat, slow and relaxed. I was at peace at that moment as I sat on the table. On one side I had my iPad and on the other, Kirsten. There was a kind of mind game for a few seconds before I made the obvious choice. Before knowing, I was typing JACK KEROUAC on my Pinterest search bar. It opened up a whole new world of information. His books, quotes, pics and what not!

I was reading with purpose now. I get distracted fast if the words are not arranged well in an exciting way. But this one was a keeper and had all the energy of a young stallion. I read some initial interesting pages and got distracted again on the digital screen

Those were inspirational. I was no where near that description. But how the idea was put and the formation of that sentence were amazing. It made me think about my life, how I live, what work I do. Madness that was contagious was totally absent and was filled with a kind of escapism. So bland that you slept to kill time as if you are doing time, to fill in a form.

No, I should not get carried away, the rationale mind advised.

I was upset. Visibly upset. What I have done with my life and what I have become. Not leading a life that I would wish to relive. I saw my reflection on the black screen of my idle phone, lit by the lamp above. I took off my glasses and reflection became blurred. Wore them again, touched the screen and the bright light of the screen hid my reflection, I decided to escape again, one more time.

But this hit me hard. A sudden urge to run got into my head. This time an escape for a good reason. An escape from the unattended baggage of yesterday, responsibilities, the things weighing you down so much that you find it hard to move. To know how it feels to be free. To see the possibilities. An attempt, at least once?

LEAVE.

Do you have the balls?

I guess this is what happens when you sit alone at this time of the day. I have been a loner who enjoyed solitude. But the fact that no one would ever think of me to have a ‘good time with’ has often left me depressed. You can’t have both, I suppose!

I was clear at that point that I should leave. So clear that it scares me now. I too should hit the road, meet strangers who don’t judge you or expect you to be ‘someone’.

As I struggled with my reflection on the phone, it lit up again, it was the alarm this time around.

6:00

Glasses

Glasses

As long as I remember I have glasses, thick glasses. The Olympics at some part of the world did good to me as I struggled to read the seconds, countries etc on the television screen. I was aloof to cartoons, unlike other kids. We all came to know why soon, I had weak eye sight, less gifted, maybe cursed.

Is this better or is this better? Much has not changed since then , the doctor asks the same things even today. Burning eye drops and blurred afternoons at the clinic. These are the memories of my visit to my ophthalmologist with a hunchback. As I knew then, he was a saviour to many. It was a dull affair, I guess, but indeed set my expectations of life as realistic, long and boring to a larger extent.

Ever since then glasses were part of my face. I was a novice, at least changed nine pairs by the time I hit fifteen years of age. Dad once was so pissed that I had to use my glasses with one arm for a while as he refused to buy a new one. It’s like part of my face now, like the eyes themselves. Always dirty and scratched; twisted as I slept with them always, well, almost. Maybe I wanted to have my dreams vivid.

But ironically, I realized much later in life that I am more of a visual person. I feel, I see much more than the visual itself. I wonder how glasses have changed my outlook towards the world. The blurry world around me would have been much different. I might have been more kind and more accepting of others realities perhaps. Maybe I wont see a distant danger and worry too much. It will only be clearer once it’s near me, in front of your eyes, my weak eyes. Isn’t that how we are supposed to live, with less worry?

As I painted, sketched and survived my younger days, I took all for granted, I suppose, including my glasses. One will see my brushes, all dipped inside a mug of water with mixed colors. I used to spend my Sunday mornings making paintings. As I write this, the picture of me sitting in my corner is coming back to me so clear that I even remember the laminate color of that table top. I am trying to open the drawer of that table, what was in there? It feels like memory and eyesight has no particular relation. In the sense that your visual memory need not be bad due to your poor eyesight. As they say, memory is more deeper, how something made you feel while a visual is superficial. However, the emotions that is generated by a visual need not be superficial- duh, it’s so complicated. Why do I try to draw a line?

However, over the years the glasses have become thicker, visuals deeper and abstract. Life boxed me as an architect to make a living and survive. While it feeds my soul, it does struggle to feed me and my family. Money was never enough, it never is. As an architect it’s quite important what you SEE when you look at things. While my glasses help me see things clear, with its sharpness, the things that I wanted to take from the visuals never came from the visual itself. How design and details worked. That is more to do with curiosity and eagerness to look for things.

Eye has a soul of its own. They see things you want to see. It sometimes trick you like your mind does. I have had situations where I see things which are not there and have argued about it. This may be genetic as my grand mother used to hallucinate and may be that’s exactly where I am headed too. It’s a state of high where you build your own reality and see what you want to see, good or bad, but just what you want. That must be amazing!

I am sure, my glasses at some point will fail to support me, if I stay long enough. Darkness will prevail. All good things have to come to an end, they say. I wonder about the things in that dark world. I used to have a dream where a bullet travels through air and hitting my forehead. Imagine the camera was on the bullet itself, and I get up every time it hits my forehead. As I struggle to recollect that childhood dream in its clarity, one thing sure of it is its monotone, the shades of darkness, black.

I took out my glasses before I wrote the last few words here. Twisted, scratched and dusty. I cleaned and wore it back, my glasses.