It is raining outside. I sit by the side of window. The window glasses have gathered moisture and I cannot see what is going out clearly. But still I can feel it. I can hear the sound of drops of water rushing from the sky towards the ground. I am uneasy. I don’t know why. At times I feel I am pessimist and at times I am just anxious. There is very thin line between the two and it is difficult to differentiate. I am all alone. I feel more lonely when it rains. Rains are romantic, aren’t they? Then why am I feeling so terrible. Something is wrong. Something is missing. I am at that point of life, where complacency should not creep in. I am just thirty one with good fortune and I am divorced. Let us not go into the reasons of latter. My mother wants me to get remarried and I want to have kids. But still I am anxious of getting into any alliance. My mother had called me this morning to remind me that I have to go to her house this Sunday without fail, where we are going to see a girl. Forgive me for the choice of words but that is the term in vogue for many many years and it is really difficult to have a more sophisticated choice of words. How do two people meet in a chaos of parents, uncles, aunties and cousins, spend few minutes with each other in private and take the most important decision of their lives? I don’t understand. Yes, I had gone by the same route and got wounded. I don’t want to trample the same path again. If I have got an another chance, I would love to take the road which I have less travelled. Love marriage. My friends who are already fathers and mothers of five years old laugh at me. “There is nothing like romance, there is only marriage,” they tell me when they wait for a smoke and tell their wives over the phone that they are busy in an urgent meeting which was called by the boss impromptu. “Find a nice girl and get married. Have children and you will be happy. Don’t think too much. Don’t expect too much.”
The rains don’t seem to stop. I hanker to have a cup of tea. I go to my tiny kitchen. The kitchen looks darker due to the black clouds. I notice stains on the marble tiles of the kitchen platform for the first time. Some of them are blackish, some just oily and most of them yellowish. I place the pan on the stove. I open the fridge to find milk. There is no milk. I decide to have black tea and boil the decoction. I come to the drawing room with my tea and switch on the TV. News is all that I see. I know the news that I see doesn’t make any real difference to my life. But still I see them just as my middle class parents saw. The news channels are telecasting the news of landslides in some remote rural parts of Maharashtra. Everybody is claiming their ground zero reports to be exclusive. The land slide has provided them fodder which will last for at least a week. The pictures depicting one village throbbing with life being reduced to rubble of stone and mud are disturbing. The young anchor is busy describing the mass funeral of the twenty one dead bodies removed from the debris in detail. I remember my father’s funeral. My father died all of a sudden of a heart attack. I was just twenty one then. I could not believe that my father would never wake up again. He was gone forever. Since then I am insecured about every relationship of mine. I feel that death would snatch every person with whom I get close. I feel I will die any time. What is the use of having lofty dreams then? I felt that this would just be a passing phase. But it wasn’t. It has been more than ten years after my father’s death, but still I don’t trust life.
The news channel move to display pictures of a young woman and her four month old child who were rescued from the debris. They were buried for more than twenty eight hours and yet escaped the nightmare without a single scratch. The sight of the baby changes my mood. Babies carry so much of optimism with them. I feel a bit better. I am happy that still there is something green within me. I switch off the television and go and stand in the porch. Suddenly even the blackest of the clouds appear beautiful to me. I notice the stalk of grass dangling in glee. My entire garden, the open space in front of my house, is wearing a greenbelt. What I call my garden is actually a pasture land. When the rains will stop, the cows standing under the expanse of the big banyan tree will come again to graze. The bells in their necks will crinkle. There is so much innocence in nature. Why? Nature thinks only about today. It lives in the moment. It doesn’t label things, places, people and situations as good, bad or grey. Yes I know that. I have read that so many times. But I am human and I accept myself most of the times, if not always.
The phone rings. I go inside the house and pick the phone. It is my mother. She enquires as to whether it rained in Bandhihole. I tell her yes and describe the meadows I had just witnessed. She asks me not to get wet and change my clothes immediately in case I don’t listen to her. “Wipe your head properly.” She tells me. This is what makes me love her in spite of all the differences that we have. She lives in Mumbai alone. She is very social person. She loves to talk. She will tell the same thing several times in the same conversation and that is what irritates me the most. Seeing that I am irritated she says, “I am going to talk less.” “What is the need to say that?” I ask her. She doesn’t take words seriously, no matter whether they come from her mouth or mine. She continues to tell me seventh time over the phone that her sister Shashi, my aunt had called her and told her that her son-in-law has purchased a flat at Pune. I just nod my head and listen to her in patience. I had read somewhere that to be a good parent, you have to be patient. But still I guess I am not qualified to be a good parent. I ask her not to tell the same things again and again. She finally hangs up.
It becomes dark. It is still raining. Now I can see nothing from the window. I step out of the door in a hopeless hope of seeing the green meadows again. But gone is the greenery, grazing cows and innocence of the nature. It is pitch dark outside. The power goes off. I come into the house and bolt the door from inside. I don’t have an inverter. Bandhihole is a remote place. I plan to buy one when I go to the district place. But I get little time to go to the district place. My work consumes my most of time. I teach the villagers all about environment. The NGO with whom I work bears the little expenses which I have in this quaint village. It has been a year that I am living in Bandhihole. No friends, no family. I am all alone here. To be honest I love this loneliness. It brings me closer to myself. Yes at times I lose control. But still I love being alone. No birthday parties no marriages to attend. No social obligations and no need to adhere to expected social norms. Its fine here if I don’t shave daily. It’s alright if I wear a crumpled shirt. I can have the pleasure of bathing late or skipping the path. No hurry to reach office in time and get the card punched. No peer pressure of fitting in. I am much happier here than I was in my college. Yes, did I tell you that I was teaching at a college in Mumbai? I loved teaching that is all I can say. Please don’t ask for more.
With nothing to do I slump into the bed. The thoughts of marrying again keep coming. Mind plays all the games. I get married and stay happily forever with two children of mine. In another game, I get a wife with terrible temper. Again I decide not to marry only to construct the faces of my grandchildren in my mind. The dilemma continues.
I sit erect in my bed and start meditating. Becoming a Sadhu appears to be the only option available which will guarantee me peace of mind. But I have a mother. I cannot think of being a Sadhu. I feel jealous of those mendicants who travel in ecstasy with no worries of family. I wish I could afford that kind of luxury. I know I can’t. But I wish I could.
I come back to my mundane world and think of the things that bother me. I am supposed to teach the villagers all about reducing plastic wastage the next day. In this village and villages nearby plastic is considered as a sign of modernity. There are plastic bags everywhere. If you have one you are smart. If you offer eatables in plastic plates you are educated. I don’t know wherefrom the villagers gathered all these impressions. But they do carry them is a reality. My previous speeches about reducing plastic usage replay in mind with every minute detail, with expressions on the faces of the villagers and their inappropriate laughter too. Some time in midnight sleep drowns me.
To be continued...