It was after six when my phone rang. I had developed this habit of not picking up the calls when I was at work. Our employees were punctual to the tee and had left office by 6.00 PM as they do daily. My favorite part of the day began just after that. Nobody to watch over, to want status report. But the truth is I was not able to even imagine a life without that when we had long weekends. I was alone and I had time in hand. I picked up the call.
“Hello!” said the enthusiastic voice on the other end. Sometimes people have this annoying habit of being enthusiastic all the time. My caller, Pritam has mastered this annoyance. Even after telling him that it irritated me, he never thought of changing it.
“Hello” I said.
“Did somebody die?” He asked. I know he is sarcastic. But that is my tone these days.
“Yeah! Me. Slowly. Day by day”
“Come on! There should be something that you can feel happy about”
“Stop it with your smile at the tree and flowers crap. I tried it once and that was the silliest I have ever felt about me”
“But isn’t happiness is being silly?”
“So today’s conversation is about being silly or being happy eh?”
We met through Facebook. Once upon a time I was active in Facebook and blogging world. You guessed it right! Love failure. I wrote whatever came to my mind and published it without even reading it again. It is funny that some words tug some nerves in some people and they start follow you. Then you respond to them and understand whatever you wrote till that day was absolute crap compared to what they are feeling inside. I never told him, he was one of the reason I reduced writing. I am sure he would find something to get enthused about it too.
“Did I catch you in a bad time?”
“Not at all. I am free for another fifty minutes”
“Thank you. The other day I was writing this poetry and got struck in this word.”
“When did you start getting struck with poetry and all?”
“I want your help.” he said. I knew about that snag. It is just a word. We will take forever to find it. The right word will be in front of our eyes. But we always feel that our feelings are much bigger than the words and keep searching and searching. And when we finally find it, the feeling will not be the same.
“Tell me about it”
“I dont want to give out my poetry. But here is the thing, when we visit our native after so long, basically after shifting to totally another city sometimes we will miss the noise, the smell and simply the feel of feet in the sand. What do you call it?”
“Waste of time, may be?”
“Boss! I am serious”
“OK. I think longing is a good word to use. But you know I am not a big scholar in English”
“Yeah. And that feeling, when we visit that place again, if we are not really happy about what we see and look for more and more of the olden times, what would you call it”
“Why are you doing this to me? Did I hurt you in some way?”
“I really need your help”
“Pining may be the word. But the situation you tell me is quite different and it is hard to even think about it”
“I know. That is where I am struck.” There was a silence which I didn’t want to disturb. I had gotten used to this silence with him both in person and over the phone. He will come up with some interesting thing after the prolonged silence all the time.
“I am thinking of buying a plot in the outskirts of the city”
“Whoa! Great news. My advice would be stop thinking and buy that damn thing”
He laughed. I knew why he laughed and I joined with him. I knew him for seven years. I was in my early twenties and he was much younger than me. Since we got to know each other through blogging most of the time we talked about books. About reading, about writing, about creating a theater group. We talked and talked and at the end of the day we just talked and didn’t do anything. Since we started working there was no turning back. Dreams just remained dreams. He wanted to go to the college and learn creative writing. He wanted to be a screen writer and we both knew what it meant to buy something for our financial capability.
“So you thought through this?” I asked.
“I guess. I am pretty happy with the way things are going at work and there is pressure at home. I dont understand their fixation about owning a piece of land. But my parents is all I have. And till now they have not asked me anything but this”
“Technically, this is not even for them.”
“I know.” Suddenly the enthusiasm was gone in his voice.
“You will get over it Pritam! This is what they have learnt. After school, you should go to college. Once you finish it get a job as soon as you can. Then get married when you know they wont push you out of your office.Buy a piece of land or home and reproduce. It is that simple.”
“Yeah! Sadly this is what we also learnt”
“It is like the story of Abhimanyu. We learn things right from the day when we get formed in the womb”
“I don’t know whether to be able to get out of this cycle and find what I actually love to do”
“What if Abhimanyu thought like this? He didn’t knew the way out of the Chakravyuh. But still he went for it.”
“And he never came out of it.”
“But if he had survived his son would have learnt different things when he was in the womb”
“I got an idea for another blog post”
“Go ahead. I have a call in another twenty minutes. I will have to prepare for that”
The call got cut. I opened my e-mail to check if there was anything I was missing for the conference call. There was an email from my colleague inviting me for his house-warming function. He had bought a six hundred square feet apartment for some thirty five lakhs and had pledged his next twenty years of earnings to the bank. I clicked on the star button to put it in the “starred” folder.
I checked the folder. The email right below the one which I recently saved was titled “Updated Novel”
I checked the tick box to the left of the email and was not sure what to do about it when our conference call began.