As I sit typing this post, everything is eerily quiet outside my bedroom window. Save for the continuous cawing of crows, silence has overtaken my environment. The irritating throttle sound of motor engines passing by, the annoying noise of horns honking through, the conspicuous racket of people shouting or chattering, all absent today. Life around my apartment has come to an abrupt halt, devoid of any activity.
Our drawing room faces the sea, a romantic picturesque view especially during a sunset, but unfortunately my bedroom doesn’t. It faces the back alley of a busy commercial street frequented by Bandra’s high society la-di-da shoppers during the day and drunken revelers late in the night. But today, all is quiet. Quiet because of the death of Bal Thackaray. All shops and restaurants were shut, as a mark of respect to the Marathi leader and also as a precautionary measure against vandalism.
Listening to this unusual silence, I suddenly felt nostalgic. This exact silence triggered memories from the past and ushered them to come flooding back. As Dr. Spencer Reed from “Criminal Minds” said, sometimes certain sound or smell can trigger repressed memories from the past. I guess this is it. The sound took me back to my school days when I had to force myself to study, and the only other distraction was the sound of crows cawing. Everything else was deadly silent.
And then suddenly I felt as if I was transported back to those days. And I saw myself 20 years ago seeing the future version of me and envying me, for I no longer needed to study.
Did that little me ever imagined how my life would have been like now? Throughout my school life, I always thought I’ll become a doctor. Not because I wanted to be a doctor but rather because my parents wanted me to become one. Did that little me ever imagined I’d be working in India’s top digital advertising agency today, drinking and partying almost every night, having an extremely flexible lifestyle while making decisions and strategies that could be profitable for some of the most reputed companies in India? I’m sure not. I saw that little me envying me because I no longer had to study.
And that’s how the particular sound affected me. I was “LUNGLENG”, a mizo term we use when we miss something… or someone… or some time and event in our faded pasts… desolation, I guess that word would best describe it…
Oh how I used to hate studying those days. And my folks always used to push me to my limit because they said I could be successful in life only if I studied hard enough. So many nights I would sneak under my blanket in our hostel dormitory with a torchlight learning a new chapter or two because I didn’t want my friends I was competing with to know that I was studying. My folks instilled fear in me, the fear of being a drop-out, the fear of becoming unsuccessful in life.
Many years later, I did drop out, from a Post Graduate a course. And yet, I don’t think I have failed in life. Of course it is still too early to weigh my success, but at the rate that I’m going, I think I’m pretty much successful so far. I look at my close friends working in our agency, and most of them are drop-outs too, including the CEO and Co-Founder of our company, and yet they’re one of the most creative and brilliant minds I have come across. I’m not glorifying drop-outs here, but I have come to realize things aren’t that bad if one fails, and that there is still so much hope at the end of the rainbow.
If I was to go back to that time and era, would I do anything differently? Or would I follow this trodden path because this is exactly who I want to be? Have you ever asked yourself that? Would you do anything differently in your past given that you could go back in time?
Much silence conjures many questions.