Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Watch Out For What You Wish

How can I be sure of what I might want a year from now, when I seek a million different things every day? Not long ago I had the good sense to finally accept the fluidity of my thoughts and desires that refuse any stagnancy. I am also aware that getting what one wishes for doesn't always guarantee happiness.

I grew up cursing the dust, smoke and blaring noise of vehicles; I detested the hectic buzz of cities where everyone was in a hurry and longed for the slow and meditative pace of life in the hills or a quiet village. In my relatively short life, I had already formed opinions about what is ideal and lying in a patch of sunshine and reading, dipping my feet in the silken sheet of a river at sunset, and long conversations by the glow of a kerosene lamp were prerequisites of it. I would like to mention here that the books that I read in the formative years of childhood were of the likes of Heidi (with its mountains, stern but kind-hearted grandfather, ruddy-cheeked children, goat cheese and a bed of hay), Anne of Green Gables (trees, brooks, books and conversations), My Family and Other Animals (Corfu and its glorious flora and fauna, and its quirky inhabitants) and stories of Rudyard Kipling and Ruskin Bond (with his turtles in a shallow pond, leopards and foxes in dark forests, haunted houses standing alone atop hills, old widows who had a treasure of stories to tell, deodar trees and yes again, the mountains). And then there were my father's stories of growing up in his village where he swam in the Brahmaputra, and was surrounded by people and surroundings so idyllic that made hardships and poverty not just bearable but tackled with an optimism. I craved for such a life, surroundings that provided a premise for stories to occur.


My wish came true in late 2011 when I enrolled in the compulsory rural posting under NRHM and was sent to work in a remote village in Assam. By the end of the first month I went dizzy with excitement by the steady diet of impossibly green fields, fresh air and bluest blue skies, witnessing the simple (and slow) lives of the people who spent their mornings digging up sweet potatoes and afternoons taking long siestas. By the end of the second month I was ready to commit seppuku for the lack of excitement. Time stopped in that place and I slept off at eight every night only to be woken up at odd hours to deliver babies. The simple life got on my nerves to the extent that I could have torn apart the limbs of the next person who called up to say, "I envy your quiet sojourn". Every time I returned home, it felt like an escape from a prison. I gulped in lungfuls of polluted air, chalked in every hour of my weekend with some activity, ate out, went shopping, surrounded myself with noisy and boisterous people, and went to bed at two in the morning. I missed the noisy, grimy, hectic city life where there was always something going on. I still crave for the quiet hills and idyllic sunsets but now I am wise enough to realize that I want a balance between the quietness and the noise. I want both, I love both. 

I fell in love when I was nineteen. But it was out of reach and in the following eight years I wished to recreate that first love in the wrong places and for the wrong reasons. I got attracted to only emotionally unavailable men or to those that didn't have the potential to evolve into anything substantial. I created illusions of love. Was it a subconscious protective instinct? I don't know. Love had brought out a side of me that I didn't like-clingy, jealous, insecure and nurturing worthless hopes. That's not how it is supposed to be, is it? Yet I convinced myself that I was wishing for romantic love. I was ecstatic when that first love walked into my life again, but everything that followed clashed with my wish. When I think hard and clear about it, I don't really want the romantic love and all its complications and responsibilities in my life right now. Not until the right person and the reasons comes along. Then why did I wish for it? Because I mistook my need for quiet companionship as a need for love and this lack of clarity led to unnecessary anguish. But now I know better. 

I never had any definite ambition in life; I just wished for a career that brought me job satisfaction, stimulated the mind, gave something back to the people, and made me financially secure and independent. I ended up being a physician. But there were few unseen and sometimes self-induced obstacles on that path. I am happy with the career I have chosen; not many get to be a part of this noble profession and heal lives. I am just grateful that I got the opportunity and sincerely carry on my duties. But it hasn't brought me the happiness that I had hoped it would. And I know why. I am always eager to learn and improve my skills, but it lacked that rush of passion and go-getter ambition. Instead I am passionate about writing. The irony is that I am skilled in the medical profession that doesn't invoke in me a mad fervour, and even though all I want to do is to write I lack the talent for it. There is the clash again.

Often I get what I wish for but it doesn't guarantee the happiness that I had imagined. So be careful about what you wish for, and devote some time to know what you really want. People change and so do their desires and wants. Always foresee that possibility when you make that next grand wish.

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