I’m reminded of a time when it was all simple.
The shining tennis ball would bounce a couple of feet away from me and all I had to do was connect with all my might. An art perfected by many a young Indian boy, I was beyond repair when it came to getting that hand eye action in sync. Thus missing the ball, the painful clunk of hearing the bails being displaced and the not so long walk back to the pavilion a couple of yards behind the stumps. But the time I’m reminded of is when I managed the rare and connected with sheer blind luck and then I remember the ball sailing, surely it was going to sail past that fielder..
Which reminds me of another time waiting for her at the bus stand, stricken by the fear of being left alone. The Jodhpur sun bore down on me and I was stuck between my urge to run home and the fear of staying put. Then I saw this man on a cycle nearing me. He stopped next to me and stared at me awkwardly. He was worn out by the years he had lived, he didn’t disguise his obvious disgust for the heat and he wore a look of curiosity. He then came and sat next to me, pulled out a bhidhi and looked away into the distance. I shifted uncomfortably wondering if I should open some dialogue. He chucked the bhidhi and turned to me. The shivers that ran down my spine have never been felt again. Calmly he wiped the sweat off his brow and spoke..
I auditioned for the play because they told me I needed to get over my inhibitions and exhibit what could be a talented actor. I was moved and fell for the ruse. I discovered in time that they were right and I was on song. Days spent after class pitting my acting wits against some real talent and a director (my English teacher) who reminded me everyday that I was born for this. The lights, the stage, the intoxicating control that you have over the audience. A feeling that you have a wand which if used with the right spells can make them laugh and the very next instant , cry. I enjoyed that power, that creature had found an outlet. We toiled many a night, tore scripts, changed costumes and then it dawned, we were on the verge of creating possibly the most special moment of our lives. And then we got on stage..
Creating that first piece of writing that would truly define me was always going to be my greatest challenge. So I left that for a later date and decided to create a piece of writing that would start me of on that long and arduous journey. I dug into my own life, the lives of others, worn out movie scripts, instances mundane and forgotten and emptied out a closet full of ideas in the process. Finally I went with an idea so simple that it was a travesty I didn’t think of it before. I began to write about everything I knew about myself, not an autobiography but a commentary. It was going to be unparalleled in detail and funny as hell. It was my story after all. The keyboard keys would tap away like magic, like I didn’t need to even put the effort of tapping them. They were tap dancing themselves towards something truly momentous..
I loved the beer there and also the mixed fried rice. The chicken pasta was amazing and days were spent contemplating life and discussing nonsense. The beer would come in pitchers in the beginning of the month and would turn into mugs by the end of the month, shared by three. Yet we drove around town like we were kings. But then again, we were. We came back from late night movies, only to take long rides around town discussing and breaking down every instance of the flick and chick to the last scene. Yet it never struck us that it was all going to end someday. I loved the coffee there or did I just like the time spent with individuals who defined an era of my existence. That last day wasn’t spent in any of these places though. There was no beer or coffee..
So I’m reminded of a time when it was simple.
When that ball that sailed over the fielder for my first ever six was my greatest singular sporting achievement at that time. When a strange man at a bus stop became my companion and advisor while I waited for my mother everyday. When walking onto stage and waiting for your eyes to adjust to the blinding light so that you could see your audience gave you a strange high like nothing else ever again. When writing that story went from becoming an obsession to being hidden away in my system somewhere, only to be retrieved in the darkest of times with a rush of joy enveloping me. When a city becomes your identity, your home and your definition and when you spend your last day in it in a silent corner you had never been to before, remembering every moment spent with the greatest of appreciation, for a time well spent.
I wish for simple times like that again..