[Introspective post alert: Not for the weak at heart!]
What is life? This is a question that has been rankling me for the past few days. It is so difficult to find a comprehensive answer to this question that even great seers and wise men and women down the ages have failed to reach a conclusion, or they have reached their own conclusions based on their personal experiences. In this, they are not unlike the common man who decides something or forms an opinion based on some experience he had had in life.
Now, why did I go to such a contemplative mood? I ran into one of my school friends who has played with me, learnt lessons with me and generally had fun in school. She is one who could see the comical view of any situation. But then, she was not academically inclined and preferred the company of other stuff to books(my exact opposite!) Then came end of school and we parted ways. What do you talk to a person with whom you’ve lost touch over 6 or 7 years? Naturally, you update yourself with information(whether that information would be useful, that is a difficult question to answer!) Then comes an eerie silence when both of you, now mature individuals, try to recreate the old times air but are too deeply mired into the present to do so. This is more so when the person in question is not your best chum(with whom you could go on and on about anything) or a person so less known that you can say a quick hi and bye! So, after the usual ritual of exchanging info, we were stuck in that silence. To me, she looked like the girl I had left in my 8th or 9th standard. It never stuck me that she would have had other experiences which would have molded her to what she is today. It was the same to her. She knew me only as the fun loving person who used to make the lunch hours memorable with her jokes and antics. Whether she was expecting me to pull out any tricks now, I don’t know. But she was clearly surprised by the way I handled the matter in the call which I received in the middle of our conversation. She remarked that I had changed and said “So goes life”. Now what was this? I never found anything different in me! I am the way I was and am.
On retrospection, I found a great deal of truth in her statement. We do expect our friends and others to remain the same as we had left them(more so with our childhood friends, we expect them to maintain the same childlike qualities they had when we parted. It is kind of difficult to accept that the girl who played tag with you is a happily married lady catering to the needs of her husband and in-laws and expecting her first child.) It does not strike us (atleast me till this meeting) that they would have faced different experiences and changed their personalities(though the basic characteristics cannot be changed. Or, can they?) Had I been the person in 8th, I would have danced in the rain for the news that came. But, two years in Avila and four years in college has taught me more and steadied me. It has taught me to take things lightly, come rain or sunshine.
It was the same with her. For me, marriage is a very big step(to be taken only when I achieve my self set goals of studies and career). It is a commitment which I am not ready to make for now. But, for her, it is life now. Her life revolves around her husband, his needs, her in-laws, their needs and so on. True, I too might reach such a stage sometime in life. But not this young! She laughs when I tell her of the plans I have for future and the expectations I have about life. Her expectations from life now are totally different. She was the same person who played with me after school hours, who shared the canteen samosa with me and built dream castles of winning the public exams hand in hand. She was the last person I could imagine clad in a traditional sari settled well ahead of any of us in our class. I finally wanted to ask her, in no uncertain terms, what happened to the dreams we had shared in school. But then, I knew that that question would have led to untrodden paths which both of us have no need for. When it is kind of difficult to explain the changes occurring in the people you meet in daily life over a period of years, it would be, no doubt, a Herculean task to do it for people not seen for six years. Further, though she is my chum, I suddenly felt a strange sense of detachment which is hard to explain. She was the same person about whom I cared for (even how she spent her time on Sundays and planned our weekday activities together). But now, I know that I can’t care for her in that sense. Though my care for her still remains, it has taken a different dimension. I now care that she leads a happy life with her husband and kid, a healthy and prosperous one with no shadows in the path she walks. Guess, this is life!