I could not help in comparing ‘Now and Then’ – a kind of time-frame analysis. That is because I had reached this particular place almost at the same time I had reached years ago.
On material plane, I was as hungry and as tired as I was then.
However it was not exact ‘replay’ of what happened earlier. Certainly, things have changed a lot.
First and foremost, then I was young, now I am old.
Then I did not know where I was reaching, I did not know anyone here, I did not know what to expect and I had nothing to fall back. I was full of uncertainty.
Now I know where I am going, I know people and places here, I know what to expect – rather I have choices about what to do and what to avoid and I have a return ticket back home. I don’t take anything for granted even now (like returning, having a home), but I am certain that I will always find out a way.
Then I was full of doubts, now I am peaceful.
Then I would try to convince people, now I let it go – until they are happy without exploiting others. I don’t try to convert anybody and I am patient enough to listen when somebody tries to ‘convert’ me.
Then I was as if person A; now I am as if person B – there is continuity but also a lot of change.
After reaching years ago, I was offered tea and Parle G biscuits. Today I consume a cup of coffee and as Parle G is not available, I have Britannia 50:50 – that is amazing link with the past within the range of changes.
I move around to my favorite spots and find out the serenity of the place is lost due to typical ‘loud’ behavior of the tourists. I suddenly realize that even then it would have been there – I do notice it now because I have lost some privileges in the process. With that acknowledgement of loss, peace is regained.
One of the old men invites me for lunch. I say yes but I do not go, not even on the second day. I do not feel like going.
“Do you feel shy? Do you feel guilty?” he asks later in the evening.
I am surprised by the question. Why should I feel guilty? Why should I feel shy? I am only trying to keep away myself from irritation- irritation at the way people talk, people assume, people think and people advice.
Then I would have told him the plain truth. Now, I smile. I say, “No, I forgot. Next time I will certainly join you for lunch. ”
“Come back here” someone says.
“Sure, whenever opportunity is there I would certainly make the best of it.” I answer. My goodness, what bookish language I am speaking.
“Come here forever,” he adds hurriedly, “when you have done your work and when you feel lonely.”
I am aghast at the suggestion. These people sitting on self made thrones treat other people with so much of hypocritical compassion. They think there is only one way – theirs!
Like old days, a strong reply comes to me. But I keep quiet. That does not mean I accept what he says, but there is no need to tell him that I disagree. He is happy to have me here listening, so let me listen.
“You know, you are a privileged child; that is why you came here in the first place” another one says.
I completely agree with this sentiment. I have always felt that coming to this place was a turning point, years of privilege shaped me in different way – I am thankful to all those moments, all those people and all those memories.
However, giving up that privilege was my conscious choice. I am glad that I came here and I am glad that I left this place. There was pain while leaving, but now I have overcome the pain. If I had stayed here this long, I might have become a person whom I would have not liked much. That would have been the price greater than the pain and sorrow I went through.
Now I feel free of burden of expectations, of traditions, of norms, of what not – laid down by others. It created horrible bondage for me – worst than the bondage life had caught me in initially.
Every time I re-visit the place, I realize that: What I gave up was worth giving up! I acknowledge that it is one of the greatest places to be at least once in life ……still, after certain time it became worth leaving.
Every time I re-visit the place, I realize that: What I have left back has nothing to contribute in my life!
Every time I re-visit the place, I realize that: What is past should remain as past; never try to turn it into present or future.
Some privileges are better lost.