In my mind, I have neat little compartments into which I have slotted my past, my present and future. It helps me deal with all that’s happened. I can take a critical look at all my misfortunes, take a deep breath and say “What has happened has happened. You can’t change the past. Accept it and move on. The future is what you make of it”.
Living in Bangalore has also helped a lot. With new surroundings, I can try and forget memories of hospital corridors and painful heartbreak, grim autopsy rooms and pale green death certificates. Most of the legal hassles and red tape has been dealt with. I’m a little older and a little wiser. I feel sorry for the guy I was four years back. He had no idea what was in store for him. I’d like to go back and assure him that he’d survive because back then he didn’t think he could. Chennai belongs to the past.
Which is why when I got off the train at Central Station in Chennai my mental compartments broke down and the contents flowed into each other. Traveling by Auto to a friend’s house to spend the night, I passed sights and sounds, inhaled scents that were so deeply ingrained in me that the dead city came alive in my head. I didn’t know which was real, my new life or my life as a 21 year old. I could have so easily asked the auto driver to take me home, climbed the stairs and walked straight into a life with Amma making dinner in the kitchen, Appa reading the newspaper and snuck into my room to lift the phone and hold a long whispered conversation that would stretch late into the night and yet not be long enough.
I spent the five days in Chennai paying off outstanding bills, visited neighbors, brushing aside “when are you getting married?” questions, attending a friend’s convocation and then finally a bunch of us took a small trip the hills of Yelagiri to spend the weekend. We went boating in the lake and later climbed seven hundred a fifty steps to a small temple atop the hill. While the hills by themselves were pleasant, the journey in the scorching sun left us dull and irritable. Small towns like Ambur and Ranipet that boiled in the sun filled me with loathing. They reminded me too much of my summer internship when I sold candy on the streets. I dislike small towns for being so hot, being so lifeless and being so backward. Why would anyone want to live there?
I was relieved to get back to Bangalore. Chennai was too unreal to be pleasant. I found it hard to walk the streets and not confuse the past with the present. If it wasn’t for the company of my friends, I would have left almost immediately.
I attended Jo’s wedding, laughed and enjoyed the company of my IMT friends. At the moment the Mangal Sutra was tied around her neck, the four of us fell silent and watched as a solitary tear rolled down her cheek. A few moments later she looked up and smiled at us as we rushed up to offer our congratulations. She wasn’t lost to us. Not yet anyway.She bustled about as usual after the reception. She looked just the same.
I took some time to rearrange my compartments and then felt better at the end of it. The city of Bangalore is my present and my future. I’m no longer the guy I used to be…and that’s okay. I may not want to go back but I’m still supporting the Chennai Super Kings.