I haven’t written much frequently in the last 3 years. I blame having nothing to write about apart from the misery of the world and the personal drama. For a long time, I thought there was nothing ‘happening’ around me. So finally took a step, and decided to venture outside my 4 walls to see what the world is dealing with. And what I saw, in a single day, are all worth pages of stories each. Let me summarize today, so that one of these days when I have nothing to write, I have something to brood on.
Scene 1 – a vaccine centre in urban Kerala. Sparingly crowded, with enough and more frontline staff taking care of the entire arrangement. And then I notice, the crowd is almost fully elderly. Not surprising since free vaccinations are mostly for the 60+ age bracket. But what struck me is how all of they were alone. One or two couples, one or two with a bystander. But most of them, alone. For a vaccine that keeps them safe from a fatal virus. But, alone.
Scene 2 – a town bus stand in urban Kerala. I enquire bus timings and walk away as I was running late. But the driver reminds me he is my best bet and assures to reach my destination in time. And he does. Drives safe, but keeps his schedule. Kerala private bus? Oh yes, I was surprised too.
Scene 3 – an office reception in the heart of a Kerala city. I rush in with my share of food delivery (juice for the scorching heat). The guy at the reception insists I try out his food recommendations. Casually mentions vaccination, Covid deaths and how he lost his family members. Casually? Is he over it? Or is he just too much in denial?
Scene 4 – security guard at the office reclined on a sofa. The building is empty except for me and him. Is cctv all that’s making me feel safe? Or is it his occasional checks on me? Or is it his taking away the earphones as I approach the door? Or is it just his greeting and enquiring if I’d be there the next day?
Scene 5 – an auto rickshaw in urban Kerala. The mobile app is screwed and I am struggling to make him understand how to ‘fully’ quit an app and reopen it. App lights up and we begin our journey. Visibly distant to conversations I initiate, he looks new to the city, with his distinct slang. I get down a bit too away from home so that he finds his way out of the maze quickly. I explain the route and walk home. And I turn back to see him still parked where he dropped me off. I walk again and turn back again. He is still there till I take the last turn and out of his sight. Then I hear him accelerate and go his way. Was he looking out?
At one point or the other, do we not all want to be in some kind of list? List of students who move on to the next class in school. List of students who got into the prestigious college. List of people who can buy land in Mars. List of people who survived an accident. List of people who would make it through one more day. Endless lists of endless things. Endless feats. 30 under 30, 40 under 40, 50 under 50… but why? Lists give you a sense of accomplishment. Ticking every item, striking off each accomplishment – a list is a definitive way of measuring success at a personal level. Impersonal lists may or may not be definitive, but they still are a means to see how far you have reached.
Sometimes I wonder how cool would it be to be actually featured in some ’20 under 20′ or ’30 under 30′ list. It would feel super amazing I suppose. 20 under 20 is gone and 30 under 30 is also slowly slipping away. Never mind though. 40s and 50s are right there intact. Okay, now it sounds very weird. It’s almost like I believe there has been any such actual accomplishment in life. To clear things up, that wasn’t quite the intention of this intro. I am only trying to put my thoughts about lists and their relevance in our lives.
You and I – we all have lists. From grocery to daily to-dos – the list of lists is endless. Do you often wonder how these lists take control of our lives? Marking things on it and striking them off are so satisfying, aren’t they? The feeling of accomplishment of something. And it is all that we all live for. Some mental lists, some paper lists, some unwritten lists – reminders on the things to chase for. It is fascinating how aimless one feels without a list of action items. What happens to free will and thinking on the feet? Oh well, they do exist. But almost always enveloped by a big picture of some bucket list or to- do.
There were times in life when I had more than 3 to-do planners. With groups and folders and RAG status and what not. I still have some of those kind. But all of them are for work. I’m too scared to keep one for myself these days. It just feels like a blaring proclamation of my failure to strike things off them. Or some such weird thought. And lost in that fear and uncertainty, I guess I’m just missing out on some really fulfilling moment of life. Exactly like so many other moments in life.
P. S. This is a writing I’ve been working on for some months now. With many interruptions and excuses, I managed to delay this forever to be published. Ironically, this one strikes one thing off my ‘not-written- down’ list – write away with an endless expanse of ocean outside the window! Last word written exactly in time before my last day with this view – oddly satisfying!
I ran a month-long race and won against myself. I took up a challenge and wrote for 30 continuous days – scribbled would be a better word. Every productive activity must have some takeaway. So what are my key takeaways from 30 days of blogging?
Don’t repeat this stupidity. The challenge eventually makes blogging a chore more than the passion to write.
That being said, find some other excuse to write. Perhaps, start some series similar to the travel diaries or book reviews done in the past.
Every random thought in life deserves a spot. Today’s stupidity might become tomorrow’s wisdom. Write away without reservations. You’re the most important reader.
There were random comments and likes (apart from the ‘spammers’) on the blog from within the WordPress community. What I realised on visiting their sites: Good content is all around you. You just need the eyes for them.
I don’t really have a 5th takeaway. But 5 is a round figure! Give in to your random pleasures like compulsive writing. It pays off in the long run.
All that said, will I come back to blog again tomorrow? I highly doubt it. But I’d frequent the space more often than before. Until then!
The deliberate will not take sides, will be impartial and consult the men of law (before judging) – such is the way to ensure justice.
It was a purely random flip of a page verse, but is invariably relevant in the world of today. The Kural is “Thirukural” for its omniscience and ever growing relevance after all! Continuing my sojourn of exploring the words of wisdom, see you often with such insightful verses.
Recently, the most stupid decision that I took was the 30-day blogging challenge with myself. I’m glad I didn’t invite anyone else into the challenge and put that person through the torture of reading what I write. The last couple of days whatever I wrote isn’t the best of me. Not just that, some of them are even utterly horrible. Somewhere between this challenge, I started looking at this as just another chore of the day. Somewhere, I did lose the spark of thoughts and the fluidity of words. Almost mid-way now, should I let go of this challenge then? After all, the content is bullshit. But no, I’m not letting go. Think of a sport you enjoyed before the Lockdown. Or a regular activity you did outside of your routine. You miss them now, I’m sure. And once the lockdown is lifted, you’d want to rush back to that routine of yours. With no practice for the last couple of months, would you have your best shot right away? A little warm up and some extra effort would make all the difference there. So is the case with my writing. This 30-day challenge is indeed with myself. To make me convinced that I can resume writing – write without a pause. Perhaps not the worst decision eh!
I was probably 10-12 years old when East Coast Vijayan released his music album series – Ninakkai, Aadyamai, Ormakkai, Swantham (For you, For the first time, For remembrance, Yours truly). Music albums had only started being a ‘thing’ then, atleast in Malayalam. Despite how long it has been, I find myself humming these lines quite randomly even today. The image of the hero and heroine of the album and their poetic love have made a very deep memory in my mind. Though I’ve relished many other romantic poems and versatile lyricists, East Coast Vijayan and his trio series pop out of nowhere every time. Being the first has such lasting impressions. It is just not about music for me. I seem to remember an unnecessary load of things from the past that I just can’t get rid of. I remember my first (and only) dentist, first hospitalisation, first time of hearing about someone’s death, first burn, first conversation with my longest standing friend (it has been 24 years), first news of heartbreak (I very clearly remember how my mom broke the news to me – that I won’t be the only apple of their eyes – that’s 20 years again). Just too many of first time memories – all well before I was 10 or 12. There’s nothing really wrong about remembering things. I remember the good and the bad equally – from random conversations to life altering moments. But I wish a part of it just fades away. I don’t want to feel the pang of nostalgia every time I hear a music, see a person, be at a place or notice the date. Ah dates – don’t even get me started! You remember your birthday. Family’s. Friends’. Significant other’s. Some anniversaries. Some deaths. Maybe some more. Do you remember the birthday of a colleague you worked with barely for a year? Do you remember the anniversary of your distant cousin? Death anniversary of a relative you never really knew? Naming ceremony of your neice? Birthdays of classmates whose faces you’ve forgotten? Well, I do. And that is such a painful experience. You remember it’s special for someone today, but you don’t even care about it sometimes. It is an ugly reminder of some memories from the past and some people you’ve lost on the way. It’s just a memory of your memories.
By no means does this mean that I’ve a stellar memory. I forget routine stuff like a normal person. I can’t find a book I read and cherished just a year ago. I misplaced the title ‘Lessons in Forgetting’ by Anita Nair and it’s frustrating!