Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Person on Your Playlist

If you tell your girlfriend that she’s as beautiful as your favorite song, she will probably feel immensely pleased with the words of affection. She might call her best girl friend on her way back home, and then subtly mention the compliment somewhere in the middle of their conversation. One of them will follow it with “touchwood”, and the conversation will slowly fade into stories of other couples who could not make their relationships work. They will discuss how they could always see that the love between the couples in question wouldn’t last. “Understanding is important”, they’ll conclude, along with “respecting each other’s need for personal space” and “compatibility”.

You look up “how to make a relationship last” on Google. If you’re in a happy relationship yourself, you’ll mentally nod at each of the points that you read, telling yourself that both you and your partner are mature enough, and have already been unknowingly following all of the rules. Good job! But, if you’re someone who’s had a couple of relationships with not very beautiful endings, you’ll agree with yourself on how you followed each of those rules, and your ex is someone who’ll never know how to make a relationship work. Or, you could agree that both you and your partner followed the rules, but destiny wronged you.

I’m guilty of such pursuits on the internet, just like you. Maybe, you’re in a relationship for the past five years. Or maybe, your longest relationship didn’t last more than six months. You might be the same person in a relationship as someone who has spent eight long years in one and is still going strong. You might have had very understanding and equally mature partners. Yet, your relationships might’ve failed. It’s funny how, sometimes, following all the rules to make it to the summit of a cliff, doesn’t take you anywhere even close to the flat top of a neighboring plateau. “It’s complicated”, we call it. Maybe, it is.

It all starts with “feeling” the love in your whole body. Like the latest song on your playlist, you love how you cannot get enough of it. You dodge all your other friends, one by one, in continuous order, like you skip all the other songs on your list. This one song makes you feel ecstatic. It probably is the only song that you think you can never get sick of. You look up its lyrics on the internet, just like you delve deep into the person’s facebook timeline, to know every word, every detail of their being. You fish for remixes and feel lucky to realize that nothing beats the beauty of the original. You love the person for what he is, and the faults, if any, only make him that perfect for you.

New songs come and go, but your loyalty towards “the one” stays unperturbed. It’s no longer the only song you listen to, and the older tracks begin to frequent your music sessions again. But, it’s not a bad sign. It’s just a sign of balance; balance between friends, family and your partner. However, you can’t deny that you still listen to your favorite song five times a day. It’s the song that you like to begin your playlist with.

And someday, you decide not to begin your day with that song. Maybe give another song a chance; not necessarily new. You skip the song for a few days till you realize that it no longer serves a purpose on your music player. You’ve heard it so many times that after having kept it on the list, unheard, for quite a long time, you finally are detached enough to let it go. Now, don’t you think that lucky are the songs which never made it to being your “favorite one”? Because even though they never made it to the top of the music priority chart, they’re still there.

It’s crazy how the reason for that song becoming your favorite was a beautiful “feeling” that it gave you. And the reason for it no longer being on the list is that it doesn’t create a “feeling” in you anymore.

Maybe, it isn’t following the list of rules that is going to make your relationships work. Maybe, it’s only a matter of being conscious of the fact that not letting yourself be subordinate to your emotions will. Maybe, the image from the Gita of a chariot drawn by horses symbolizing the senses has some relevance. Maybe, love isn’t as much about the feeling that our grandparents or parents live with, each day of their lives. Maybe, it is more about fulfilling the duty of companionship that they’ve conquered through the years. Maybe, it’s about all the smiles, the frowns, the angry words, the distance and the closeness that come together in a package. Maybe, it’s not just a favorite song, but the whole playlist in itself.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Mask of Zukaam

I woke up with a sore throat in the morning. It hurt a little when I took in some dry gulps, still lying in my bed. I knew that my body temperature would rise above normal by evening. To confirm, I took another dry gulp. It hurt to the extent that I closed my eyes in sync with the gulp every time. I was sure of having caught the cold from dad at the office on the previous day. The thought of the slowly approaching fever was irritating me just as much as my brain, which by now was continuously sending signals to my throat to gulp. I mean, I don’t go around gulping for no reason all day long otherwise. But on days that it hurts to exercise one’s Adam’s apple, my body will purposely make it do some sit ups inside my neck, no matter how hard I try to stop it from doing so.

I popped in two tablets of Himalaya’s Septilin with half a glass of non-microwaved water, and kept hoping that the virus would die before it makes my eyes burn with fever. A hot shower and three aaloo paranthas with Amul Butter later, I left for the office.

After having replied to some important emails, I realized that somehow, the three or four tasks that I had been working on for the past week or two had been completed by the previous evening. So to avoid picking up a new assignment to start work on, I thought I’d put my managerial skills to test and go review some of the work that junior assistants had been working on. After an hour of satiating my ego by giving instructions to others on how to improve work, I came back to my work area and randomly opened folders on my laptop to look busy till lunch time. Staring into nothingness, I could feel my body warm up. The warmth of the impending fever slowly seemed so welcomed, that I could not understand why I didn’t wish to fall sick even once during this winter. Here, I had a chance to sit at home and rest my butt inside the razaai for at least two days, sip adrak wali chai, and praise the lord for a much needed break.

If you’ve read the Secret, you’d know that the strongest law in the world works on believing and then acting like you already have what you want. A religious practitioner of the law of attraction, I started meditating on the lump in my throat. The painful gulps immediately returned, and I didn’t stop myself from making motor sounds that would suggest to my colleagues that I’m having a hard time trying to clear my throat. A co-worker asked if I was alright, and I said that I could feel the onset of a fever. It felt so good to utter those words at that time! I started talking in a low voice, trying to constantly feel the pinch in my throat… and then, I really did feel like a sick man.

In a feeble voice, I asked for permission to go back home as I was feeling feverish, and the request was answered with a sympathetic nod. I immediately packed my bag and left the office. On my way back, I called up a few friends to chat and suddenly, my voice was as loud as the MCD Garbage Collection Van’s recorded music asking people to keep the city clean by dumping all the mess right into the van from their balconies, and spilling banana peels on the road for dogs to come and sniff at, later only to be chewed away by a hungry cow. Damn, I felt as awesome as having finally broken out of Shawshank!

Back home, I snuggled in my razaai and watched a movie, with the laptop resting on my chest, and the screen tilted to give me the best viewing angle. The things that would follow the movie were going to be even more awesome. Ginger tea. Facebooking in bed. Sending tweets to pretty girls. More than eight hours of sleep. Bliss! And, it has been just as good for the past two days.

I’m not alone in this, though. Giving me company during my break from work are strips of paracetamol tablets, lots of orange throat lozenges, empty cups of tea that leave beautiful brown circular patterns on the newspaper, a half-eaten packet of biscuits, occasional plates with yellow stains that remind me of the Maggi that they held till a few minutes back… and last but not the least, my everyday handkerchiefs that have been reduced to the level of being called “nozie wale rumaal”. They’re my favorite. I mean, the way they make me fish for dry spots in a one square feet area, to touch my nose with and snort out to my heart’s content, is naughty and fun at the same time. No matter how many times I fold the geometrically structured pieces of cloth and move towards one to blow my nose into; it always leaves me moving back with a moist feeling somewhere on my face.

My fever’s gone now, and I’ll have to prepare myself for another week of office from tomorrow morning. I’m not complaining, though. Not at all! I’ve had my share of a break, and I promise to face all challenges in the coming week with confidence, a smiling face and a stuffy nose that might sneeze a sprinkle of mucous on co-workers who’d come close to give me their reports for review.

Three cheers to the common cold.
Hip Hip *cough*
Hip Hip *phlegm*
Hip Hip *aah thoo*

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