Lockdown tales – 2

Unable to meet in person, kiddo and her friends created a WhatsApp group to interact.

They had a discussion about something – few agreed and few didn’t. One kid left the group in dissent!

When I heard about it, I was surprised for a while… that’s something I had seen only with adults.

Then I realised, it’s a basic human emotion all the same.

When we used to play cricket, the kid with the bat used to control the dynamics. Offend him and he’d walk away with the bat. Unable to handle that, I pestered my parents to buy me a new bat… and I did my fair share of ‘walking away’ as well.

Amidst all that talk about technology changing lives, human emotions are the same.. and will remain so.

Finding yourself. Losing your ‘self’.

For the last 2-3 years, I have been trying to be more of myself.

I used to live an outwardly driven life where others’ perceptions and opinions of me mattered… a lot. I wanted to achieve things, be respected and admired.

For some reason, since childhood, I’ve felt like an inadequate guy. Scared that our unforgivingly judgmental society would find out my inadequacies and reject me, I covered it up. With accolades, achievements, pretence and other props that made me ‘look good’ on the outside, but mattered less deep inside.

Those insecurities were my driving force.

Life was one goal after another!

I felt elated when I reached my goals and broken when I didn’t. The recognition I received when I reached my goals pushed me hard. That double edged sword also crushed me in my failures.

I couldn’t enjoy my successes because I couldn’t afford to stop. I couldn’t share my failures openly because I was scared of being judged.

Life was one stage play after another – I was an actor pretending to be an achiever. Never myself, never relaxed. Maintaining the house of cards was taxing.

Tired of running, I started looking inward.

I didn’t know much then. The first couple of years were empty, dull and depressing.

At that point, I didn’t understand why I gave so much importance to others’ opinion of ‘me’. My insecurities were embedded deeply inside and like most uncomfortable things, the mind buried it deep enough so that one doesn’t have to deal with it daily. It took a while and a lot of digging into to uncover the built-up anxieties and insecurities.

It became clear that I had bottled up childhood insecurities and was very uncomfortable in letting the world know of my shortcomings. I was scared of being rejected. That fear of rejection made me conform.

And when you conform so much, you stop being yourself. You chase the facades the society values – status, jobs, money, praise, etc. You essentially live other people’s lives rather than your own!

It became clear that my facades weren’t helping me in the long run. I had to discard them.

Discarding such facades is a deeply painful process. You have to open up unpleasant things about yourself and accept them yourself first, without judging. You have to be your own best friend and it is not easy.

Years of conditioning don’t go away immediately. There’s a lot of internal resistance. I think it is important to build mental immunity first before doing this. Without the mental immunity to handle it, one can drop straight to depression or even suicide. I credit my stint as an entrepreneur for having helped build a bit of mental immunity to handle this reasonably alright. I had two people with whom I could discuss nearly everything without filters, my wife and a close friend, and that really helped.

Once you cross the valley of facades, you’d think things would get easier. Nope!

As I kept peeling the layers of outwardness, hoping I’d find the ‘real me’, I didn’t find a ‘real me’, but only nothingness. The nothingness was extremely unsettling.

All those things that meant so much to me suddenly lost their importance. There was nothing to hold onto – to anchor my life and strive for. Seeking of any kind, the very thing that gave my existence so much meaning until then, turned unimportant.

When you seek, it means you have somewhere to go. However, when you introspect deeply, you realise your seeking is just a facade for your inability to just be yourself. Your facade is your uncomfortable-inner-self trying to be someone else.

When you become comfortable with yourself, you don’t need the facades. Without facades, suddenly there’s no need to seek. It’s as if I spent a lot of time shedding my outer-self in pursuit of a true inner-self, only to discover there’s no such thing.

It’s been a year now – and I am a bit more comfortable with the nothingness or whatever else you could call it. It’s still uncomfortable at times, but then it has helped me shed baggage and travel lighter these days.

Why do I click these pictures?

Why do I click these pictures?

Is it about my aunt? Or is it about my dad? I am not sure yet.

This is an uncomfortable thing to do and that is perhaps why.

With aunt, I always had a warm relationship. Yet, in the last few years, we’ve maintained a distance, because in proximity we had disagreements.

With dad, it’s a lot of the same. Yet, it is completely different.

Like I said in my post on my daughter, relationships are hard and messy. A thin veil of disagreements always linger. How you handle them defines the relationship. Maybe this is my half-baked study on relationships, especially disagreements and how we deal with them.

I don’t know. I mostly just click.

Anything is fine!


Every Sunday, I visit her at a long term care home.

Looking into her eyes, sometimes, it feels like looking into a deep well that leads to nothingness!

That is not how I know her!

I know her as a strong minded single lady who became the 2nd woman Tahsildar in Ooty. As the kind aunt who pampered me a lot – those expensive lunches (for those days) at Shinkows and Spencers in Ooty and outrageously priced toys at Chellarams and Mohans! The warmth of her love and affection above it all!

Or, frustratingly, as the lady who picked battles that didn’t make sense (to me) – like spending all her savings on a 40 year case that went nowhere. There were a lot of things we didn’t see eye to eye on, and quarrelled often for. Yet, we had a strong bonding.

She was always very involved. She gave it all. Once she was in, she was all-in. No half-measures! People were bad or good, things were right or wrong. Black or white, grey didn’t exist.

On November 25th, she was found unconscious and was rushed to hospital. A massive stroke left her motionless on one side of her body and more importantly, robbed her off her emotions.

Those very emotions that I have come to see as my aunt – having largely accepted her flaws as time has passed. I miss those.

It feels strange. She is alive. Yet, I miss her. I miss those emotions – those fights, those warm weekly calls, those arguments on yet another lawyer bill.

The last 3 months have been stressful, but time heals everything. I am now thankful that we had our moments. I don’t pray for anything – I can embrace anything. If she disappears into oblivion never recovering from her state, she will be just fine. I will be too. If she recovers and embraces me with all her being, that is fine too. Things can get bad, painful and sorrowful – that is fine too! Or better, that too, is fine!

Anything is fine. These two months, I have learned to remove expectations. That helps!

At the risk of misinterpretation by someone, I quote my opinion on life.

To pass through this brief life as nature demands. To give it up without complaint.
Like an olive that ripens and falls.
– Marcus Aurelius (Meditations)

The new manager

Once upon a time, there lived a simpleton!

He came from a far-off village and his education was so-so. Teachers at his modest Government school would often say, “you only know to eat, why do you even come to school”. Somehow he struggled through to complete 8th standard – the equivalent of a degree in his village.

Now that education was ‘done with’, his father reminded him of his family duties – getting any job that would help reduce the family’s burden.

Just like every ‘educated person’ in his village, he too set off to that paradise called Hangalore in search of a career. High hopes and a smile on face.

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