Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The scales of life...

"Try to remember where you were ten years ago", said the wizard.

"But when was ten years ago?" I replied, baffling myself and the wizard at the same time. "Because it feels like forever, except that the forever was just another short moment." The wizard by now had regained his composure (perhaps wizards have a hobby of regaining composures).

"Let's go year-wise then", he suggested wisely, trying to give a solution when I hadn't even realized that there was a problem to be solved.

Or perhaps there was. I myself was responsible for starting this dialogue. It could very well have been a monologue until the wizard came along and I blurted out my thoughts, like a magician using an ink-pen instead of the wand to cast spells.

"Why does everything feel so different now?" is what I was trying to answer. "Have I changed, or has the world? Maybe it's another proof of relativity. We both have changed, relatively speaking."

Ten years ago, I was in a different world.
A dial-up connection used to be a prized possession. Today I brand 256Kbps as a "slow" link.

Ten years back, I almost measured the alcohol I was pouring onto the ice-cubes. Today I count only the ice-cubes instead.

India's performance in the cricket world cups was a topic of discussions over coffee cups. We probably discuss Sreesanth vs. Harbhajan with the same flavor today.

We used to walk around before dinner so that we could have a healthy appetite. Today we walk around to compensate for the unhealthy appetite that we live with.

We used to find ways to while away the hours, today it takes only a while for all the hours to vanish without our cognizance.

And come to think of it, back then, I was free, but not independent. Today I am independent, but perhaps not free...

There is perhaps one thing however, which at a macro level at least, hasn’t really changed. Ten years ago, there were enough reasons to keep me awake at night. Ten years later as well, there are again enough, albeit very different reasons to lead to the same state of wakefulness.

So then, am I better off, or is what’s weighing me down, not my own weight…?

The wizard was smiling. I had turned around while I was mumbling, but the wind from the sea was strong, perhaps strong enough to give shape to those mumblings and let the wizard see what I was thinking. "You must be very worried about those scales, I suppose", he offered, and it was again my turn to be taken aback. He could figure out that I was thinking in whose favor the scales would be tipped, if it were Me vs. World, what if it were Me vs. You, or even Me vs. Me.

Perhaps specially, Me vs. Me.

So what’s your verdict? You seem to know everything”, a hint of exasperation obvious in my voice.

The grass is apparently greener on the other side, and greener grass is generally heavier”, pat came the nonchalant reply.

What exactly is that supposed to mean? I was looking for something deeper than that. I don’t expect this grass-stuff from a wizard, for Heaven’s sake…,” my tone had considerably deteriorated, and there was a drop of desperation mixed into the exasperation already present. It was as if I had been waiting for a divine light of revelation, and all that had shone upon me was an eight-watt fluorescent lamp.

If it is always Me vs. Me, then does it really matter who wins? In the end, you will be the winner, and you will be the loser as well”, the wizard also showing signs of annoyance, but still very much contained.

But there is something even he doesn’t know. The scales are always tipped. One way or the other. The joy is mine, so is the sorrow. Life’s never a zero-sum game. But it’s a game nevertheless. Like Monopoly. What you win is sometimes what you would never need. And what you need is sometimes what you never get to win. The equation is always unbalanced. “And all I am trying to do here is to fit in some numbers and logic to make it even”, I almost shouted back, as if in retaliation. But by now the wizard had started walking.

I realized he was following me, on the ground, moving smoothly over rocks and grass alike. And floating on water, like a true-blue wizard. Growing taller with the setting sun, even stretching onto the other side of the road. Being run over by the speeding traffic, but never dying, always committed (until of course my tryst with the proverbial dust or ash), to be my formless, desire-less, weightless alter-ego, making sure at least this scale is always tilted on my side…