These are distressing times I am living in. This is more evident today than ever before. Everywhere around me, all I see is darkness and misery. Good news has become so rare that when you hear it, you feel nervous; wondering if that news might explode in your face as a cruel joke. These past few months, all I have been hearing is disturbing and upsetting news from the world and from the ones I love. Life has never been so uncertain. The future never has been so dubious. And in all this, I enter the 30th year of my life.
It is hard to tune yourself up into celebratory mode in this kind of an environment. And moreover, to be honest, this was the year that I had always dreaded entering – the 30th one. This now officially means that I simply have to be an adult, a grown-up. I am no longer a ’20-something’ fellow. I have to be more serious about everything and be geared up for the tough life that is coming my way. At least that is how I have seen people around me behave. But do I need to change the way I live just because another number has been added to my age? I don’t know.
As I enter this new phase, I am not excited. I am nervous, apprehensive, anxious and uncertain. I don’t know how I will cope with the demands of this age. Hell, with how uncertain life is nowadays, I don’t even know if I will live through this phase.
You might wonder why I use the word ‘phase’ here. You see, I have divided my life into three phases- ten years for each phase. And now, I have just completed the third one and am entering the fourth.
Let me elaborate a bit.
The first phase was the one where I – like everyone else – discovered the world. With wide, open eyes, I took tentative steps into this world. This was the time when life was at its simplest and every moment was worth gold. I learnt about new feelings and emotions. I discovered the magic of books and got submerged in them. Fun here was innocent and could be found in the smallest of things. My world revolved around my parents and my books. I was a pretty simple and docile kid and never caused any distress to my parents. I could find happiness easily and never cared about what others thought of me. Life was pretty uncomplicated in this phase.
Although there are innumerable moments and memories from this phase, there is a particular one that has become extremely vivid these days for some reason. It happened when I was in the 5th standard and had just received a merit card for scoring full marks in three consecutive ‘Unit Tests’ in Mathematics. I was obviously thrilled and in the evening, went up to my father to show the card to him. He was watching TV, all serious and solemn as he always is, and I quietly called out his attention to show him my merit card. When he realized what the card was for, a rare smile spread over his face. He patted my back loudly and said, “Well done…I am proud of you son. I am proud of you.” I glowed from inside and smiled shyly. It was a good feeling…
I look back at that memory ever so often these days. It gives me some strange kind of solace.
The second phase of my life was the one where I got wings. Wings to fly around with a lot of strut. This was the phase which passed through with the joys of friendship, the fear of studies and the feeling of being full of forceful swagger. From the docile child that I was, I turned into a jovial, jolly and sometimes wild teenager. There are so many moments and memories of this phase that will remain with me till the end of my time; primarily because of my school days and the wonderful friends I made for life in it.
Towards the end of this phase, as school ended, I became agitated. I did not know what to do with my life after school. I did not have a goal. I did not have an ambition like many of my friends around me. I felt clueless and helpless. Even before I could wrap my head around these complexities, tragedy struck my life. The hand that had cradled me as a child was taken away from me rudely. I was left groping in the darkness with no idea how I will face the next phase of my life without my mother beside me. Even before it had really begun, my life, it seemed to me, had come to a screeching halt.
My third phase began at a very slow pace. Unsure of what I wanted to do with life, and not knowing how to deal with the loss of a parent, I meandered about the first couple of years of this phase aimlessly. As frustration began creeping up, I even considered taking up jobs at a restaurant and at a video game parlour. But then, out of the blue (or perhaps it was meant to be), my life changed. There was only one thing that I was good at all my life: writing. However, I never really thought seriously about it; until then. Sitting on a hospital bed (I had undergone an operation on my lower back), I was reading a newspaper and came across an ad for a journalism college. For some strange reason, it suddenly struck me then that I could use my writing talent into a career prospect. I had nothing to lose and I hence tried. That decision changed my life as things have never been the same ever since. The phase that was to be the most clueless one, now took the turn to be the most eventful and fulfilling one.
Throughout my life, I was a mediocre student, but as I discovered the prospects of my potential in this phase, I grew in confidence. My writings began to get noticed and I could feel the passion build inside me to improve myself and excel at this craft. Writing gave me a kind of satisfaction that nothing else did and now all I wanted was to be good at it. I had at long last found a goal, a passion, a motive; and I began working hard to hone my skills. During this time, I also met two people who went on to have a monumental impact on my life; and that is still maintained. As I was working towards building my career, I found friendship with those two like I had never had before. Those few years that we spent together have, to date, remained the ‘golden period’ of my life. Nothing else has come even close to it.
A little later into the phase, I also got a job – my first – as a journalist. The few months that I spent at this job too have been life-changing; for myriad reasons. I excelled professionally and got the belief that I belonged in the real world and that am cut out to be in the path I have chosen for myself. I moved to another job a little later and ever since am discovering different facets of my craft.
Over the last year or so, things have been a tad slow; both personally and professionally; again for varied reasons. I also realize that I have simmered down a bit from what I was once. I don’t know how it happened or why it happened, but it just has. More than anything else, I feel I haven’t been able to do full justice to my talent these past few months. Not everybody gets a particular talent. Moreover, several people out there don’t even get to realize their talents in their lifetime. But I have. If I have been blessed with a talent, then it is my responsibility to keep working hard at it and keep improving myself. I had made several plans for this year but have not been able to execute them. Not everything, I guess, goes according to plan.
As I now take the first step into the fourth phase of my life, I am trying to keep my mind blank. I have no inkling what the future holds for me and to tell you the truth, I don’t want to know it either. All I want is to keep doing the things I love, to keep improving, to keep progressing and not lose focus. The rest will follow; hopefully.
When I think of it, I have come a long way. From being chided for reading books as a child, to working in a book publishing house as an editor; yes, I have indeed come a long way. But yet, sometimes I feel unsated. Why don’t I have more success? Why don’t I have more money? Why can’t I be more famous? Why can’t I possess more talent? These questions sometimes unsettle my mind. I then find ways to calm myself. Perhaps it was meant to be like this. Perhaps this is the way my script has been written. Perhaps I still have a long way to go; uncover some more hidden talents and other sparkling facets within myself. And for that to happen, I will have to try. By the end of this phase, I will get to know if I really did.
With the uncertainty that surrounds us today, I don’t even know if I will survive through this phase. But if I do, I hope that I would have made some more headway into my career and made some name for myself. That some more people would have noticed my work and would have appreciated it. And that I would have made some more precious moments and memories with the ones I love.