Last weekend I stepped into my fourth decade. 40. Leaving behind more than a decade of closet claustrophobia and years of trying to please people and trying to be cool. So, this birthday, I decided it is time to go back home. Home that is Patna. A cozy apartment on Boring Road, with people I would take a bullet for. Home, where I didn’t drink even a drop of alcohol, yet my happy quotient was so high, I would struggle to put it in words. Ma Baba’s love language of food was omnipresent. Dada Boudi were there for a surprise visit. P made a card that sits as a reminder of warmth on my desk. And Kooby drew rainbows which I am yet to get my hands on. Loved ones from far called in with ready over-the-hill and age-is-just-a-number jokes. And Nishu, who has seen my evolution from kindergarten to now was in the middle of it all, with the largest (and poshest) cake I have cut in a while. 🙂 Every time I tell Ma that it is high time she moved to Calcutta from Patna, her usual answer is Patna is home. And I have often given a rebuttal that home is where your people are. I truly believe that but last weekend, I felt a little bit of what she feels. In the old photos on the walls and the tea time at the dinner table, there was something tangibly home-like. Something that’s hard to let go of.
There are few things that the last decade taught me. I guess this is a good time to take stock. The biggest one is to like my own company. Realized that once you know how to enjoy your own company, you choose people in your life for the right reasons, and not because you need them, out of loneliness. The other one is speaking your truth. People who care will stay, and people who don’t stay, never cared enough. Learned to make peace with how things are. It is okay if I am having a bad day. Lost few friends and loved ones on the way, and that too is okay. Feeling hurt is okay. Realized I have immense control issues and my stubborn instinct can put a mule to shame. Long way to go before this gets better, but someone very wise told me that self awareness is the first step. Thirties also gave me a front row seat to human mortality. Loved ones may or may not be there tomorrow. So, do what you need to, today. Call them, visit them, travel with them, let go of grudges and tell them you love them. Does mortality (my own and others’) still scare me? Hundred percent. 🙂 Health gave me a bad report card. My food loving poor metabolism genes and my lethargy added up. Health remains top of my list to work on. And this list won’t be complete without the people who shape me. Learned that the older you grow, the fewer people stick around. An introvert by admission, I have few humans who love me and give me scathing feedback when I make a mistake. Don’t know where I will be without them.
Writing this note for posterity from a cafe in Bangalore. This year is also the year when I have ‘settled down’. This means that I finally gave in and bought a brick and mortar house in a quaint neighborhood in Bangalore. I admit that I am elated. 🙂 Sometimes you don’t know what you want till you get it. I do not believe in love at first sight for humans. But for material things, it is a different story altogether. I walked in to this apartment, saw all the greenery looking back at me and fell in love. So, here I am. A Bangalore resident for now. Working way more than I should be working, but loving it. Building a home I can call my own. Visiting the parentals every other month. Feels light. Feels good. 🙂
As I often do, I am going to end this note with few snippets from a book I just read, which starts with the fact that we humans on an average have four thousand weeks to live.
We recoil from the notion that this is it – that this life, with all its flaws and inescapable vulnerabilities, its extreme brevity, and our limited influence over how it unfolds, is the only one we’ll get a shot at. The idea of the future, pregnant with an infinity of possibilities, is thus more fruitful than the future itself, and this is why we find more charm in hope than in possession, in dreams than in reality.
If you don’t save a bit of your time for you, now, out of every week, there is no moment in the future when you’ll magically be done with everything and have loads of free time. If you plan to spend some of your four thousand weeks doing what matters most to you, then at some point you’re just going to have to start doing it.Four Thousand Weeks, Oliver Burkeman
This is such a heartwarming post! It’s always important to take stock of where we are in life and appreciate the people and moments that make us feel at home. Congratulations on your new house and the lessons you’ve learned over the past decade. Here’s to many more happy years surrounded by loved ones!
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Happy 40th birthday!