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That clichéd catastrophic event

October 14, 2012

It was many years ago, and it was a long train journey with fifteen friends. It was cold and the train wasn’t air-conditioned and the windows wouldn’t shut well. We would be huddled in shawls and blankets, chain-sipping tea cups, oblivious to the world. To kill time, we would have what-if conversations. Like, what is the one thing you would want to do today if you were to die tomorrow?

My answer to that question made everyone cringe because I answered that I wanted to experience childbirth. In early college days, when you can sky-dive and go on a cruise and see a Broadway show and meet Sachin Tendulkar maybe, this isn’t anyone’s answer to that question.

I don’t know what my answer would be today, because I have a million aspirations now, and the sheer effort to prioritize them would make me want to do nothing more than sleep restfully for eight hours straight. I have outgrown what-ifs and the lists and the resolutions and I am happy letting life pass by as it wants because well, it just does anyway, everything notwithstanding.

But five years ago, I did make lists, lots of them. There were weekly lists and daily to-do timetables and New Year lists and birthday resolutions. Here’s one of them (and funnily, edited too, somewhere along the years).

  The list: 1. Get your name in print (does this blog count? ) 2. Get a tattoo (I have. It says ‘let it be’. I don’t know why a tattoo was on the list) 3. Charity day (Not done) 4. Backpack alone to somewhere (I have travelled alone a lot, it counts) 5. Sing in front of an audience (Nope) 6. Learn to swim (oh yes! It has been the biggest accomplishment of my adult life) 7. Have a baby (postpone) 8. Dance like no one is watching (multiple times, it’s damn overrated. Believe me, you want people to see, you want them to applaud, you always want witnesses for your accomplishments).

I want to ponder at entry no. 7.

I turned 30 sometime last week. It was that clichéd catastrophic event, as all the already thirty people had warned me it will be. Whether you are an accomplished career person, or a happily married settled person or a still wandering one like me, any age milestone (post 21 I guess) is difficult to accept, partly because most of my generation doesn’t want to grow up.

The present seems so full of possibilities that responsibilities of the future scare me. Growing old scares me because my parents are growing older. Settling for a marriage scares me because I had wanted to fall in love first. Waiting to fall in love scares me because I had wanted to have a baby someday. Even wanting to have a baby scares me now because I feel I have accomplished too little in life to devote a big chunk of my life to another person. Call it survival if you will, but three decades on this planet has made me a real selfish person.

I didn’t celebrate in a big way, just escaped to be on the road to another new city. My mother, who suffers from the chronic hindi-soap-opera-dramatics called in and said, “I know you feel old and don’t want to celebrate, but till your mother is alive you are celebrated every single day.”

Maybe that’s why people have kids, so that they have a reason to celebrate always.

And I hope that I will someday have that too, however cringe-worthy it still sounds.

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