Sunday, March 3, 2019

Conversations with Me: Round 4

 It’s late in the night - A weekday night, where routine dictates that I eat by 8 PM and sleep by 10 PM. Yet, sleep evades me like mice avoid a cat. In my quest to waste time, I’d been watching a movie – Into the Woods. The Witch, played by Meryl Streep, said something that has been playing on a loop in my head ever since: “Children grow from what you love to what you lose.”

This is when TOM decided to pay me a visit. Long overdue, after our previous conversation, but certainly unasked for.
TOM:   Hey there! What happens if we replace “Children” with “Parents” in that line?
Me:    **Speechless. Even thinking about losing my parents makes me tear up**
TOM:   Why do you not speak? You haven’t been home in the past two months. That’s surely a first. You must have a reason.
Me:    You know I’ve been travelling. And now my trips are split between Delhi and Jaipur. How can I possibly maintain the same frequency of visits as before? I also have critical deadlines approaching at work. If I don’t stay here and work hard, how will we ever get to launch the project?
TOM:    Did your company collapse while you were away for a month?
Me:    No. But that’s because all systems are designed to be person-independent. Work has to go on.
TOM:    So you’re staying away from home to work a job where you are completely replaceable? And this takes you away from your family, where you are irreplaceable? And you’re OK with this? I don’t understand the times we’re born in.
Me:    I can explain…
TOM:    No! I’m the one in-charge of talking today.
        I understand, you get some “learnings” from your job. You’re building your own story. You’re making an “impact”. You “grow and develop” as a professional. Maybe even as a person. And of course, it gets you the money. But, at what cost?
        Our parents are here only for a finite time. Without exaggeration, they are getting older as we speak. And one day, you won’t see “Mom/ Dad calling” flashing across your phone’s screen. You won’t hear that familiar voice at the other end of the line. You won’t be able to tell them, “I’m busy, I’ll call you later.”
        What will you do when you see them lying there motionless, leaving you utterly helpless? Can your learnings and your money buy you a ticket on the train of No Regrets? A second chance? Forget that, you won’t even be able to reach home fast enough.
        You’ll never know which visit becomes the one that you saw them last.
Me:    **What started as a single drop of water, is now flowing freely from my eyes**
        You shouldn’t be saying all those things!
TOM:   That won’t change the reality. You push your family to a deep dark corner of your mind. You know what happens where there is no sunshine.
        Don’t spend your life mindlessly working one job after another, moving from one city to another, chasing moving goal-posts. There will always be that promotion, that increment that will be held out as a carrot to you. But what won’t always be around, is your family. And trust me, nobody is affected by your presence (more appropriately, absence) more than them.
They are trained too to not show any emotion.
Or maybe they also work on the assumption of infinite time.
Or maybe, they’ve just accepted the witch’s lament as their fate.
Don’t let them.
It’s in your best interest.
Having had the last word, TOM disappeared. For once, the conversation was complete but I was left feeling hollow inside. It forced me to acknowledge things I didn’t want to. It left a bad aftertaste. And all I could do was look out at the sky, watching airplanes disappear into the clouds as they left this city behind, wishing one of them would take me along.
You can go through TOM's reflections here:

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