Some lame, philosophical stuff…

Eighteen years and two months – that was the time I got with him before my little fledgling learned to fly, and flew away to learn about life.  When a child leaves the nest, a vacuum settles in that refuses to leave.  Day in and day out you miss him, and soon the missing becomes as much a part of you as he is.  I miss his towering presence, his tortured thought process, his disdain for conventions.  I miss his quick hugs, the casual way in which he would use my shoulder as his arm-rest, even his annoying pokes.  I miss his occasional anger tantrums that would end with a lot of soul searching on both his part and mine. There are countless other things I miss about him, but most of all, I miss our ‘lame philosophical conversations’ on subjects as varied as the tenth dimension, teenage psychology and what happened in school (his or mine) that day.

Though I am extremely grateful for it, half an hour once or twice a week over an often disrupted Skype connection is hardly enough to make up for all those hours of verbal sparring that used to be a regular part of my life.  His course is as demanding as (if not more so than) my job is, so nowadays we have to make, not get time to talk. But we do manage, somehow. And each conversation we have leaves me a little richer, a slightly better person than I was.

“Ma (the A of the Amma usually gets swallowed), what is success?” He asked me the other day. Our conversation was picked up from where we had left it off another time. “What if my needs are smaller?  What if I need less to keep me happy – if I’m happy with what I earn doing what I love doing, regardless of what the world thinks?  Wouldn’t I still be a success?“  As usual, he left me with a lot to chew on.  This came from a teenager who is content with two pairs of jeans and one pair of fraying cargoes, paired with a few un-ironed T-shirts – and one who thinks of travelling from Bangalore to Kochi sitting on the floor of the second class railway compartment as an experience that should not be missed.

It took a while, but I did get his point.  I should too, considering.

Considering that around fifteen years ago, I quit the job that was then considered the epitome of success without a thought of what would happen afterward.  I traded a safe, solid job in the State Bank of India for nothing at all.  I paid no heed to all the good advice and words of caution from my well-wishers. And boy did I pay for it!  Years and years of struggle followed.  The worst part is I still feel no real regret about it – except when I think of the salary and low-interest loans that I missed.

Now once again, I’m on the brink of leaving a regular job for an unknown future.  There are a lot of vague ideas in the head, but nothing that I can state looking my well-wishers in the eye.  Once again, it’s going to be a struggle.  “I’m scared,” I confess to my better half, “what about all those bills?” “Things will work out,” he assures me, as he always has.  He has stood by me, to a fault. My boys are thrilled about my decision to quit.  They too assure me that I need to.

“What are you planning to do after March?” ask my well-wishers.

I have no clear answer.  Spend some quality time with my younger one?  Play scrabble with him occasionally? Read and write?  Paint?  Cook?  Tutor some students?  I don’t know.

Being successful is one thing no one can accuse me of.  But then, what is success?

“Success is what Bill Gates got,” says my younger one, looking over my shoulders and reading what I had just written.  I can’t wait for him to grow up so that we can have some ‘lame (‘cool’, not ‘lame’, he corrects me) philosophical conversations’ together.

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12 thoughts on “Some lame, philosophical stuff…

  1. Are we becoming the couple who communicate through emails?! No, not by a long shot, but after reading this entry I had to write this: success, as Appu, told you, is not about how much you make, or achieving something people say is the benchmark. It’s doing a job well, and more than that, doing it to the best of your ability. Whatever you’ve chosen to do so far – banking, designing, teaching, writing or painting – you’ve given it your best shot and earned the respect of your peers. That is the true measure of success. Keep on at whatever you really want to do, and I am sure material success too will follow.

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  2. Counting UFOs

    Accha, you typed the last comment in through Ammas account. So, basically, it looks like she’s having a conversation with herself.

    Also, Amma, I love you. I think success is what you call it. So go ahead and do exactly what you need to. And I miss our conversations as much. But what I miss the most is how when we do talk now, because of how much there is to say, the little details are often skimmed over. I liked those little things.

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  3. Sudeesh Yezhuvath

    Mini, I came across your blog today when my wife showed it to me. Wonderful style,I should say. Just read the first post only, will come back for more. I am not sure whether you would recall me. We were class mates at Vijaya Matha. I too used to live in Nallepilly in those days. Keep writing! Regards. Sudeesh.

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    1. Hi Sudeesh. Yes, I do remember you now – but the picture that comes to my mind is of a lanky adolescent in brown shorts and cream shirt. 🙂 A very different one from the one I see on the FB. I have one more person now on my list of people to meet the next time I come home.

      Thank you for not just taking time to read, but also comment on my writing. It means a lot to me. And do convey my regards and thanks to your wife too.

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  4. jithu

    Success is a journey towards goals by learning from failures and difficulties without losing enthusiasm.your passionate goals? Search for that truth.

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  5. I just read through all the comments, and I honestly don’t have anything to add as far as definitions for ‘success’ go.

    I guess I just want to congratulate you. In my eyes, the understanding you have about life, though not as easily quantifiable as material achievements, is just as valid a reflection of a life well lived.
    And maybe that’s not an end in itself, but I’d like to think that’s part of success. 🙂

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