life : a fast-paced slideshow…?

– Neel –

It was a cool evening…a gush of wind brushed past us, heightening the fragrance of her expensive perfume…and carrying me away onto the waves of my thoughts…I sat there transfixed into her blue eyes when suddenly a  voice nearby roared,  “Mr. Neel…you haven’t answered even a single question till now. So I give u a last chance to make an impression on us…tell me all about yourself…your ambitions…your hobbies…if you have any ?”… a trail of sarcasm followed the lines.

In an instant, those words shattered my castle of dreams and drew me back into the interview session…The interviewer switched off the air-conditioner…thus no more gush of breeze…no more waves of thoughts to surf on. I was back in there in totality…The interview had already taken the road to a nightmare and my blatant stare at his pretty colleague had added fuel to the fire…I fumbled with my words, searching for the appropriate ones…

It was indeed a challenging question since the answer always comes in as a blend of tears and smiles…one that requires you to walk down the memory aisle and relive the failures and success…the disappointments and happiness…the losses and winnings…

For me, it was a tryst of my 3-year old version with that of a 25-year old. A rendezvous that made me realize how far I have walked on, away from my innocent childhood…my rebellious teenage…into this composed adolescence…It seems just yesterday when I held my mother’s soft hand and took my first few steps, before falling into her arms…when I sat on the bicycle with father and stopped each day on the way to school before a sweet shop, buying lodoos for my small lunch box…In any Bengali family the members become overly cautious , overly protective and overly concerned for their child…and so was mine…Few things that I can recall vividly includes the delicious “hot aalo parathas”  cooked by my aunt…grandma’s bedtime stories…and grandpa’s constant reminders for studies.
Moreover, my parents are brilliant artists and I grew up around the fascinating paintings and wondrous sculptors created by them, a colorful childhood surrounded by colors and paints…Often my father used to sit with his large drawing canvas and I sat beside him with my tiny paint boxes and brushes, emulating his styles and sketches.However, at the end  it was my painting that was adored by my family members…

I grew up so soon that I didn’t realize it was time for me to leave my cozy nest and walk into the real world all by myself. I passed boards with decent percentage and had to leave home for higher studies. I moved to a city bigger than my birthplace. A city that seemed to be exclusively for would-be doctors and engineers…with so many hostels and coaching classes…all promising in their unique way to help you crack your exams. Thus a new chapter started in my life, wherein I joined the existing race of becoming an engineer, burdening myself with tuitions and mock exams and struggling to secure a seat in one of the prestigious engineering colleges. Your status came to be known by your AIRs(All India Rank) and your fan followers were defined by your performance in AITS(All India Test Series)…almost no time to think of your hobbies or even to take a pause to enjoy…Amidst this, I kept trying to match pace with my friends…frequency of phone calls to my family decreased and that to my friends increased…My daily log became the dinner topics of my family and I transformed as their precious memento… Time flew and I became an engineer at last…

However, the college was nothing as compared to what I had felt in the past two years…the best days of life just began…a college teaches you a lot of things in life…I believe my readers  will agree with me on this…It starts first with distortion of your names, especially if your name is too large to be pronounced, second it improves your vocabulary…now you get to speak only a handful of selected words…really impactful words that could explain all kinds of emotions on earth…right from expressing frustration when ragged by a senior to publicizing the happiness when your friend request is accepted by the girl you have crush on…third you get friends-true friends-friends for life…such friends who would neither leave you to bathe in peace nor let you write the exams alone…motivating you in doing all the absurd and silly things… Your motto of life becomes…“LOAD na le…PEACE mar” …and it comes in handy to pacify you in any situations…

Late night Maggies…group studies just before the day of exams…endless bike rides…celebration of holi in puddle and that too in torn clothes…festival of cultural and technical fests…”hard wala roti and pani wala dal” in mess…your first dates and finding for the next in case of rejection…new style of birthday celebrations with GPL, that makes you regret of your birth…placement tensions in interview…job happiness on being placed…farewell tears…and dreamy eyes…All these marked the journey of countless memories…innumerable learnings…of my college life.

This beautiful phase led me to the threshold of the corporate world, a new life, a responsible life.  An opportunity to use your skills for the greater good and in return you get to enjoy a peaceful Sunday Sleep. The wardrobe metamorphoses from holding casual dresses to perfectly ironed formals and an alarm clock sits at your bedside. Your cellphone becomes an annoying friend bringing calls more of your Boss than from your loved ones…you become busy like everyone and once again the race continues…

I was lost in my thoughts when all of a sudden the interviewer shouted, an effervescent anger filled his face, ” Mr. Neel, will you answer the question now, or not ?”
Instead of floundering, I calmly turned to face the lady interviewer and asked, ”Ma’am if you don’t mind, May I say something?”… She smiled and gestured me to proceed.

” A pretty face like yours once said to me, life is like a fast paced sideshow – so think and choose wisely  your content and I believe the question you asked, reminded me of what all slides I wish to behold in my life…so Thank you”

With that said I stood up from the seat, turned and  left the interview hall…

I believe we are so engrossed in this universal race that we are unaware of what we really want to do. Even though it may sound a cliché to you but my reader…

“just for a moment take a pause…don’t panic…let others continue the race…anyway no one is going to win it…think what lies in your heart…feel what you really love to do…collate what all slides you actually wish to behold…”


Categories: Blog, Short stories

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