Let me live life on my own terms


Published: Thu 12 Mar 2020, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 13 Mar 2020, 1:00 AM

The sea appeared calm in the sparkling moonlight. Not far from the shore, small waves gathered and rolled down with a frothy smile. My daughter pranced around when a wave rushed to kiss her feet. In the distance, layers of light from scores of ships waiting to dock at the port painted a milky way above the water. The whistling wind serenaded all our senses. The chill from a semblance of winter that still hung in the air oscillated through our body. Right ambiance for a perfect night out with family or friends.
As the evening grew more and more beautiful, I felt restless. I wanted to be in the comfort of my home. Not in the bedroom, but on the Aegean-blue couch in the living room. That's where I find myself as soon as I return from the office after midnight, still suited and booted.
"Let's go home," I yelled to make myself heard above the din on the beach.
"Dad, this is heaven," shouted Vava as she chased a little crab to its burrow.
"I don't want to be where the heart isn't."
"What the heck, dad? You are a nature lover."
"I was. Life, and times, have changed, baby. Nothing is constant here."
"You drove me to the desert before the crack of dawn to get a glimpse of what you said is the greatest moment of hope in the universe. The sheer ecstasy watching the magnificent ball of fire come up over the dunes still lingers in my heart. You taught me that petrichor is the most soothing scent in the world, and let me dance in the rain until I got the chills. Traversing the desert on wintry nights to catch the falling stars, you said you were overwhelmed by the profoundness of the universe which can only be described by the concept yugen. Dad, don't tell me you don't love nature anymore." As a sudden gust of wind swirled around her, she came and sat beside me.
"I want to be home before midnight." I started to throw tantrums like a child.
"But why? Is it Amma's birthday? I don't think so. Is there an urgent article to write? Are you in the middle of a read-in-one-breath-type book?"
"No, nothing of the sort. Sathya comes past midnight. Then there is Kabani, followed by Sreelakshmi. I can't afford to miss them. They are all at a crossroads in their respective lives."
"Who's Sathya, your girlfriend? Let me warn you, dad. It's a dangerous game. Don't play with the hearts."
"Am talking about the soaps I have started to watch."
"Oh, TV serials! Are you crazy? You are getting addicted, dad. Get out of that mess before it's too late. "The disgust on Vava's face was illuminated intermittently by the headlights of passing vehicles.
"There's no harm watching soaps. You never missed to watch Friends, not even one episode."
"You are a journalist, a man of letters, who should be advocating against the dangers of watching cheap soaps. I am a young adult who can afford to do such silly things."
"Listen, don't tamper with my personal space. Let me live the rest of my life on my own terms. Enough of living everyone else's life."
"Yeah, but live a meaningful life. Not a soapy one. Binge watching of serials - those bitchy, nasty scheming in-laws - have altered your personality. You don't talk anymore; you only shout. When was the last time you read a classic? When was the last time you watched a docufilm on Netflix or National Geography?"
"Enough of the intellectual stuff. I don't want a life insulated from the hoi polloi. I belong there. I long to watch a movie in a village talkies where I can whistle to the glory when the hero MGR makes his grand appearance. I want to throw paper balls at the villain MN Nambiar as MGR beats him into a pulp. I want to steal that little lyrics book from the kiosk where we drank soda sharbat during interval. It's my life. Let me live it the way I want. Period."
"I pity you. It's a pathetic fall. Period."
"It's not a fall. It's a shift of interests. I can switch from Chaucer and Chetan in the blink of an eye. I can watch both QSQT and Pather Panjali with the same amount of excitement."
"Dad, you need to come out of the four walls where you have confined yourself. Come back to the aesthetics of yugen. It's a space of potentiality. Come back to nature. It's a dynamic whole to be explored and appreciated."
The crowd began to thin on the beach. A smattering people squatted around, tugging at their fishing lines and hoping against hope. Lying beside me on the white, powdery sand, eyes sealed to the starry skies, Vava seemed to contemplate on the profoundness of the universe, until she nudged me and said: "Dad, you know something? Poor Sathya met with an accident. I saw it at the 7pm show."
"What??!!" The wind and waves drowned out every bit of sound, besides their own.

By Suresh Pattali

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