What Next?

That is a question I can ask myself but cannot answer. Normally it is a question posed to others in anticipation of a well-thought out plan of action that the answerer can lay out. (Before anyone points it out,  let me express my own misgiving about that word i.e. answerer.) But we shall let it go for want of a better word.

Going back, if the query were put to me, I can always come up with an impressive plan that I proposed to implement, but alas, to my detriment I know that the proverb “Man proposes and God disposes” must always be my motto in life. When I look back at my life, most things have happened on their own, without my desire or approval. People have popped into my life of their own volition. Some of them have taught me in their own way lessons of life, some have yet to find themselves.

So have houses.

I will talk only about houses for now. We built our first house with great difficulty and little money. The house itself was beautiful having been built by a dedicated engineer-friend with many suggestions from me. But our limited finances meant that we had to build it in a distant suburb with unpleasant neighbours around and in a generally uninhabitable area, in the hope that twenty years down the line everything would have changed magically. But it did not, and we were happy to sell it in less than twenty years.

The next was an apartment which R. was eager to buy on a relative’s advice and the first time I saw it was a year later. I would not have bought it myself and I did not share R.’s enthusiasm for it, and told him that I would not be living there any time. We sold that too.

Meanwhile I kept pushing R. to buy an apartment in Mumbai. He was still hoping we could live in the other flat but somehow the idea gathered momentum of its own. We went around looking on a Sunday and the next Sunday we had decided to put down a deposit. At the end of it we found ourselves in possession of a Thane flat.

A few years later, we had sold the flat in Chennai and decided to settle down in Mumbai in a bigger flat. Again it took less than ten days for us to look at flats before booking. So here we are.

As A. says, “you just go out to look at flats, and come back having bought one.”

It happened exactly that way again. We thought we might want to move to a smaller city and we did end up buying a place there.

As I was saying, much of this happened without deep thought or meticulous planning. We sold one flat because of a tenant from Hell and bought another one because we desperately needed a place to live in. We bought one flat because R. was forced to go house-hunting as he had mentioned it to someone who took it  upon himself to help. Else R. would have procrastinated and let it go. Having sold one, we managed to pay off the loan on another property before buying a third one, which was a good thing because the clear title helped us secure an educational loan for S. to go abroad.

Now we want to sell our apartment but as they say, the devil is in the details, and we found one obstructing clause that has sent all our plans awry. But no matter, something else might come up. Or perhaps we are not meant to move now.

As D. once said, God does not trust us to make sensible choices in life, so He just plonks us down on a road and expects us to keep walking.

So that is what we will do – keep walking.

A Question Mark

The shortest journey is one never begun. The story of our next journey – which was to have been uniquely our own as we are the only two travellers – is turning out to be somewhat of a question mark. Will we, won’t we? Or rather, can we, and when can we?

It is not even the ideal journey, planned with great enthusiasm and looked forward to with eagerness. In fact, it raises questions in the minds of everyone who is even slightly interested in our welfare. For the rest, it is simply a matter of curiosity and not concern that we are are even attempting it. Those who are deeply indifferent do not bother with it, or with us.

Of course this is about the big move we have been planning from a very large Metro to a small town in the deep South. It all started as a joke, then snowballed into a big decision made without too much thinking, but hopefully one we can live with. We were helped along by various events in our life of course, enough that we were unhappy enough to look for a kind of distance and lose ourselves in the mundane life we could expect in a strange town which would not be too strange. That sounds like a paradox but language and culture carry a comforting familiarity that acts like a cocoon and makes it easier to slip into a feeling of belonging.

We have been carefully keeping our secret for several months now from all but those who need to know – our three children – and those who would not really care about where we were. Those who did not need to be told were people who would be weaving whole stories and embroidering them with their own imagination hoping to hear lurid gossip about us to add to their enjoyment. I had rather hoped to unveil the facts at a time decided by us and shock a few people. That is the Gemini in me!

But  that time, apparently, is not here yet. When we went to the Sai Baba temple on Diwali, I told Him that this was going to be our last Diwali visit here, but now He is having the last laugh. Not yet, He must have thought, without saying anything! All our well-laid plans went awry at the last minute, but we have not been too disappointed because over the years, life has taught us to simply accept and adapt to change.

I am relieved that I can postpone dealing with my fears and perhaps find it easier to move then rather than now. I can have a little more time to clear out my life and set my house and emotions in order. I have more time to learn to become more detached from my feelings, which is after all the main purpose of this move. The physical distance in reality represents the emotional distance from the present and the past.

The truth is that the journey not undertaken is itself a way of learning.

After So Long

This is not going to be a real post. It is more a case of dipping my toe in the water again, to test the cold, and to ease myself into the habit of writing what amounts to little notes or asides to myself and to my one devoted reader.

I have been away, literally and figuratively, from both my home and myself, for the last few months. It was a journey that took me far away and kept me too busy to even think of writing here. So much so that I had trouble logging in, having forgotten my username. To forget one’s name but still remember the password may sound strange but it is easier to hold on to the artificially created word but difficult to remember who I am supposed to be. We create so many images of ourselves to present ourselves to different people that for a moment, it is like being woken up out of deep sleep and losing track of where I am supposed to be. That has happened to me very frequently and I have to consciously remind myself of my current location. So it took me a while to remember that I am actually a nameless person here!

Well, I have been away in many senses of the word. I am back now, but soon it will be time to prepare for a much longer journey. Journeys are longer when there are no plans to return.