Meeting your past is always filled with trepidation. You never know what to expect, More often than not, they are like a mirror that shows your old self to yourself and you never know how to accept the reality that things have changed… that you have changed. It might be a friend from school who suddenly might say, “I never thought you would end up doing nothing creative.” You don’t really feel bad as this is a choice you have made, but your life does flash before your eyes and you begin to wonder how life would have been if only you had made certain choices differently. You meet up people from your school days doing different things in Mumbai and you had no clue that you were living in the same city. You find yourself in a bachelor’s party thrown for people who graduated in the same year from school as you did and you wonder if you have really grown that old. A few years back all of you were in school, waiting for a chance to make an excuse and rush off to a fest and now you had all your friends marrying one by one and to add insult to the injury, none of them asking you to be the official photographer at their wedding. And you see that guy from school grown up so big that he unlike many others you know has the guts to start his own set-up and prove a point that you do not need to leave
Meeting with the past also means letting go of your own baggage. It means honouring a promise you had made long ago to a friendship that you thought were eternal… to yourself. You question yourself if this is an obligation but suddenly when sitting across the table you realize that more than an obligation you needed this meeting to find the answers for yourself. For years you had waited, in anticipation, in eagerness, in distress, in depression, in utter frustration but never indifferent. You had played out the scene so many times in your mind and none of the endings that you had thought about had ever prepared you for the emptiness that lay in between you. You both sit and drink your coffee, couched in your indifference and you begin to hate Paul Simon for saying the truth that you did not want to hear. Time changes a lot of things and while you would like to take the moral high ground and disagree with it, you know deep within that what you had can never come back. You begin to wonder if this meeting was necessary at all. Did it mean forcing someone else to do something they did not want to do? Or perhaps they played the symphony one last time only for old time’s sake. As Barrett said,
It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here
And I'm most obliged to you for making it clear
That I'm not here
You know that you will never know the answer. Just like you will never know if there is a future. But maybe that’s just the beauty of it all. Life is perhaps in reality a box of chocolates.
But as you leave, you suddenly realize that the pain is not as excruciating as you had feared it would be. In fact, you smile to feel a spring in your steps. You feel free, much freer than you had ever felt before. You do not feel anger, nor guilt, just an odd sense of emptiness which you know will take time to go away. But you are happy, happy in the knowledge that your friend is happy in the choices made, in the path chosen and though you would have liked to be a part of the journey, you do not mind as the memories of the paths walked in past, together, shall be as evergreen as the trees that provided shade to those roads.
You make the silence less awkward and move on, happy to bring out the impishness. It helps the other person too, to make the decisions that need to be made. In terms of horse racing, it’s called being put to rest, to ease the discomfort.
Life’s often a train station. You never know when you will need to take different trains. As I write this Radio One is actually playing Limp Bizkit’s Behind Blue Eyes…
No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes
And no one knows
What it's like to be hated
To be fated to telling only lies
No one knows what its like
To be mistreated, to be defeated
Behind blue eyes
No one knows how to say
That they're sorry and don't worry
I'm not telling lies
But what makes life more interesting is to wonder who you will meet on the train that you have taken.