Looking For Peace

I sat on the grass for a long time. It felt like it, as I breathed every second that passed. The grass felt comfortable under my butt and thighs. Like a carpet? No, I’m a Mumbai girl, I’m not used to carpets. The park is full of little mounds and grassy gradations and the contours of this patch of land fit comfortably under my legs. I don’t remember the last time I tasted comfort like this.

I was facing the jogging track and people walked by me, heads angled in front, not a glance here or there, focused on building up their heart rate and burning their calories. It was odd to be ignored quite like that. How have I not noticed it earlier? Maybe because I’ve been one of them. Truly, we city people miss the lovely things right before our eyes as we chase after other things.

How often I myself have pounded down this same track, my feet keeping up with my thoughts, an Ipod plugged into my ears or a phone conversation happening in parallel. I’ve been running away from things that are too much bear, rushing through conversations that must be had. And that’s exactly what I see written on all the faces that whip past me on the track today. I hope they find their peace. I really hope. It’s all around, abundant and just waiting to be experienced.

Last month I carried anger and indignation inside me, frothing like a bottle of coca-cola in the backseat of a car that’s zoomed down one of Mumbai’s roads. It rose inside me, threatening to burst forth from my lips and eyes any minute. Any damn minute right now. And I struggled to contain it, to settle it. My best friend had thrown a tantrum when I spoke up for the first time in 15yrs. Another friend had spoken up for the first time in 12yrs and burst forth with things that had little to do with the occasion. The irony of the two events happening in the same week was not lost on me. While I labeled the first one a tantrum, I called the second one an excessive and uncalled for response. I was torn between the two and my anger at the end of it was the stress I felt torn between the two diverse roles I played in these events.

Then there was the person who wanted me to work for him for free. Worst of all was his condescending attitude, an impression of ‘You’re not working so let me give you something worthwhile to do’, an air of doing me a favour by letting me do his work. I wanted to toss it all in this face and flounce out angrily but of course I didn’t. Seething, seething, seething.

Then, an ex- told me that I was just the same as ever, everlastingly full of angst. But he laughed as he said it, just as he always has. And I realized even if he were right, it didn’t matter anymore. I am just myself that’s all.

And A jauntily told me that it was a good thing to replace one’s friends. Relationships outgrew their purpose too and permanence was overrated, he said. There’s some solace to be drawn from that. Can I then let go of all the shackles that hold me back without fear? We hold the keys to our own handcuffs and we hold it with tight, fierce desperation.

It’s time to breathe. A deeeeeeeep breath. And let go.

Yesterday the temple was crowded, as it always is on Saturdays. I found a relatively empty spot and sat down to collect my thoughts. Ten minutes later, when I was walking down the road, a young man passed by and said something. I unplugged my earphones and stared back. He said,

When you were doing your puja, you looked very peaceful and serene. It felt good to see that.

And he walked away. Peace, happiness, contentment, so elusive. I think I’ll stop trying to figure out how to get them and keep them. I’ll just stay in them when they do occur.

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