We are so focussed on the future that we often forget to relish the present. And before we realise, a year has gone past
Nostalgia is a recurring theme in this column and not without reason. I believe that nostalgia is your only true wealth, which makes you feel rich until the last breath, while everything else is transitory and temporary – here today, gone tomorrow! If your story is that of rags to riches, you can tell people: “You know, once upon a time I used to hawk vegetables on this very road.” If your story is that of riches to rags, you can tell those who are still around to listen, “You know, once upon a time, I used to own half the houses on this road.” In both cases, the memories warm your heart – irrespective of whether you are presently a prince or a pauper.
Nostalgia would not have been such a precious commodity had Father Time taken his sweet time in passing – so much so that you craved for the new day to break. But even as you blink, a day has passed. Now we all know that time flies and all – is there anything new in what I am saying?
Nothing really, It's just that the cruelty with which time flies past hits you hard as you approach certain personal milestones of your life, and makes you wonder whether it's worth leading a life when dates only stand for deadlines and delivery and when holidays are looked forward to so that you can catch up on sleep. Our minds are so focussed on specific dates that we often forget what month of the year it is – I mean, you may know what month it is but in a very clinical way without a feel for it. When realisation strikes, you are a year older.
Realisation struck me this morning when I was writing out a cheque for the newspaper vendor, who rang the bell early this morning. I put down the date as 10.10.11, when he reminded me, “Sir, it should be 10.11.11, but never mind, it is still valid.” It then hit me: ‘11' stands for November, which means next month is December, when I celebrate my birthday!
Now wasn't it just the other day – really just the other day – when I celebrated my birthday? I can never forget last year's birthday because I turned 40 and had celebrated the milestone by inviting each friend I have in the city. The taste of the cake still lingers in my mouth; the noise that is created when some 50 people gather in a hall is still ringing in my ears; many of the gifts I received are still to be opened; people are still commenting on the pictures of the party on Facebook; and I am still calling myself 40, happy in the knowledge that there are many more months to go before I turn 41.
But what is this: the time has already come! The prospect of turning 41 does not pain me so much as the fact that 12 months are about to pass without my even realising it. Father Time gave no notice, he just sent a last-minute alert in the form of the newspaper vendor. What was I doing when these months were passing by – why didn't I notice?
I guess I am yet another victim of the devil called deadline. My eyes are so perpetually fixed on a future date on the calendar that I miss out on today. What a pity that I listen to this song almost every day but am yet to get its import – it's an immortal song written by Gulzar, set to tune by R.D. Burman and sung by Kishore Kumar, from the film "Gol Maal":
Aane wala pal,
jaane waala hai
Ho sake to isme,
zindagi bita do
pal jo yeh jaane waala hai…
The moment that is arriving
is already about to leave
why not spend a lifetime in it
for it is about to leave.
Published in The Hindu MetroPlus, November 12, 2011.