Three years and three months back- I was on a train that was taking me away from Bangalore. Thanks to a horrible dean and some creatively unsatisfying choices, I had been banished from this kingdom of free will.
As much as the reasons for my erstwhile exile from this city are important, they’re not essential to the flow of the narrative about September. The train that connects Bangalore to Nagpur has a lot of intermediate stoppages. It’s an extremely tiring route- also pretty long, and covers almost a distance that many people do not get to travel in a lifetime. That fact still didn’t give me any solace back then; I was leaving Bangalore. I was leaving her behind me.
she was the city. bangalore. bangalore didn’t love me anymore!
Aboard the train, my thoughts revolved primarily about her reaction to the news of me having been taken away from this city. I tried not to focus on the blaring music through my headphones. I tried not to think about how many weeks or months would run by, before i would get to suckle on a cigarette. I tried to push my thoughts away from my friends, my city- everything that life stood for. I tried really hard, but I couldn’t get bangalore out of my head. She just wouldn’t move.
In times of trouble, we humans tend to look around for inspiration- like hungry eagles, scouting around a forsaken graveyard for traces of rotten flesh. We have a raw, natural tendency to look at a beggar and tell ourselves that we’re better off; We look at a really happy family and we tell ourselves that we can get there.
Optimism keeps us alive.
In such moments of optimism, We often try to let go of our emotions- We release a leash that we had carefully woven around ourselves, to keep our souls free from envy, anger and hatred. We tend to embrace despair. We try to tell ourselves that the pain was meant to be there. We try to focus on statements like “What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger”.
We try to watch movies like “Shawshank Redemption” and read books like “A Prisoner of Birth” to keep ourselves strong. We think of lines like “Hope is a good thing. And a good thing never dies”.
I did all of that. Perhaps, a little more than i can recall now.
But what struck me deep down, as i boarded the train- was the fact that I was still Eighteen. I had lost nothing in life so far. I had one thing and one very crucial thing at that, to my advantage. Time.
I think it was June or July when this was happening, I don’t remember very well I’m afraid… and as i sat on the train, the sight of a crippled man weighing his chances of making money on a hot afternoon couldn’t budge me. The picturesque landscape of Bangalore city flying past me through the window; into an indefinite timewarp; didn’t bother me at all.
I focused on the song that started playing next, and I had tears. Real, wet ones. But i was happy when i was crying.
It was that track by Greenday.
“Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up, When September Ends”.