I remember this journey we made from Dehra Dun back to Delhi. Looking back, I hold fondness for that time - just out of college, nothing to hold me back and a world full of opportunities in front of me. I was with Nijil - this guy who still lives his life as deviant as he did back then! We were two curious folks who were exploring lands we've only read about. While Nijil seemed re-assured of everything, I found myself insecure most of the time (then and now!).
As we moved through more than 11 States in 1 month, I missed home and Amma's food every single day. We slept in railway stations, bus stands, dormitories and dharmasalas; though I wasn't particularly interested to experience the discomfort. We met people, many who I still think of and almost all of them disfigured by my imprecise memory. We saw places, the names I still shout out with pride but the lanes and the winding roads long faded from my fragmented mind. We moved on and I've got to admit that this small act of moving on back then made me the pathetic philosopher I am today!
It was past midnight and most of the people in my bus had already slept. I kept gazing blankly at the darkness. The past few days were indeed harsh for someone like me; who lived in the security of a place to come home to and who had more than sufficient food to live by. The sudden displacement from that zone of comfort into a scenario wherein I'm not even remotely aware of where I will be sleeping that night or whether I will be having at least a packet of biscuit shook the very foundations of my ideas of existence. The things I experienced in Uttarakhand - the crowd in Haridwar and their collective frenzy, the deserted off season of Rishikesh disturbed only by the noise of fighting pigs, the relief I had when the coldness of Mussoorie calmed my conscience and to top it all off, the feeling of nervous expectation born out of a love confessed - every little thing exaggerated my insecurity.
I've got to say, I carried the weight of all that disturbing experience (disturbing in a rather constructive way) as I stepped into that bus back to Delhi. And as my sleepless mind tried entertaining itself with any flying strain of thought, it grasped unceremoniously at an existentialist revelation. To be honest, I didn't really know too much about existentialism back then (do I now?!), and whatever hit me seemed poignant and having profound meanings. There is this self realization you find in moments like these - wherein your self-aggrandisement shatters into bits. For me, I felt small - someone occupying a passing role in the intricate lives of often complicated people. All my concerns, all my troubles seemed to dissolve into a collective human story of suffering and how all of us strive to survive the suffering.
I felt an overwhelming feeling of love that broken, nomadic and damaged people feel for one another. And as my eyes grew damp, I proposed my everlasting love to the decrepit, to my fellow travelers, to the downtrodden and to the ones who smile back at me. I realized (or is it a realization which I feel only upon looking back?) that in most of the journeys we make, the places we see don't matter, it is the moments we make and the things we understand which matters the most.