Sunday, February 12

29 lives

Last night I sat basking in the yellow red patch of my living room it struck me. I had lived my 29th year.

Twenty eight of them. passed by. like a train chugging on the tracks through a sluggish town.

When I was 19 I couldn’t imagine being 29. I thought it will not happen to me. somehowI would escape the clawing talons of age. of receed. of decay.

Somehow I would turn the clock backwards.

At 19, I looked at all 29s who weren’t rock stars, actors , or public figures as people who had missed the mythical bus to El Dorado.

At 21, I was scared of missing it myself.

I freelanced for Times those days after college. I read up Graham Greene and Michael Odjante at the British Library. I taught street kids on weekends in a not -ambitious -and -not- bothered- NGO in Patna. I savored Golgappas at the Boring Road Crossing once in a while. Yet there was a sinking feeling that guys around were taking a mythical bus to El dorado. And I did not have tickets.

And I walked out on home. On a taken- for- granted- life. On care.

Even at 24, when I entered the precincts of adult world with lot of Organisational Behavior models stuck in my head, being 29 something was a reality for the lesser celebrated mortals.

And then the 29th year slithered its way into my life. Without intimation. Much less a warning.

Last Sunday when the clock struck 12 and when loved ones popped the proverbial champagne I felt 29th year permeated my yellow red living room.

I saw it sitting in my favorite alcove, reading my copy of “100 years of solitude”.
I saw it sipping champagne, smiling victoriously at my don quixotic “it-will-not-happen- to me- thoughts.
I saw it in my giggles that give in to my restrained smiles.
I saw it in my held – back self when a loved one hugged me.
It stood there between a world – that- was- to- be and a world- that - became.
It stood there as though it was always there, like the first form of life that walked the earth centuries ago.

And yet I survived the ogre.

I had fought back the ogre of recede, the demagogue of decay.

It could read my book, sip my wine, infringe on my space but it could not do some things.

It could not stop me from loving.

I can still love.
Life. People. Colors. Stories. Acts of courage. My country. Parts of my HR job.
I can still feel something stirring inside me when Rekha surrenders to Amitabh saying “Teri bahoon mein hein janaam jismo jaan peghaal ke”
I can croon bad poetry into vodka laden nights with drunk eyes and still trust to be dropped back home safely. Also without any complaint.
I can still cry when I watch the movie “Daddy”
I can still chat to this class mate from school and laugh about who we have become and who we have not.
I can still feel excited about wasting a Sunday on buying silver jewelry which I would in all likelihood never wear.
I can still write pages and pages of script for a documentary I do not have time to make.
I can still write chapters of my book that I want the world to read some day.
I can still love madly.
And now I wait eagerly to be 40. The countdown has begun.