It was raining when I stepped out of the office last evening. Not hard, just a windy spray.
My first thought was - the autowallahs will charge double... and then, another tiny voice outshouted the first- you are a writer, a romantic, a born poet, of course you'll walk in the rain, you'll walk to the bus stop and take a bus, and feel the rain invigorating every corner of your tired soul...
So that was that, and the professional-with-a-poet's-heart turned her face heavenward, smiled and the black-blue sky, and began her walk in the rain.
Except, it was windier than I thought, and very soon the gentle hum of the drizzle turned into the roar of a downpour, and i was drenched through my thin summer-y kurta. The roads had water-logged, and walking was replaced by wading. The slush of garbage, usually at home on the sidewalks, had taken the opportunity to discover what the middle of the road might be like. There was no bus at the bus stop, and I had to wait a good quarter hour for one to come along, meanwhile the wind numbed me to my intestines. The bus was very very crowded, everybody was wet, and the smell in general was that of wet underwear and rotting vegetables. The bus belly-crawled through the city, picking up other hapless individuals in drenched throngs, and I was so late that I missed F.R.I.E.N.D.S, and what more, the calling bell gave me such an electric shock that i was thrown backwards.
This got me thinking. There is often such a gap between what we like to think of ourselves, and what we really are. Sometimes we fall through the gap, sometimes we leap over it, but its there and very often we don't even notice.
I, allegedly an agent of chaos, like to think of myself as someone who is neat and organized, and so I bought myself a really groovy planner (the first 28 pages of which I've already filled with equally groovy sketches).
A very dear friend of mine, a gentle Rabindrasangeet person whose only exposure to music in the English language till last year was, for some reason, Seal's Kiss From A Rose, suddenly saw himself as a hard rock addict, and took it upon himself to progressively listen to all ... err.. music? under the hard/metal/death genre. I suspect its for the same reason that at the age of 28, he has begun experimenting with cannabis and woodstock like concerts (free booze dope & sex, folks).
But even as he head-bangs wildly, something inside nags him constantly- what would ma-baba think if they knew?
Another very close buddy, a self-proclaimed misogynist, went through a heart-ache and suddenly began to think of himself as a suave lady-killer. He began socializing, turned into quite a party animal, and was thronged by women of all ages who promptly fell in love with him (women love misogynists). Unfortunately, he is still women-shy at heart, and would probably have be shunted to an asylum somewhere if I weren't there to save his neck.
Another friend, who was very much a Saas-Bahu lover, suddenly began to believe herself a cultured intellectual, and made a project of going to see all the famous plays that were going around in her city. Sadly, a conversation with her made it very clear that she couldn't make head or tail of what the plays meant, and was for most parts bored. But she still goes. It's how she sees herself, see.
An inflated self-perception can take you higher than you were ever destined to go (I cleared CS, didn't I?). A deflated one might hold you back your whole life. A wrong one, however, just keeps you miserable, directionless, and continuously at odds with your real self.
Or, in my case, very very wet.
PS- my apologies to the aforementioned friends , who I know will recognize themselves and be vehement in their disagreement of my analysis. You guys are probably right. It's time I stopped seeing myself as a scholar of the human nature.
Amritorupa Kanjilal also writes at Rivers I Have Known: Books, Reviews, and More. Please visit her there!