Of friends, love, and marriage

There he is! Shows up now, after this half-an-hour of agonizing wait. But, why is he ducking behind the flower pots! Oh, I guess he’ll play his usual Surprise! trick on one of us. Silently, I told this to the others and we were waiting to see what happens. As usual, he targets the well-pampered, innocent-looking, but not-so-innocent girl of our group. 3 years since we all met and he is into his old shoes already. Within no time, the old-time chit-chat starts and continues into animated banter. People taking about jobs, companies, and future plans. And, suddenly starting to tease the married guys and gals about their marriage and kids. It was all so lively and fun. I thought we would take sometime to get comfy after all the ups and downs we’ve had in life. I mean, once upon a time, we were thick friends and came to each other during trying situations. But, a long gap can pull people apart. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the case now and God! I was glad for that!

“So, how come you haven’t married yet? I thought you would have had 2 kids by now!” he started his usual mockery. Hadn’t it been for my engineering, I’d have got married at 18; and hadn’t it been for my MBA, I’d have got married at 22! Now, being 25 and still living free as per my will was something that didn’t go down well with my family. But still, if not now, when could I ever be so independent? This discussion seemed to have enlightened to him that I am no longer the daddy-says-marry-this-guy kinda gal. There was a sudden swell of appreciation in his eye and I kinda felt proud that it came from him. This guy was my closest friend in engineering. He dropped me home, gave me advice, enquired about my crushes, settled fights between me and my boyfriend. Heck, he had the audacity to challenge me to take up an MBA and convince my dad against marrying me off. So much for being independent for a small time in my life!

Soon, other stories started coming out. None of us who were committed in college continued to be so. After listening to 2 marriages, 3 break-ups and this guy’s ever-growing list of could-be-lovers, we headed out for lunch. I felt we were no longer our daily selves of well-groomed, well-behaved 24-25 old employees. It was college days again. Everyone was elated at being together. The food session began: after some glass clanking, fork scratching, and spoon fighting, we were on our fingers. I bet that hanging out with college buddies over a morsel of good food is 10000 times more satisfying than team lunches with colleagues. The sense of belonging to a group and still being able to become kids in a matter of few seconds has a nostalgic, yet heartening feeling to it.

Soon, the married guys had to leave and we were making fun of them that their mistresses were not too pleased with them hanging out for so long. Gradually, each one of us were put into that situation and others gave the verdict as to how each would react. People told that coupla years earlier, I’d have been my husband’s permanent unpaid chef.But seeing me now, they were convinced that I’d rather make him cook for me before giving in. I tell you, it was a secret pleasure listening to that! šŸ˜‰ Some time later, this guy’s verdict is passed and people told that he’d be his wife’s yes man! I knew him very closely and knew he was a romantic and that he’d love his wife a lot more than she’d expect. But my friends thinking that, it would make him a yes man shook me a bit. For a second, I thought if it was gonna be true. I despised the thought that he could become like that. My close friend, in fact, my best friend becoming his wife’s yes man was unsettling.

I argued against it and took people by surprise. Even he was giving me questioning glances and I told them in strong words that he’d treat his wife as an equal. Sensing that the situation would become serious, he cleverly deviated the topic and all was forgotten. But something had stung me. It was neither small enough to be ignored nor strong enough to be termed ‘love’. Or, was it? His part in my life flashed before me like a movie. For some part in my life he was the cynosure, and arguably, they were the best days! I could be a princess in his world and I had the feeling that he’d never let me be unhappy. OMG! The seeds of love are planting themselves in my head and I’m drifting away from reality. Suddenly I turned crimson and started blushing whenever I glanced at him. I couldn’t meet his gaze. Oh damn! that was too fast for me to handle. I was in sweet trauma, revelling in the feeling of new-found love and the inability to express it! Restlessness and excitement seeped through every part of me and I was dying to vent them all out!

I was so engrossed in keeping my emotions under control that I missed something that was being said. I was sure it was about some person out of this group. I listened a little more intently and realised a bitter truth.

He was about to get engaged to the love of his life.

It was late!

Responsibility

The weight of this word is growing with every passing day, especially on people like me ie., falling in the same age group and doing the same work as i am – studying. You see, we are the ones who are expected to form better citizens and ensure a “lead kindly light” sort of future to the country, right? So the gravity of the matter appears greater. However, i feel that, responsibility is to be held by everyone with relatively equal importance, according to their work. A good student should be responsible for his future, a good parent for his children, a politician for his people, an actor for his fan-following, a cop (or any public servant, for that matter) for the society, a good lover for his loved one(s) and so on. There can be none without this feeling, no matter how small it is.

I was being cornered by my father every time i was into some mischief, saying that i should grow up and be responsible. It didn’t end with that. I had to go through the same lecture many times thereafter, from my mother, teachers, uncles, aunts, older cousins, and at times, in a lighter vein, from my younger brother too! Man, it was too much. In course of time, i began wondering, what is the need of responsibility when people are doing what they have to. My father earns for the family, my mother maintains it superbly, I and my bro study well enough to save ourselves the comparison with first-class-someones (All this apart from having lovable times at dinner together, and at other occasions too!). And coming to the broader picture, everyone in this world is doing some job which will keep their loved ones and well wishers, contented and happy.

But you know something, as it happens with all things, I started growing older, and coming out from the innocence of a child and his ignorance about the actual world. And, the earlier thinking was not mature enough on my part. I realized it. But the point was that i could not really understand what responsibility actually was, even after that small ‘enlightenment’. (i guess, that enlightenment hadn’t lighted up my mind fully! šŸ˜‰ ) However, my quest for this piece of knowledge wasn’t going to end very soon.

The years of adolescence did make me hard by heart. Whatever little juvenile “tender heartedness” was present, had left me. It made me feel free, and i was going to care a damn about being irresponsible, simply because, i didn’t want to care. However, something else had been cooking up in my fortune. Instead of being a rambo that i wanted to be, i was about to become a romeo. I started to have feelings for a girl. This thing, sort of changed my angle of thinking. The state, in which you wanted to see the girl, changed into a feeling that urged you to be with her, then making you feel that you should ask her out, feel for her, feel like her and so on. Then, when i thought i was serious about this girl becoming my ‘Cupid’s gift’, a different feeling struck me for the first time. Though i felt it very weakly, i wanted to be responsible for this girl, who had come just like a lightening strike in my life. God!. That was a nice feeling. I was thinking about myself as a grown-up, as a man ready to take on the forebodings of life. So, this was responsibility, or was it?

Being taught by my little experience, the lesson of responsibility sinked into me, bit by bit. After all these experiments with myself and the things that happened to me, I found myself in a curious situation. The job placements had started in my college. After cracking the aptitude which was not that hard, I was sitting with an interviewer who was supposed to handle both Technical and HR. I was refreshing my memory regarding the questions that may be popped at me.The technicals were answerable. And LO! An unexpected question! “So Mr.Sriharsha, how would you define responsibility?” I was freaked out at this. I hadn’t prepared for this sudden synopsis of my experiment. I had to think for a while. Why were my father, mother, teacher etc., asking of responsibility from me? Did they want me to do something? Something other than what i had done all those times? And it boiled down to one thing. They were all expecting something from me and i wasn’t doing it. They, being very much elder to me, expected something of their level of maturity from me. And i had to do just that to be labeled Responsible. It seemed to be a logical answer. “Sir, Responsibility is living up to the expectations, people have on you.”

I take pride in saying that the interviewer was interested in considering my answer and finally he accepted it satisfactorily. Right after coming out of the room, i had a weird thought that i was preparing all my life for this moment, just to answer this question. After all, we are always preparing for many unforeseen situations and surprises offered to us by this responsible journey – Life. And in leading your life you should be exceeding your own expectations!

Artificial Life

I may have cheated you into this article by giving the topic. I have to say that it will not deal with making artificial, life-like organs inside top secret laboratories, but with the frustration arising from social, personal and academic pressures forced upon people struggling to make a beautiful life in future.

We were born free, but then started priorities, with the first of them being made by our parents. These set up a social character by developing a lifestyle. Today these lifestyles restrict the possibilities of exploring life and unfortunately there are prominent phenomenon helping the cause.

By teaching a child, a few rhymes, the alphabet, counting numbers, etc., within the four walls of dimly lit classrooms and few grown-ups interacting with them, a preset of life is being created. These hinder a child’s natural learning ability by experiencing things. Practical learning is not to be seen and by the end of schooling, he finds a set of formulae and a few futile experiments with the equipment as the experience gained in the better part of his learning stage. This underlines the fact that the current educationist methods create closed minds and restricted lifestyles. This continues in the college, graduation and in life.

Here learning takes place only through mugged up notes and indicates your ability to reproduce them in examinations and to happily and comfortably forget them thereafter. Sometime later, you get a scorecard to show how much you have forgotten, instead of showing how much you have learnt. This is happening in local universities, pre-universities, schools and the like. Even as students are provided with learning equipment, well qualified faculty, a disciplined, dynamic and a dedicated leader such as a principal pr a dean, the effort goes into making a set of pre-programmed bots who can hardly find interest in wonderful things in nature. Here the main assets of humanity, such as creativity and imagination are stabbed. This can explain to a certain extent that earlier, discoveries or inventions were accredited to a sole person, or two. Whereas now, a group of individuals combine their reduced abilities and patent their product to a company. This apparently creates human-waste that goes not into sanitation, but into society.

It should be clear enough now, that academic pressures build up in an individual from the tender age itself, much before he starts to make an independent living. The joy in learning things by experimentation is snatched and the heavy competition from similar individuals adds to the pressure, agitating him further.

There are things which can be done only during the age when you have the zeal and the time to do something interesting. These pressures, starting from academic, leading to social and resulting in personal, hinder us from enjoying subtle things in life which form sweet memories and help you stay young at heart forever. And finally when you are seemingly well settled in life with a sloggy job, unhappy family, poor health, unsatisfactory lifestyle, etc., you either are too old to change these things in spite of your hefty bank-balances, or you do not have the brave young heart to flip your life and enjoy the other side.