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Past forward

By Nickunj Malik - Dec 28,2016 - Last updated at Dec 28,2016

I do not mean to sound like a whiner during the festive season, but I cannot bear people with a perfect past. It is impossible to be around them, you know, the ones who fix some point in their distant bygone era, and claim that it was the most utopian period of their lives. They depress me, these folks, who insist that there is nothing for them to look forward to, because their erstwhile idealistic existence is over. Their future is already imperfect since it can never match up to their flawless days of yore. In most instances, it is very difficult to correct them. Unless you have been a part of their childhood, and even then, what they recall, through their rose filtered glasses, is quite contrary to what you might remember, through your own fact checked ones. 

When I was 30 years old, which was long back, I knew this group that met every week for coffee at a local cafeteria. Some of them were alumni of my school and the rest were from my university. All of them were at various stages of their careers and several had ventured into parenthood. I had a part time job that I juggled, along with looking after my pre-schooler because my spouse was completely caught up in his vocation. He was more of a weekend father. Life was a whirlwind of days merging into weeks and I had no time to sit and brood. But each evening I was overcome by a great sense of gratitude when I managed to handle my challenges, to the best of my ability. 

Soon I was invited to the coffee group that I wanted to be a part of, but simply could not find the time to join. After missing three meetings I presented myself at the fourth one, a little out of breath because I had jogged to the café. There was a discussion going on about raising the membership fee, which was quite miniscule to start with. I offered to pay the annual amount in one go, but was immediately shouted down. If I was not sure about attending each meet, why should I pay for them, was the rationale. I did not mind, I tried to reason, but no one was listening to me. My eyes were glued to the wall clock because I had to pick up my daughter from kindergarten and I could not afford to be late.

Seeing me in this distracted state my old schoolmate started reminiscing about our own childhood. We did not have a care in the world, he said. We could do whatever we wanted to because we had no responsibilities, another one chipped in. Life was simple and club memberships were free for each community, my schoolmate reiterated. 

That is not how I remember it, I thought in my head. The membership fee was deducted from the paycheque of our parents and we did have a daily homework responsibility that our nuns took very seriously. The consequences of not delivering that were too scary to recount. 

“We had such a perfect past,” my school friend sighed. 

I looked pointedly at my watch. 

“Our golden age was when we were ten,” he claimed. 

“The best years of our lives are yet to come,” I consoled. 

“The best years of our life are gone,” he muttered. 

“I have to go,” I interrupted.

“Where you going?” he asked. 

 

“To make my future perfect,” I stressed.

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