At the end of this tiring day, I return to my room from the office. After putting my tiffin into the sink, I open the fridge to get the water bottle only to realize that all the bottles I have been lying on the kitchen platform. One more day and I understand how much different it is to live away from home, away from family.
It is not the water bottle that made me think this. It is the piling up of the same thought that I have been having so many times that pushed me into thinking about how the professionals of our generation are living all by themselves and how often they are willing to go back to their families either to visit or to stay. Is the money that I am earning really worthy of the life I am living? I ate Maggi thrice last week and just to avoid it, and cooking too, I kept ordering food from restaurants. On one side, the sick leave policy sucks and I can’t be sick, but on the other side, I have just stopped taking care of myself for the sake of transient presentations, analysis and “career objectives for the year”.
And in this ever-lasting silence, the microwave decides to pour some noise. My “instant premix” tea is ready. I pour it into the cup thinking how thankful I am for this microwave that never fails in pulling me out of these thoughts.
It’s a Friday evening and I don’t have to go to the office for two more days. I smile. Getting a packet of chips to have with tea, I move to the sofa chair that would win the gold in the race of “the place I stay for most of the time on a Friday night”.
I open my laptop which hasn’t been shut down for weeks and snoozes the request from Windows to update the OS. I am sure it is my laptop pleading me to let it refresh and restart. But I can’t do that right now as I have put my phone into charging and if I let my laptop go into the update, what will I do for the next 15-20 minutes?
I open YouTube, start some of my favourite music and start browsing social media. One more friend from my school has gotten married. My mind tempts me to just ignore the post but I should not as this stupid Facebook will keep showing me this post till I like it and comment “congratulations (in red)”.
One thing that this wedding update post never fails to do is to make me close the tab and move on to something else. And it is time to connect to my Friday night date. You must have guessed it right. It’s chilling time with Netflix. I recall which series this colleague was talking about and decide to sacrifice one more night of my life to the gems of fiction. “Money Heist” it is. I start it and that is when I realize that “my favorite” music was on. And also, my tea has become cold now. (I wonder whether I keep the music on because I like it or because I hate this silence!)
I go back into the kitchen, heat up my tea and listen to some chattering coming in from my balcony. I move into the balcony to see this kid from my society screaming in joy because his dad finally bought him a nice MRF bat. I move my eyes away from this and see a couple walking down the road holding cigarettes in their hands. Well! I don’t smoke. So yeah, the joke’s on them. I am taking care of my body. (And then before my mind reminds me of the Gym subscription I have paid and the number of days I actually went there, I get distracted by the shining headlights of the cars running on the road)
I scan the road till it decides to end and take the turn, I think of what would make me scream in joy just like that young kid with the MRF bat. I know the answer and at times, we all have thought of this. Wouldn’t it be the best if right this moment, a cab would stop right below your balcony, the windows would open and your ears would get to listen to the divine voice coming out of the taxi: “Beta, come down. Help us with the luggage”. You would see your parents giving you a surprise visit since you were so busy the whole week that you couldn’t even find time to talk to them even for a minute (well, if my not calling for a week would bring them here every now and then, I would happily give up on my phone!) My face would light up, and with wet eyes, I would just run down the hall, to the door and to the lift. I wouldn’t even be able to wait for the lift. Running down the stairs, I would hold the cab door for them and hug them forever. And I am sure the first thing my mom would say when she sees me will be: “Are you eating or not! See how thin you have become!”. I guess my mom would always find me thin even though the weighing scale would have shown a 5kg increase the very same morning. With all the food she would have brought from home, she’d continue: “Okay. Don’t worry. See what I have brought for you from home. Your favourite sweets!”. “And your dinner too!”, would say, my Dad, standing right there clicking pictures of Mom and me with wet eyes. He would ask: “Will I get the hug or not, son? I know I didn’t cook anything for you but….”. And I would take that small 5-meter sprint saying “Oh Dad! Stop it.” to hug the proud father who, I remember, once didn’t buy a new pair of pants on Diwali because I wanted a cricket bat.
And there it is. The silence breaker of my house. The microwave beeps again to let me know that this weekend I am still here, alone and I have to wait one more week before I get to go home for a long vacation break.
I just go to my room, take the phone out of charging and call home. I have all my answers ready. “Did you have dinner?” Yes. “Did you eat properly?” (drinking tea) Yes, Mom. The stomach is full now. “We are missing you.” I know. “I know you too are.” (Silence) “It is just six days left for your vacation to start”. Yes, yes. I know… Mom… Did you all have your dinner? ”Yes, son.” How was your day, Mom? “It was good. Let me give the phone to Dad.” Hi Dad. She is crying, right? “Yes, son. But don’t worry.” (Silence) “We are proud of you, son.” (About to cry) “By the way, we have found a very smart and beautiful girl for you.” Oh! Come on, Dad. I don’t want to get married.
He knows how to change the topic. He knows that was the need of the moment. He doesn’t want me to cry. He knows how to stop me from crying. He knows me more than I do.
Let me stand up, rush back inside, open laptop and glue myself to this fake entertainment of Netflix. I need to chill. Let me laugh. Let me just hide all this chaos going in my mind with the recorded audience laughs in these stupid episodes. Let me just lock myself in this palace of illusions. One more weekend. One more week. Time passes by.
Someone has rightly said:
“Zindagi ka falsafa bhi ki kitna Ajeeb hai,
Shamein Katti nahi aur saal Guzarte jaa rahe hain.“
Till next time, Ciao!
-Arjuna@War (Parth Shah)