Saturday, December 13, 2008

Roller Coaster

Warning : Serious Material Alert!

A year ago, it would have been difficult to imagine this scene - nay, I would have betted a hell lot against the specific sequence of events happening which would make me land up here, in the balcony of my room in the IIM Kozhikode hostels, watching the rising sun paint yet another stunning morning. Another long night has passed by, unfortunately just literally. Otherwise, I continue to wait.

They say life changes dramatically at times, events happen at a pace which leave you gasping for breath. It has been that sort of a year. Maybe the start was a sign of things to come. I start the new year with a fight in the wee hours. A sort of fight which leaves me wondering where we have reached and where we are heading. Time, (un)fortunately, does not offer me the comfort of delving into these matters, and they are shrugged off and (semi-) forgotten in the bustle of everyday life. There is a job to do, exams to give, a career to plan, back-up options to explore. I have a lot on my plate, I assume some things will fall into place due to the inherent strength of the foundations they have been built upon. Assumptions are silly things, lulling you into a false sense of confidence and comfort.

I vividly remember, 8th January, the day of the CAT results, when I spent a nervous day flying into and out of Delhi, and presenting our business proposal to a huge set of foreign delegates. Every other moment I checked my on-silent-mode phone for any call, any message about the results. I eventually found out about my LIK calls only the next morning.

The rest of the month passed in a blur, preparing for the calls, putting in long hours at work. 31st of January, and I watched the sun set on the outlines of Pune city on the horizon, shining through the haze and smog, on my way back from a business trip. There was something menacing about it, as if warning me of the dark night that would follow the twilight which, itself had followed the soft, golden light of the evening. I tried to shrug it off, telling myself not to be irrational, setting suns don't tell you anything. A bad phone call, another semi-fight, and I looked outside the window in frustration. Darkness was, indeed, falling rapidly. But that it would fall this rapidly, I had no clue.

There are incidents which you remember all your life, good ones, bad ones, but when you try recollecting what exactly happened, you go blank. February 1st was one such day. A normal day at office, followed by an evening which leaves me clutching for support to this day. There are moments in life when you reach a state where you are completely, totally, helpless, comprehensively defeated, with nowhere to go and nothing to hang on to. There are, thankfully, rare, most of the time. MOST of the time. I was having an entire set of them, bunched together in a nice period of 20 odd months. So much that I have begun to dread not the reason for those moments, but the moments in themselves. You learn to grapple with most of the stuff that comes your way, but it's those first moments, when it hits you is what is dreadful.

They say, what you get in life, what you do, whatever comes your way is all destiny. Some things are meant to be, some aren't. I was never a strong believer in this philosophy. The next 3 months, the fellow up there concentrated solely on proving me wrong about this. A series of events which put together would put a bollywood story to shame. It was as if there was a direct challenge from God - you can do WHATEVER you want, exactly THIS will happen. Exactly THAT happened. It was unbelievable. It was like he was sending me a message - just go with the flow - when it's meant to be, it will. Why couldn't I accept it and apply it to other things in life? I almost did. 3 blissful months when all that I saw was the the future. But these things have a weird way of getting back to you.

A month of here-or-there, and I land up in IIM Kozhikode. New place, new phase of life, new people, a new routine, a new purpose, a new destiny, all seemed enough to push the demons in my head way, way into the blurred past. As expected, I was overwhelmed, I was ecstatic, I was sleeping 3 hours a night and yet I was as happy as I can ever remember myself being. Life rocked. It was a fantastic place, with fantastic people, something which lakhs of people yearn to be doing.

Unfortunately, you adapt. You get used to things. You learn to manage them, as tough as they can get. You evolve. You fight for your space, your piece of time to think freely about what you want to. And then it all starts coming back. And you realize that it hardly matters. Your location, what you are doing, the people around you hardly matter, when the devil is inside your head. And slowly but surely, it takes you back into the labyrinth, through turns and twists which you pass and instantly understand that you will not remember on the way back.

I don't know where I am today. The IIM calls, the breakup, the interviews in that zombied, auto-pilot mode, the remarkable strokes of luck during them, the converting of almost all calls, the month where I drove myself up the wall trying to choose between the head and the heart, the 2-3 months when the high made me forget reality, the struggle to cope academically, and the eventual relapse. A soft wind blows, laden with the freshness of a hill-station morning, bringing me back into the present, into reality. The sun has risen higher into the sky, shining brightly into my east-facing room. Another delusion of light, another false but well-lit path to trick me to follow. Campus is waking up, the first joggers of the day are out. I turn around and walk back into my room. It smells stale, of yesterday, stuffy and humid, lacking the crispness of the air outside. It smells of things known, things and events in the recent past. I want to stay outside, in the fresh air, but something, something which I cannot fight pulls me back inside. I close the balcony door, pull the curtains. Why do I insist on keeping the sunlight out? I switch on the fan, it starts churning the same old stale air, and slide under the covers.

Will the coming times give me the strength and the courage to fling the door open and take in a deep breath of fresh air, not turn back, not turn back till the door is open long enough, till the elements do their job? Till every blob of air hiding in the crevices of my room is dragged out and replaced with fresh, oxygen-filled, crisp mountain air?

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