For once she expected some emotion from him; and an emotion would be the equivalent of seeing him broken. She did not know what it was about him that had always made her want to see him broken.
She was the princess and he was the shepherd boy. And their story was a once a fairytale in one magical land. There was no one prettier than her. Or lovelier. Whenever she came to meet him, she would bring a rainbow.
She was the kind of princess who made the shepherd boy feel like a prince.
There was no evil minister or pompous king, it was really the magical land. But one day, there was war. The kind that brewed inside the shepherd boy’s head – a part of him was at war with the other part and despite many efforts, peace could not be made.
The shepherd boy was called upon by a higher power and though he tried to answer it from the meadows, his voice got lost in the valley.
A time came when he had to leave the meadows.
On the day they were supposed to say goodbye and make promises, the princess arrived with a resolve that changed everything for the boy.
“I want you to be Him.”
“I want you to be like him. I think you’ll be like Him.”
“I have to read first.”
“Promise me you’ll be like Him.”
I kept the book down and I smiled. Yes, fourteen years later, I finally understood what it is to be like him.
I remember reading it in the train from Kolkata to Delhi, perched on the top berth of a train compartment.
I remember, carrying it with me and reading a few pages at a time whenever I had to wait outside somebody’s office.
I remember reading it in the kitchen of the tiny one room apartment my cousin had, hours into the night.
The book was like a Bible for me that set me off on my journey. And yes, I liked him enough to want to be like him.
I got a job with an ad agency in Delhi and I lost her.
But her parting words were going to shape my life for years to come and I’d be forever grateful to have someone like her come into my life.
To realize – the most beautiful relationships are the ones with people who come into your life and make you better. (And not your life better)
As the years passed by I moved on, from her memories and from being ‘him’. A lot happened and then suddenly, in the last year, nothing happened.
2013, the year that went by, was, without a doubt the most difficult year of my life.
I could look at it as a year where I laid all the foundations for my future years, or that I actually learnt a lot.
I could take it as a year when I stepped away from being a cog in the large corporate machinery to being a lonely cog trying to build my own machine.
But the truth is, it was a year of failures.
2013 I tried every possible thing and I failed at every possible thing. Sometimes I got things wrong, sometimes other people got it wrong, and sometimes everything was just perfect but the timing was wrong.
Sometimes it felt so right for the longest time, but in the end it went wrong.
Every time things went wrong, I tried harder. Things went wrong faster.
I fell down and found myself at the bottom of a Well (well, S, who’s seen my struggle closely says it IS like the old and broken Batman, rising. As much as this glamourises my hardships, it is also a reflection of the depth in writing we see in Christopher Nolan movies).
And there was nothing down there. Absolutely nothing and no one to tell me how to get out.
I tried to reach out to whoever I thought could lend me a hand. Some of them tried but the rope fell short. Some of them wanted my soul. Some weren’t ready enough.
Many were in their own wells.
And then I saw a rope of illumination spiral down in the midst of all that darkness. Just as it reached me, the light blended into the darkness.
Why is light hope and darkness despair? Aren’t some nights more beautiful and days more tiring? Why should we always try to run away from things we don’t like?
Sitting at the bottom and being with my own self for a while, I realized that coming out of this Well is not about escaping darkness and stepping into light.
Sometimes illumination comes in the form of darkness.
The Well is a creation of my own will; the Well of my choices. And I have to honour it.
I have to love and respect the darkness it offered and make friends with it. I have to make the Well feel that I don’t hate it; being in the Well is not captivity and getting out is not freedom.
That the Well is just another space I’m in. That it is not my cage, it is my Bodhi Tree.
I have to make the Well believe that I’m going to listen to all that it has to say, and then once it feels I’ve been a friend, it should honour my friendship and let me out.
So that I can go out with a resolve and make my movie.
And I can’t make the Well believe anything if I’m not patient and honest about it.
So I waited for the Well to open up and speak to me. Once it understood that I’m not resisting and actually enjoying its company it told me a lot of things.
Things that are going to stay with me, forever. One day I’ll write a book about it.
On the forward I will write:
“There are no demons in life. Things that bother you, bother you because they know you hate them. And there are no answers in hate.”
2013 ended well. I am so happy to say that the most difficult year of my life was also the most meaningful year of my life.
After the Well finished what it had to say, it handed me the book.
14 years back it was a story I read. 14 years later it was a story I realized I lived through.
All the people in that book came into my life. One person in that book gave me my religion.
Probably only one person in this world will understand this.
Then that’s how special that person is for lighting up my path.
At times, He could have been swept away, but He couldn’t be broken.