Tag Archives: lessons

Of A Bright Little Dark Story

“I want to be a failure in life,” she spoke slowly.

Against the backdrop of enticing beauty of majestic fountains and dense forests, her words never echoed. Yet, she spoke them again. Clearly. Slowly. Waiting for someone at the other end of the cliff to hear her and say the same.

But nobody did.

Of course, nobody would. Everyone wanted to be successful at life. Who would even want to be a failure!

“I want to be a failure in life,” she said again.

The vast emptiness that stretched above her was soon merging into a gorgeous shade of dark. The sun had gone down. The breeze slowly danced to some unheard rhythm. And Venus glimmered across the horizon.

She was supposed to be scared. She was supposed to stand up, get away from the steep cliff and return back home. She had been afraid of heights. She had been afraid of the dark. She had always wanted to be in the light. Strangely, that evening, the cold and the dark didn’t bother her. The steepness of the jagged rocks on which she sat, didn’t worry her. She knew that it was better there. The illusion of merry and peace that she had built right in front of her eyes was far better than the reality that awaited her on the other side of the world.

“I want to be a failure in life,” she spoke for the umpteenth time that evening  and yet again, there wasn’t an echo.

How she wished somebody would hold her hand and tell her that she wasn’t alone. She couldn’t take the competition. She couldn’t keep up with the expectations of people around her. They all wanted her to be a winner. They all wanted her to be at the top, never having a fall. And she was slowly making them lose their faith in her. Each time she was trying to get up, she was falling.

She was scared. Right around her, she watched people fight their way to the end. She watched people with dreams glimmering in their eyes, not giving up until they reached their goal. She watched people fall and then pick themselves up. And it scared her to know that her determination was not enough. That she was never going to get anywhere in life.

She could never be a winner, she felt. Instead of keeping people in dark hopes, she believed that it would be better if she became a failure in life. Nobody would place their deepest faith in her. Nobody would be bothered. And she could just walk. Peacefully. Without having to feel sad.

“I want to be a failure in life!” she spoke again, loudly. Again, there wasn’t a single voice that followed back. “Doesn’t anyone want to be a failure? Why does everybody want to be a winner? What’s so great about winning, anyway? The struggle continues, despite the wins and the losses.”

“The struggle continues, despite the wins and the losses,” someone uttered back finally.

She stood up and took a step back. She understood. The “winning” and “losing” were transient. They were like the waves that arrived at the shore and then retreated. The struggle to get somewhere – that was only constant. The struggle to reach the final destination – that was constant. There were going to be ups and downs. Sometimes, there’d be a high tide or two. On other days, sunshine. The storm didn’t always last.

That night, when she got back home and fell asleep, she dreamt of the sunshine that was about to arrive. Deep in her heart, she knew and she believed.

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Of Returning Home

The train jerks to a halt, the metal wheels screeching against the rails, momentarily piercing through the drone of noises in the station. Picking up my duffel bag and grabbing the door handle to steady myself, I stare out at the maddening crowd of people all around.

Hawkers and taxi drivers and stationmasters and masses of men – it surprises me as to how the ground doesn’t crumble under their weight.

Stepping out of the train into the light of a scorching autumn sun, I take a moment to look around and breathe in the air. A smell if roasted peanuts coupled with a faint aroma of lemon oil teases the breeze.

Somewhere a hawker screams at the stray dogs that are running away with s piece of his bread. To my right, a coolie picks up the luggage of an old Lady, wincing under the weight of the blue suitcases. He complains and asks her to pay more as he starts walking, dragging the other bag behind him. Somewhere far away, a little boy sells newspapers, shrieking wildly, running after every person, hoping they’d buy a copy.

Silence is evasive as a xerox machine next to a shop, whirs and clicks, throwing sheets of paper all around. The owner shouts at the boy who is serving customers at the counter and he immediately comes to the rescue. Together, they slam the metal top to shut the machine.

Heels click against the gravel pavement. A little boy who us wearing a pair of oversized bunny slippers, jumps on every drying puddle, clapping his hands in excitement.

It is an unusually noisy Sunday.

But amidst all this, I find a deep sense of oblivion.

Nobody seems bothered. Everyone walks their own wat, occasionally stopping by to take a look here and there. Children hold on to their mothers, tight, while the men load the luggage into the train. Some people are leaving while some are returning back from where they had arrived.

As the evening air quietly blows, I can’t help but spread my arms and take a deep breath. It smells of home.

As if on cue, a frail man dressed in a pair of white pants and a grey shirt, approaches me.

“Madam ji,” he says. “Are you looking for a taxi?”

A slight gasp of surprise leaves my mouth as I withdraw my hands and shove them into the pockets of my overcoat.

“Why,yes!” I reply him after some time.

“Where to?” he asks but doesn’t wait for a reply. Instead, he picks up my bag and motions me to follow him.

“I’ve parked my taxi just there,” he talks as he manoeuvres around the people who’ve fallen asleep on the platform.

As we walk past the swirling rush of people, hearing a plethora of noises zooming into a drone, I can’t help but feel a strange peace within me. The noises don’t affect me.

With a slight spring in my steps, I walk out of the station into the slightly thick air of the parking lot. Every second fills my heart with profound happiness.

I watch him put my bags at the back of the car. Before he gets inside the taxi, he motions me to take the backseat.

Pulling open the door, I glance back at the station again. It seems as if it is moving away from me with each passing second.

Soon, I tell myself, I’ll be home. The little daisies in the garden will greet me and a bowl of corn soup will be waiting at the table.

Mom will be sitting in the living room, sipping in her usual cup of tea and flipping through the pages of some random magazine. Outside, on the street, my brother will be playing with his friends, crying in joy with the other children. And Dad will be glued to the TV screen, watching the latest political debate. They will be waiting for me. They will be calling to each other and sneaking glances at the clock, waiting for me to ring the bell. And when I will, they will rush to the door and hug me like there will be no tomorrow.

“Madam ji,” the driver’s gruff voice breaks me from my train of thought. “Where to?”

Slipping into the backseat and peeling down the windows, I feel the same air brush against my face again.

“Home,” I say and he smiles.

Of What I Never Told My Friends

I’m travelling in a crowded bus as I write this. And no, it isn’t like they always describe – sweltering heat and grumbling people – in fact, though it isn’t that great an experience, it isn’t that bad, either.

Sandwiched between the metal rods of the window and a heavy woman who is reading a Stephen King book, I watch the group of teenagers in front of me. One of them, a short girl with raven black locks, in her pair of faded jeans a loose shirt, is busy pulling away the earphones from a boy who is probably one of her friends. Beside them, there is another girl who is talking feverishly with the girl who sits cuddled in the furthest corner, pressed against the window. She is hearing but her eyes are trained on the duo who are arguing over the earphones. An occasional smile lights up her pale face, causing her friend to smack her on the head and demand her to listen.

I quietly turn away from them and look outside the window where the scenes are gradually fading from ordinary reality of the town to infinite possibilities.

The crisp late February air hits my face, almost numbing my senses, but I can still hear their voices, loud and clear. Though I can’t figure out what they are talking about, the one thing that is clear is, they are happy.

It reminds me of those days when school had been a daily affair. I find myself remembering that perhaps the only reason I used to wake up with so much enthusiasm on winter mornings was because of my friends. Each day, after returning from school, I’d wait eagerly for the next day so that I could get to meet my friends again. Though very little things happened in a span of six hours, at school, I found myself talking with my friends for long, discussing every insignificant detail of the day. It was strange – of how we always used to have something to talk about, no matter what.

As the bus moves over a bump, collective groans rise from everyone. The bunch of friends in front of me make dramatic noises, and then burst out laughing at their antics. A smile crosses my lips as I remember the days when I went for picnic trips with my friends. The miles never bothered us. Hours were spent gossiping, singing like badly trained artists, pulling out pranks on each other and laughing on senseless jokes! Before we would know it, the journey would have come to an end.

I see my friends in them. I see us laughing and crying and calling each other at night, discussing boys and homework and what not!

A silly grin lights up my face and I shake my head, remembering the weird conversations we used to have.

Almost immediately, it is replaced by a frown as I remember the bitter memories I’ve had with them – when they broke my trust; when they left me alone.

The bus wobbles slightly and the woman beside me, almost squeezes me into the damp corner, but I don’t mind. I’m too lost in my train of thoughts to know that the bus has come to a halt and the conductor is calling to me.

“Madam?” he shouts in his thick Bengali accent, causing me to snap out of my trance.

“I-I am so so sorry!” I tell him as I pick up my bag and manage to make my way to the exit door.

Before stepping down, however, I turn around and take a look at the bunch of friends and find their eyes trained on my movements. A smile threatens to burst, but I press my lips together tightly and get off the bus. It would’ve been so weird to smile at a bunch of teenagers!

As I walk down the street, the gravel scratching against the sole of my heels, I remind myself never to wear those shoes again.

I cross a nursery school and the little children, loitering around the gate, wave at me and I wave back.

I don’t have schools to look forward to. In a few months, I’ll be heading for college and the entire idea of a new place, of new people, makes me nervous and afraid. Having changed so many schools, I have learnt that distance does make things worse. Your friends will start fading away and then, there will be a day when you meet each other at a shopping mall and there will be no excitement.

As a teenager, I’ve always had a problem in placing my trust on people. It does take a lot of time, because after so many betrayals and the so-called “backbiting”, you know, for a fact that making friends and keeping them is a tough job. There are times when the people you trust the most, will leave you at your darkest times. And their places will be taken by utter strangers who will come to mean something more.

Now that I think about the friends I have who are still my friends, very few faces come to my mind. Along the way, I have lost people – so many beautiful people and my heart breaks in painful realization. A part of me wonders where they are now and if they remember me sometime. Then, I find myself thinking about the friends I’ve lost to numerous rumours and misunderstandings. I hope to find them some day and ask if things can go back to being the same again.

I realize that it’s not like you can protect yourself from getting hurt. Sometimes, unknowingly, you are going to hurt others. And then, there comes a point in everyone’s life, where you sit and think about all these times and what you could have done to keep those people close. Regrets. And that’s all a part of growing up, I presume.

Mom had once told me that friends are not people who will stick by your side always, but they’ll have your back.

Amidst the share of misunderstandings and hurt and happiness, I’ve come to realize that friends not only deserve second chances but also thirds and fourths. At times, we have to take a leap of faith. At times, we have to forgive them for all their mistakes and go back to being friends again. At times, we have to trust them with all our heart.

They will disappoint us.

And once upon a dark day, they will surprise us.