Reading Time: 4 minutes

(The concluding part – continuing from ‘Dream or Reality’)

And that’s how ‘the dream’ smiled upon me and I thanked the heavens (and I imagine that He smiled as well and acknowledged my thanks) for letting me witness that pleasant sight from a close distance (unlike school days). And then we talked (the way schoolmates begin their conversation) about the good old school days, reminiscing the notorious acts, blushing on remembering the embarrassing moments and then inquiring each other the whereabouts of other classmates. Interestingly, how often it happens in a conversation that we talk mostly about the “pleasant past” or “promising future”. On second thoughts, it happens perhaps because often the present didn’t turn out to be as pleasant as it promised.

Having almost exhausted our past memories and tracking down all the old classmates, our conversation shifted towards what happened in our personal lives. She told about her experience of studying in United States, her experience of working for an international firm for last 3 years, how she felt alienated staying away from India and that now she has decided to move back to India for good to settle down here. Hearing her rich cultural experiences, I felt that she has already experienced the whole world. On the other hand, I had to struggle around to make a living in this world. I recounted my experiences of how I struggled to get admit into any of the reputed engineering colleges in the city. Then, I decided to pursue language and communication in one of the arts colleges in the city and how I struggled there as well and just managed to scrap through with a Masters degree and after that the struggle of finding a profession to make my living. After spending a few months in frustration of unemployment, one day I decided that I should try out doing freelancing writing works. With the freelancing writing jobs, I finally started earning and how success in one of the freelancing jingle-writing contest turned out to be a career-defining moment for me. From then on, the Destiny has been kind enough to smoothen out the struggles in my life to a great extent. And now, the ‘promising future’ had prospects of a 1-year contract of a jingle-writer in an international firm based in United States.

She appeared very fascinated by my story of struggles in life (like a foreigner appears fascinated by the story of struggles of a poor guy) and I was fascinated by her story of riches in life (like a poor guy fascinated by the wealthy foreigner giving tips liberally). Although, whatever I told about my life so far was true and not dramatized, I did hide a few inner thoughts which were related to her like how she always appeared as a dream to me and that I was looking forward to the job opportunity in US as a chance to finally get rich enough to feel worthy enough of trying to reveal my feelings about her and propose her.

When we realized we have already spent considerable time hunting down the memory lanes instead of hunting down places for rent, we bid each other good-bye and I promised to meet up soon to help her with house-hunt next time (the future did look promising to me that time!). While I met her a few times in this regard of house-hunting, internally I was feeling helpless in making a crucial decision in life in which there was a conflict of interest between career and ‘dream’.

Just when I had thought, that my career path shall lead me towards her and I would have a perfect life, Life tried to test me by pitting my career against my dream and asking me to take a decision (while it was smiling mischievously seeing my indecisiveness). I knew that staying back in India wasn’t conducive to my career growth and I would hardly be able to make my ends meet. And the career of jingle-writing was highly unpredictable and one never knows when one would run out of creative ideas or get lost in the competitive world out there. As this famous jingle suggest, “when on a roll, make the most on a payroll”, the 1-year contract was kind of my first “permanent” job and I wanted to make the most of it. However, when I had first received the offer of this contract, I didn’t have such thoughts then. At that time, I was rather more excited by the prospect of working in United States and hence, the hope of seeing her and proposing her (like the perfectly laid out plans one often has of promising future). But now, when I realize that she has moved back to India, I had to reassess what are the other favorable reasons for accepting this contract.

We often curse Life for putting us in such troublesome spots but we don’t realize that how such times could be a blessing in disguise where we are forced to prioritize the things in our life as it turned out for me. And after giving much thought to logic and emotion, I decided to accept the 1-year contract and fly away from the dream. It wasn’t the case that I didn’t wish to stay back with her in India but I realized that I hated the struggles I had faced so far more than I loved her. I realized that perhaps I didn’t even love her. Maybe, I was just inspired by her because she seemed to have led such an effortless life where she got what she wished for – rosy childhood, quality education, international exposure, well-paid job. And I also wished to lead along such a life (doing it in the comfort of her company was more like an additional bonus). Having confessed to self about priorities in life, I realized how I had been fooling myself with this dream which was merely a way of inspiring self to get over the struggles in life. Hence, I decided to accept that contract and move out of her contact as well by showing reluctance in communication. If we meet again, I shall say that Destiny has been kind to me.

Dream or Reality

Reading Time: 2 minutes

(Continuing from the last part, Chasing the dream, in his own words)

It was yet another weekend where I was still working, trying to complete my latest assignment – the assignment of coming up with jingles for baby products for e-Baby (It sounds like e-Bay but to my disappointment babies are not auctioned here). The harder I tried to think about jingles for baby products, the more my thoughts drifted towards thinking about the process in which sometimes baby is an end product (Perhaps the last night’s social drinking effect was still hanging around). The only jingle which was incessantly repeating in my head at that time was the jingle that “the baby producer” (the baby-product manager of e-Baby) made about me – ‘the guy who mingles yet stays single is the guy who writes our jingles’. I decided that in order to complete my assignment, I must go and have a cup of coffee to stop my wandering thoughts.

*Tring – Tring*

Hello? Who is it?

Didn’t you save my number when I gave it to you that day?

Oh… Daisy! I must have missed it (and I thought that was a dream!)

(Laughs) O God! And I was waiting for you to call me.

So, what’s up?

Nothing exciting, just looking for a house for rent this weekend. The city seems to have changed so much since I left India.

(Yes and so have I)

Do you need my help in house-hunting? I could come over.

Are you free this weekend?

(Lying) Yes, of course. And it shall give us a chance of catching up once again (and convincing self that it wasn’t a dream).

Okay. Then let’s meet at that theater behind our school in an hour.

Cool. Let’s meet at that theater (where my classmates often sneaked through to watch the morning shows) in an hour.

And that conversation changed my course of thoughts from thinking about the jingles to thoughts about her. I dashed off to our meeting venue as soon as possible. I had reached the venue about 20 minutes before the time she was supposed to arrive. I started taking a look around at this old theater which seemed abandoned now with the advent of so many multiplexes in the city. Surprisingly, there were still a few old posters (of the times of my school days) hanging onto the walls of the courtyard of the theater. And more surprisingly, I found that the ticket counter was open and I walked towards it to find which movie was getting screened at this haunted theater. Not surprisingly, it was one of those morning shows movies. I was admiring the poster of that movie when I was suddenly caught off guard by her.

So, you would like to watch this movie?

I didn’t actually need to turn around to know that it was her but I turned around slowly with the flushed look of a student caught doodling in the class by the teacher. She looked at me for a few moments with those stern eyes of such a teacher before she broke into an infectious smile which comforted me and made me grin sheepishly about that scene. Then, we laughed together about the entire episode.

Those were the cherished moments that are still imprinted in my memory.  

(to be contd…)

Chasing the Dream

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The phone rings again. He decides to ignore it again. He had already deliberately avoided picking up her call for last three times today.  But suddenly, he changes his mind and picks up her call this time.

Hey, what’s up? Not picking my calls?

(Decides to make the excuse that never fails) Nothing much, was sleeping and phone was in silent mode.

Oh… ok, thanks for the huge favor. I would like to get rid of this debt as soon as possible. I would like to hand over the check tomorrow.  So, we are meeting tomorrow, right?

Can’t you do an online transfer?

Man! You are so strange. Not long back, you kept proposing dates for meeting with me, and now, you are acting so reluctant to meet!

(Laughs… and makes another excuse) It is just that I am too lazy and don’t feel like stepping out of house on Sundays.

(Laughs) Don’t make excuses. I shall see you at 7.

Okay. See you tomorrow then.

Although, he disconnects the call, her pleasant laugh still keeps ringing in his head and his thoughts drifts down the memory lane to the pleasant childhood memories associated with this laugh.  Those were the days. He is snapped back to present by the striking of wall clock signaling that it was the 3rd stroke of the night. He wonders why he is so reluctant to meet her now. And he doesn’t have to ponder upon it, as he knew very well why.

He wishes he could confess to her that she was her childhood crush. He wishes he could confess that she was always like a dream – not the dream that one chases, but the dream that one likes to dream of. Like the dream one dreams of how cool it would be if one had an invisibility cloak or one had super-powers like superman, but one doesn’t chase such dreams (at least he didn’t and he heard those who chase such dreams, end up getting hurt jumping from rooftops). She wasn’t aware of his existence in reality then and he wasn’t aware of her existence beyond his dreams.  And it was a blissful co-existence in which he associated all the attributes (like elegance, compassion, innocence, humor etc.) that he wished in a Dream to her.

Although the years rolled by, this Dream stayed with him like the other dreams that he didn’t chase, as such dreams don’t shatter because you don’t chase them. And when she appeared in his dreams, a few months ago, in that usual coffee shop setting, he was so certain that he was in dreamland that he dared to go talk to her (for he gathered such courage only in his dreams) and they kept talking as they always did in that usual coffee shop setting and the usual scene where they both really meet for first time and they exchanged contact numbers at the end. However, this dream appeared different to him from the other usual dreams.  However, he ignored that thought and continued to live as if it was yet another dream until the day he got a call that dawned upon him the reason why that dream was different.

(to be contd.)