Sun was about to dive below the horizon, my stereo was playing Rag Marwa. It brings somber feelings and mood. The street lights were just switched on, but they did not appear fully bright in the residual light of dusk. A flock of egrets was flying south. Perhaps they were returning to their nests.
I was sitting on the terrace of my house when Lulu, my parrot, flew in and settled on the top bar of jhula.
“What’s on? How are you feeling? Lost in your thoughts?” Lulu bent down from his high position on top of jhula.
“I was thinking…. I am seventy. None of my relatives, except one, have lived beyond seventy-five.”
I picked up my coffee mug. “So, I guess I do not have more than five years to go.”
“Five years to go? If only life was so predictable! Nobody can predict what’s going to happen next day and you are talking about five years. Phew! You seem to be in blue mood.”
“Old persons often think of some regrets they carry. I want to ask you ….”
“What’s your greatest regret?”
“My greatest regret so far? Well, that’s interesting. Let me think. Why one, I have two regrets. First, I wanted to learn Hindustani Classical Music, but I never did.”
“I really don’t know why my parents did not arrange it.”
“Why didn’t you learn when you were earning and old enough?”
“I thought I was too old to start learning music.”
“But many persons have started learning in their fifties.”
“I know. Somehow, I could not gather enough courage to enrol for a music tuition. I had concluded that the age for learning had long passed, so I did not make any effort.”
“Is that causing you a regret? Because you have to blame only yourself?
“Hmmm…. Now that you say….. Yes, I think.”
“And the second?”
“I wish I had had the courage to express my feelings. That, I think, hurts more than the first.”
“Arre! I always thought of you as an outspoken man.”
“That’s true. I speak my mind. But that is different from having the ability to express feelings. It surely requires courage to express feelings in some situations. Even outspoken men get tongue-tied in some situations.”
“What did you lose by not expressing feelings?”
“That’s a tough one to answer. I have lost a friend or two because I did not speak my feelings, and got misunderstood. Or it damaged some relationships beyond repair. You only curse yourself in such situations.”
“Why do you think it happened?”
“Hmmm…. I can only guess. Perhaps I must have carried the belief that expressing feelings is so feminine. I wonder how we catch such notions. And how they stay rooted deep in our mind. Or maybe the fear of intimacy”
“That may be true. Think hard, there could be more reasons.”
“Confused. I was confused. There is always a point in conversations when you express it. And intense conversations move with the speed of light. If you don’t catch the moment, you have lost it.”
“To express or not to express! This is so ‘Hamletish’! People get confused because they try to live a life expected of them by others.”
“You said it, Lulu. It takes a long time not to live by expectations of others. Maybe it is the price you pay for growing up.”
“You say that’s the price you pay for growing up. Interesting.”
“And you said that being tongue-tied cost you some friends, and some relationships. How about making amends now?”
“No. Some of those people are gone. They are not there anymore. And even if a few were available, I will make a fool of myself by speaking about it now.”
“You think that the time to make amends has long passed – similar to not enrolling for music. You want to keep the wound bleeding – is that what you really want?”
“I do not know….”
“That may be because you think you still have five years to make amends.”
Smirk on Lulu’s face was unmistakable. The westerly wind was blowing and it was moving the swing gently.
Vivek S Patwardhan
Feature Pic Courtesy Jehyun Sung on Unsplash
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” **** “Aroehan: Creating Dream Villages in Mokhada by 2025: “No Malnutrition Deaths, No Child ‘Out of School’, Reduction in migration by 50%.”