Countdowns are weird-for the lack of a better word- especially if they’re associated with massive decisions, transition phases, farewells and an impending pressure to perform socially. And if your case is like mine, all of the above.
They’re weird, in the sense that, although you’re more aware of what you feel or what you want to feel, you question their legitimacy a little more than usual. (Writing about this whole feelings business and finding words to accurately represent it is already making me cringe a little bit). As if all the Bollywood diet is going to somehow show up in your response towards stimuli. Especially if you’re obscure, messy and adamant to dig deeper for hidden shit like I am, knowing what to feel becomes as tricky as tricky can get.
You’re always looking for something bigger to make of random things that occur in a life even devoid of the D-Day, so to speak. You mark your calendars out, resolve to meet everyone, (try to plan but fail), expect to feel gratitude and love deeper than usual, and expect reciprocation that you would’ve dealt with the lack of otherwise. In other words, you’re looking for emotion that lingers, a sense of lasting impression. And in the process of looking for something to feel, and knowing what to do about what you have right now, you feel a whole lot of other things.
Moments of panic, for instance. I’ve had a couple of tear-jerking ones, all alone in a room, so far. These sudden obscure trigger-less dawnings of harsh criticism, nervousness, fear or just nothing. Far from the daily-soap cliff-hangers you’d imagine them to be. Before you know it, you’re just sitting there adding unnecessary weight to everything that’s happened so far. (It lasts for a few minutes until parts of your support system kick in, and you’re sharing memes again. More about that in a bit, promise.) Vicious circles of doubt are another. It’s always unsettling no matter what state you’re in. Whether or not you’re prepared, whether or not you feel inept, whether or not you are able to calculate impact—something feels out of place. Something feels ingenuine. The inability to articulate patterns is one more, as evident in this futile exercise that is now beginning to sound like I’m describing my entire life, but let’s just pretend otherwise for my own good please, thank you. A frustrating urge to escape, a shock about how months became days within the blink of an eye, a realisation that things probably aren’t going to transform much in areas you most want them to, the absurdity in writing this piece, as acknowledgement, an epiphany about things ingrained that you can never outgrow or cut off, and a ridiculous attempt to picture yourself in the moment you get off the cab into your new campus—are well, some other things that seem to come and go.
Throughout this murderous mosaic, however, there’s always one motive—especially having grown up in a city like Bangalore. With as little as ten precious chaotic days around, I think I’ve started to evaluate my relationship with this place. With the people. With the things I did right and the things I’ve massively messed up. To bring to focus something that had always been lurking around in the background, in the mist of Bangalore’s rains or the noise of Bangalore’s traffic for the majority of my life. I find myself trying to have the most of its food, suddenly spotting the slang of its crowd, and being more aware of the physical comfort and the ease of home and the freedom of being off guard it gives me.
I find myself, significantly evaluating the entirety of my social life in Bangalore, and whether or not I’ve done the whole “people thing right”, whatever that means, on lonely nights. The attention chase becomes graver now, faster. Morphing into a pressing urge to live upto the ideal self-image of this great, optimistic, sensitive, emotional, loving soul till the end, and little clue if I ‘really’ am. And I still try to flee from all of it. You see, I’m someone who tries to keep expectations minimal and I think half the conflict comes from an increased presence of the little nasty things. And how tiring it has been, and how tiring this is, nonetheless, this pothole of self pity and this scepticism of my positivity and process.
It is the want of a satisfying last impression, the one I do have some control over, unlike first impressions when I was a kid with weaker memory links, is what probably—which is to say, I don’t know for sure and I don’t expect that I ever will—haunts me the most. It all comes from an evaluation of the impact I have or have not made on people. A huge, daunting question mark about whether I have contributed to all the glory, whether I have made people I love feel worthy the way they have, me. Impact is a key word in my head right now, I think. Whether or not Bangalore will miss me is rather secondary, what I do want to know is that I’ve left my mark whilst my long stay here. If I’ve even had a space in another’s mind, a spot in another’s heart that has spelled my name even for a moment, I’d be happier making the one way airport trip about a week from now.
But what’s remarkable about this city for me, is how little time it allows you to dwell on yourself. The continuous stirring of creative spirits, people spirits, that little reply I finally get with a hundred cat videos to pull me out of the ditch, that small acknowledgment I receive as hugs and hearts, all those people I can have long-drawn conversations about everything under the sun with just like it’s any other day (“That’s probably a good sign, for all I know, of who I’ve carved myself to be—that nobody feels like the 18th is any different from the other days filled with my presence”, I tell myself this half-truth, to feel better), the cryptic “good riddance!” that I get just that once, the event invites and that out-of-this-world PVR multiplex that’s, like, five minutes away from home—and if nothing else, a million memories to jest yourself with.
Maybe not all stories have grand goodbyes and heaviness in the air that fills your lungs. Maybe some things in life are just half-truths. Maybe some farewells just tiptoe with you, and keep people just like they are, just where they’re ought to be, living their lives in joy and peace, sadness and dreams—and hopefully healthy enough to spare a thought or two, a minute or two, a conversation or two towards me once in a while, when they notice fairy lights in their neighbourhood that remind them of something I said to them once.