Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Mighty and the Damned

To start with, I would like to share that I am an avid reader. I love reading books - they are literally my best friends. Give me a book and a properly brewed cup of ginger tea, and you will find me purring contentedly on my couch for an entire weekend - with no need for cell phones, television or even a laptop. And like all book lovers, I absolutely adore reading classic literature. I will not be so impertinent as to say that it is easy for me - indeed, some of the famous literary works such as Ulysses and Illiad took me a long time to finish. The language and the subtle meanings hidden in every sentence was quite heavy, and it took me a long time to thoroughly read and appreciate them. But every time I turned over the last page of a classic, it gave my heart immense joy and a strange kind of a satisfaction - a feeling one usually gets after he/she accomplishes something noteworthy - like running a marathon, or losing X kgs. It is like a gorgeous hangover - one in which I keep going over the stuff I read and perceived. A feeling, due to which I often tend to dissolve into thoughtful meditation for several days until I am ready for the next book, the next adventure.

These books, these great works of literature aren't great because of their fabulous story lines. Most of these stories are very simple, and can be summarised in less than 4 lines. The reason why these books have been acclaimed to be classics, the reason why generation after generation falls in love with the magic woven by these great authors - is that the way these insignificant stories have been narrated, the way simple yet extraordinary characters have been portrayed. 

These books contain pearls of wisdom about human nature, about the course of life, and about the world in general. The insights described by these authors are indeed spell binding - it makes every reader pause and think... for several seconds. It compels the reader to go through the same lines, the same paragraphs, the same verses several times - only to find a new insight, a new truth, a new perspective and a new learning. In simple words, these books are classics because they make the reader wonder about their own life, and enable him/her to draw worthy conclusions. Even if these books may not practically answer the questions which may plague the reader at any level, they do help the reader develop a perspective which may not have been possible to attain easily.

If anyone is a big fan of reading classic literature - such as George Orwell, Rabindranath Tagore, the Bronte Sisters, etc. - you will probably agree with my observation that in most of these books, the tone is of desolation, despair, hopelessness, and the selfishness of human beings which tend to make the lives of the protagonists miserable. Jane Eyre lives a miserable, thankless life in-spite of being intelligent for her time and brave (until of course, the happy ending), Agnes Grey too has a similar life till the end of the story, Odysseus goes through trails and agony for several years until he is reunited with his family, Dorothy (of 'The Clergyman's Daughter' by George Orwell) goes through several horrible incidents for no fault of hers, and so on. 

However, I also observe that most of these protagonists are loners. The reason why most of the classics in the modern age are considered "serious" is because they have this aura of despair and hopelessness. I often wondered if it was the romanticising of destitution, wretchedness and poor fate which made the protagonists of these stories such strong characters. I mean - there is a pattern. None of these characters would have reached the climax of the story - wherein their character develops a steel coating and emerges victorious after all the crap they have gone through. It made me wonder - are these characters someone who we all secretly ache to be? 

Even modern literature echos these thoughts - although on a.... let's just say.... different - level. Take Superman, Spiderman, Batman, etc. for an example. All these characters were ordinary losers like you and me.... maybe even worse, because they went through stuff which no one, under normal circumstances, could overcome. If Peter Parker wasn't bitten by a spider which gave him superpowers, he would have probably become a boring corporate guy, working at a menial job where everyone takes advantage of his "eager to please" nature, forever playing second fiddle to his richer friend who would ultimately end up marrying the woman of his dreams (and hated every second of his existence. Some advanced authors would have even probably developed his character into that of a psychotic mass murderer). If Bruce Wayne wasn't a rich guy, he would have probably succumbed to the path of drug addiction or crime, and died a meaningless death in some godforsaken alleyway, just because the path of struggling for life's basics would have been ingrained in his persona. If Superman wasn't an alien, he would have just been an ordinary kid, with ordinary talents.... and would have led an ordinary life. 

Closer home - even Ranbir Kapoor in Rockstar echoes this sentiment - he says that since he has led a very ordinary life, devoid of tragedy and pain, his voice lacks the quality required to really strike a chord in people's hearts. So great was his epiphany.... that he went the extent of looking for tragedy. And when he did acquire what he wanted, he accomplished his goal. Unfortunately, by then, his goals and priorities had changed, and he found that he had taken a lot more than he had bargained for. Aditya Roy Kapoor in the movie Aashiqui 2 is a hopeless alcoholic. But it was his undying love for the art (and later the woman) which made him get over himself and mould another individual.... develop a legacy which he could leave behind. Even, to the extent of making him give the ultimate sacrifice. In an alternate universe - what would have happened if he wasn't an alcoholic? What would have happened if Rockstar (Ranbir Kapoor) would have just been a maestro at the vocal arts - much like Sachin Tendulkar in the field of cricket?  (BTW - I am NOT undermining Mr. Tendulkar in anyway - I think the man is a real inspiration to all of us who would love to follow our dreams and passions.)

However - after further thought, it occurred to me that the common factor in all these characters was not their tragic lives. It was their loneliness. It was the fact that all of these great characters who generations will continue to love and adore and identify with (on some level) is that they were all lonely people, with no real friends. Even if they did have any family or friend, they had eventually been deserted, at some point. And that, in my opinion is where the greatest difference between them and us lies.

Don't get me wrong. These characters had friends and family. But they were loners - because they chose to deal with their problems alone, rather than take the support of their friends and family. THAT is the real difference between a loner and everyone else (who isn't a loner). The underlying trait between all these people is that unlike common behaviour, they chose to deal with their situations alone. They never asked for help. In fact, even when some faithful, well meaning friends offered help, they shunned them - simply because they believed in something else, something which common people would never understand, some values which they held of their own, some fire within themselves which they refused to extinguish. They marched to their own drummers, they danced to their own tunes, they created their own destiny. 

Modern literature authors (creators of Spiderman, Superman, Batman, etc) chose to add a touch of fantasy. These characters were lonely too - if you notice, none of them had any real friends who would stand up with them and give them a safe haven while the bullshit ravelled around them. (I am not going to explain this with examples - just think about it). I have no idea why the authors did it - maybe these writers were more cynical and thought that only miracles could create invincible characters. Maybe, they wanted to create cool, awesome characters which everyone WANTED to be, as opposed to classic literature authors where they developed strong characters who adapted to their situations.

The minute I realised this, I felt blessed. Because, I realised that I don't need to have the strength of Jane Eyre, the resilience of Odysseus, the powers of Superman or the wealth of Batman. I don't, and I may never develop these strengths. Like everyone else, like these characters, I too, may go through all kinds of crap. For example, I may lose my job. My dreams may shatter, or a loved one could be lost. I may get into a horrific road accident and lose my limbs/sight. A terminal disease. Some world catastrophe. I may never find the love of my life. Or I may have to spend all my life living in rented apartments, with no proper plan for the future. I have no idea - shit happens, and it happens to everyone. 

The rampant poverty in our society, the hungry kids I see around me, the poor teenagers living in slums begging shamelessly for clothes or discarded mobiles, the diseased dying on the streets, the overworked autowala who, in a moment of frustration raises his hand on his infant daughter, the couples huddling under tarp in freezing winters/rains.... all of this will continue around me, and I will probably never be able to help them in any significant way. 

I know for sure that I will probably never obtain super powers or wealth or wealthy significant others like the characters in the stories which will enable me to make any difference in my own, or in any one else's life. I am just me - boring, helpless, me.... and the thought sometimes makes me feel terrified. Terrified, that I have been given an easy life (relatively), a sound mind, and a healthy body - and yet, I would probably be less than useless in the face of any calamity - be it in my own or in anyone else's life. 

But then, my second observation brightens the bleak background. I realise that unlike the protagonists in these stories - I do have something which they don't. And that's friendship. I have friends. Friends and family who I can blindly count on, no matter what the situation is. Friends and family who have supported me always. They have celebrated like maniacs for the ups in my life (no matter how insignificant or silly), and have held my hand and comforted me when life was totally kicking my ass. And That knowledge gives me a strength - a feeling of invincibility which probably even Batman, Superman or Odysseus did not have - because they weren't surrounded by family and friends who were even half as wonderful as mine.

And that single realisation sets me free. It makes me realise that life can go any way. After all, it is life, and it has to go in some way. But in this unpredictable journey, I am not alone. And that single truth probably makes me even more powerful, more invincible, and stronger than all fictional heros/heriones put together. 

Everything's gonna be OK. Eventually. It is my firm belief - a faith which sets me free, and allows me to live happily. And here, I would like to tell you too (in case you have any doubts at the moment) - that you may be going through shit too. You may be going through breakups/divorces, difficult moments in career, annoying people who make your lives hell for no good reason, painful health issues, losses in family/friends, business problems, identity issues...... but please rest assured ...... that it will be alright. Not because you found a miracle, or a rich partner, or won a lottery, or obtained super human powers. You will be OK... you will get past this..... simply because.....

You aren't alone.

P.S. - If you aren't convinced and still harbour cynical thoughts, just google phrases like "importance of reaching out", "power of friendship", etc. I am soooooo not getting into that!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Infinite

She's fiery. She's beautiful. She's the best woman you have ever known. She's warm, she's nurturing... She's your childhood best friend.. She's who you wanted to be and more.

She's the essence of the fire we call pure.. She's the warmth of the sunlight we grew up with. Her smile is the forever we knew ... Her forever is our childhood that was pure.

She's infinite.. She expands in every direction. She smiles our worries away, she laughs our sorrows apart.. Her tears Are our heartaches expressed.. Her beauty is like the spirit of the earth... Pure, natural, older than time and yet so ahead of our future. She is limitless.. She is who we want to be. Her hair ... Long and golden... Are the threads of happy times... Her eyes are the pranks we played in our childhood. Her smile is heavenly... Golden like the sun, and serene like the moonlight. Her passion is our spirits combined into one. She loves like no other.... She hates no one.. Her thoughts are pure like the waters of the Himalayas... Her love.. Her love is the essence of everything that is true.

She is my best friend. I love her & worship her. Her tears are priceless.. Yet I stand helplessly.. As they flow for an unworthy.

I call thee unworthy now... Cuz thou hast no inkling of the treasure you behold. Indeed.. It is a shame upon our times... Such a woman is cast aside.

She is precious like sapphires melting in ice on mountain tops. She is rare.. As a golden rose smiling in the sunlight. Her warm heart... So big and pure.. Calls for love that is as innocent as a baby's smile... Yet as seductive as a cauldron of diamonds. She is truly infinite... Her virtues extend into every direction ahead of time... To understand her, your heart needs to acquaint itself with the gravity of love.

Her love is undefinable, unquestionable... Infallible. To attain such unquestionable love is truly an achievement of the noblest of humans.. The gentlest of hearts.. The most virtuous of warriors.

Embrace her... Love her. Lose yourself in her. And maybe then... You would find yourself worthy of that gentle heart.

Hurt her, let her noble tears drop to the ground.. And you would be in great consequence... For hurting such a noble love is besmirching the very blessings of the enlightened one himself.

Monday, March 9, 2015

My reflection - My self - My alter ego - Myself

You are just like me. We control. We fight. We bulldoze our way into things we feel that’s right. We follow our hearts. Endlessly. To the point where other people tell us that we are crazy, and that we are just hurting ourselves. But that’s just us.

We are crazy. We are wild. We dance to the tune of a single drummer – and that is ourselves. We are bound by our hearts. Our hearts guide us through the boredom of routine. Yet, we clutch on to routine – cuz it’s the only thing that keeps is sane. We realize – we are borderlines. We have no limits. We realize that we are bound – and we try and break free. We are restlessly, endlessly, struggling – to make ourselves visible among a bunch of peas in a pod.

We try and confirm. We try to convince everyone that we are trying. We try to smile at people who we don’t really care about – in the hope that we may be proved wrong by all those wise people in society. We fear that our loved ones will die in the knowledge that they couldn't do by us. We want them to be happy – but we also realize that we cannot lie to ourselves. And in this anguish, we end up hurting ourselves.  

Other people try being us. They copy our attitudes, our hairstyles, our tattoos, our speech, our wild selves. They make a poor show – they end up being self conceited assholes, who true to their own nature, cannot care two hoots about another human. But the one thing they just cannot copy – is us. We are unpredictable. We are insane. We have no limits. We don’t care about what other people think. We respond to just a single judge – the sound of our own conscience. We are just… us.

We follow a different star. We have our own standards – and no matter how illogical we sound, or how logical they do – we realize its crap. Our standards are far above the average. We don’t do good deeds to make ourselves (or people at the temple) happy. We don’t try to score brownie points through good deeds. In fact – we try being our darker selves. We use our darker selves as a camouflage.

People are afraid of us. They are afraid of our righteous voices. They can’t control us – because we don’t really care about what people think. We know that we are right, and we plough on. That’s just us.

But what is it between us? Why can’t we see each other? Why do I hurt you so much…. Why do I roller-blade your feelings? And why do you use every single opportunity to hurt me with your indifference? Why do you pull yourself away? Why cant you understand that I was sent here because I am just like you? Why don’t you realize that we were meant to be?

Why are we ignoring each other? Both of us together could be formidable – we could rule the world. We could – because we are both exactly alike – just the way god intended us to be. But why are we so scared?  

Who are we? If god intended us to be, why are we holding back?

It is fear that is holding us back. The past has not done anything to help us – instead, it holds us back.
But I have faith --- the one thing the past hasn't conquered.

I don’t know if you have kept yours. But I will pray for you, and for myself…. And for all that I think we withhold.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Being a man – not so easy in a woman’s world

Believe it or not… it is true. This article is dedicated to all those wonderful guys we know. They are our friends, colleagues, relatives – amazing, sweet, loving guys who selfish bitches like ourselves always fail to recognize.

Being an independent, self reliant woman is really tough. All women in this category will agree. We struggle everywhere to make ourselves heard – at work, at home, and everywhere else. We struggle, day and night. We watch as our bosses readily take the same advice earlier given by ourselves from male colleagues, we watch as male colleagues judge divorced women from other teams – knowing fully well that the women are really sweethearts. We watch as they mess up FB entries of women totally out of their league, and we watch as men on the streets abuse their wives or daughters. We watch – and we grow angry. A relentless, growing anger that is like a bottomless pit – there seems to be no respite. And it is this anger which makes us summon up all of our defenses. An anger so great, so strong, so vivid, that we completely forget that not all men are jackasses.

I am now talking about men who are struggling – to live in a world full of women like ourselves. Men, who have to constantly battle our distrust. Men, who realize that bimbos are not worth their time, that smart, independent are fantastic, men who even appreciate women and their achievements, who treat us as their equals. Unfortunately, we never acknowledge them. These are your friends, your brothers, your father, your colleagues – just look around you, they are everywhere. Sweet, uncomplicated guys, whose lives we screw with in our anger.

These are the men who truly and honestly believe that there is absolutely no difference between themselves and women (except of course, biologically). These are men, who understand (vaguely, albeit), how annoying menstrual cramps can be, and exactly how we feel when it comes to shopping, love, sweets, or babies. These are guys who are sensitive to feelings, and although they may show it poorly – they do care. These are the guys who will make complete fools of themselves just to see you smile on a difficult day. The guys, who will hold your hand and tell you to not worry when you are dying in pain. The guys, who will tell you funny stories when you are low. Guys, who will tell you that you are wonderful, no matter how badly you may have misbehaved. Guys, who will drive you home safely (without acting condescending) when you are drunk out of your brains (even if they may not support drinking). Men, who love you no matter what. Men, to whom you shall always be a princess. Men, who will stick by you no matter what. You grow a beard, have a child out of wedlock, have a tantrum and yell obscenities, give up your job, lose yourself over heartbreak – it just doesn't matter. They will be there for you.

But what do we do? We take these guys for granted. Even if there was ONE stupid occasion when we called them and they couldn't answer or couldn't show up – we put them in the “jackass” files. We completely forget all those times when they were there for us. We think “Ah, he’s a guy. They are all the same”. Thoughts like “Oh common, he’s human, he deserves a life, a second chance” are generally reserved by us for idiots who have a record of ruining our lives with their chapters of jerk-itude. Why do we think this way? Why can’t we reverse the treatment? What the hell is wrong with us? Why do we behave like men with wonderful guys, and like pathetic whining slobs with complete jerks?

If you are reading this, and if there is even one guy (or man) coming into your brain, then count your blessings. There are a lot of women in this world who have known nothing but rejection, pain and abandonment. There are more women, who have lost people – people who couldn't handle their personalities under certain circumstances. Count your blessings – if you have found even one. This man is leading a difficult life. He loves, worships & adores you – and his guy friends - the MCPs - probably think he is a weenie, at least as far as you are concerned. However, it doesn't change his beliefs, or the way he thinks about you. Prize him, love him, thank him, and don’t ever hurt him – cuz you can’t afford to lose him.

I am very lucky – I have a lot of wonderful guys in my life. My dad, my bro-in-law, some of my colleagues & my buddies – there are no words to describe how much I love you all. Thank you for being you.

You make me feel special.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Voice of My Soul

Today, I couldn’t stop thinking of an incident that had happened when I was in 3rd grade. I had joined a new school the previous year, and was still getting used to the fact that none of the kids around me spoke Hindi. They could only talk in Telugu or broken English, and since I did not know Telugu at all, I chose to speak to everyone in English. It made me stand out, and as a result, I was the subject of scorn and ridicule. I hardly had any friends, was constantly bullied, and was desperately trying to fit in. In the midst of my misery, my house mistress decided to put in my name for the Hindi poem recitation competition. My mother immediately jumped to my rescue – she brought a poem from someone she knew and slaved all evening to help me to recite it perfectly. Since I was blessed with a good memory, it took me very little time to memorize the poem. My mother then spent the rest of the evening in helping me practice the recitation.

I went to school the next day. As the competition began, I was terrified due to snide remarks from the other kids. Then I noticed that most of the other kids who were participating were terrible. They had all memorized the same poem – the first one in our Hindi text book, and were struggling to remember and pronounce the words correctly. Some of them just shook their head and went back to their seats. This elicited huge gales of laughter from all other kids – I saw that most kids found the floundering kids pathetic, while the ones who gave up were apparently, hilarious. So when it was my turn, I just shook my head and went back to my seat. The judges (our impatient teachers) quickly announced the winners, and made them come up to the front. I was shocked to see the “winners” - they were actually terrible. But they had won prizes since they were the only ones who could at least get through at least 2 verses of the poem.

After the results were announced, we broke for recess. Images filled my mind. My mother spending her entire evening to teach me the poem, and to help me practice. Images - in which, instead of acting like a stupid jerk, I was confidently reciting my poem much better than anyone else who won. Images of me – head raised, shoulders squared, smiling with the pride of a winner. I broke into helpless sobs, and no matter how much the other kids or teachers tried, I just could not be consoled. I cried endlessly the whole day until I reached home. Shamefacedly, and till sobbing, I told my mother the whole thing as I sobbed at the floor. I could not bring myself to look into her eyes and see her disappointment in me. I did not understand my own feelings then, but the guilt of wasting my mother’s efforts, of hiding my own talent, of letting my mother & myself down, and of not having made use of the opportunity when I had it was weighing very hard on my 8 year old conscience.

My mother consoled me like no one else could – probably because she could understand exactly how I felt, and what I needed at that moment. However, that moment was definitely one of the most important ones of life – as I learnt the most valuable lesson of all. That incident, among many others, helped me become what I am today. The memory of this incident makes me seize every single opportunity I get and give it my best shot today. This memory reminds me that while it is definitely easier to blend among the crowd and be a part of it by being mediocre, the worst insult I could ever give myself is to actually want to act mediocre. Today, I don’t care at all about whether or not I fit in with everyone else around me. I embrace my individuality, my own uniqueness, even if it comes at a cost. Undermining my own worth is not something which my soul will allow me to do. I strive to be the best at anything and everything I do – at least, I give it an honest try. For, anything that I do should always be at the best possible level to which my abilities allow me. If that makes me insanely competitive, then so be it – because anything less would be the worst way in which I could humiliate my own self. The voices of other people – be it of praise or rejection – matters very little compared to the voice of my soul. This is the only voice, the only opinion that really matters.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Nap to Forget. The Strength in our Earth.

Seems random? Not so much.

Bored with non-fiction, I decided yesterday to go to my favorite bookstore for some fun browsing and coffee. I was going through some books, when I came upon a few titles in the Romance genre. I flipped through their summaries – and many of them had a recurring theme. About an average young guy or girl, and how cynical and normal their lives are. But when one of them contracts a terminal illness, it transforms their personality and attitude. In some of these books, the lead characters find their true love after they contract a terminal illness, and it is this love which helps them fight all odds and rise above the challenges. All of the books had one thing in common – it is only after being faced with the possibility of death, do the lead characters realize the true meaning and value of life.

Most people will feel that such books and movies are very touching, and I know a lot of people who find themselves in tears. These stories are indeed touching at times, because in real life, when a person is in the horrible situation of being terminally ill or permanently injured, he or she will find that life changes completely. Some of them are lucky, and survive through their pain with terrific support from family or friends. Many others find that most of their old friends start avoiding them and drift apart. Most people are generally uncomfortable dealing with such situations, and don’t know what to say when they happen.

A lot of people with terminal illnesses, especially women, have also reported that their spouses don’t give them the support they need, and automatically assume the worst. Many women have been abandoned by their spouses after being diagnosed with cancer. Their husbands feel that any time or money spent on them is simply going to be wasted. Even if the doctors suggest alternative courses of treatment which give some hope of survival, they feel that it the bet is too risky, and pull out. Thus, they move away and try to start a new life with healthier partners. So, to people who have been abandoned by friends and family, these stories are indeed inspiring. These stories teach healthy people what is expected of them when a loved one falls ill or gets permanently injured. They give hope to people who are sick or injured – that someday, they too will find the love and emotional support they need to embrace life and feel the will to live.

Personally, I absolutely, from the bottom of my heart, detest these stories. I feel that they are incredibly stupid, unnecessarily soppy, and full of shit, apart from being a little insensitive (unintentionally, of course). Firstly, I feel that it is insensitive to romanticise a life threatening disease. I mean, when I love someone – a friend, a spouse, a relative – anyone for that matter, I love them for who they are. I try to make sure as much as possible that they know exactly what I feel about them. If they need me, I will make damn sure that I am there for them. If there is anything which I can do to make them feel happy in any way, or if there is something I can do to help them achieve their dreams, I would definitely do so.

My point is – why wait until someone falls terminally ill to do this? Is expressing your love really that difficult for you? If it is, then I am sorry – but you probably don’t deserve to have such relationships at all. I mean – that movie “A Walk to Remember” is considered to be a giant romantic classic. But why? What if the girl did not have cancer? What if she was perfectly normal? Would the guy have tried to fulfill her dreams any way? I don’t think so. They would have probably dated for a while, but would have eventually drifted apart. He wouldn’t have married her to fulfill her dream of being married in her mother’s white dress. He wouldn’t have spent that much time writing long sappy wedding vows. He would have probably never even felt so much in love with her. They would have been just an average teenage couple whose story, in all likelihood, would end at prom night. What I want to say here is – is this really true love? Or is it just sympathy? Or some kind of psychosomatic reaction to the fact that his girlfriend’s time was limited – like the way kidnapping victims have Stockholm’s Syndrome? These stories may appear extremely romantic – but reality is starkly different. Watching a loved one suffer is living hell. Suffering from a terminal illness is physically and mentally exhausting – these people rarely have the energy to go on world tours, wear wedding gowns, have babies, or even feel anything at all.

I believe that real love, true love – whatever you call it – is about being there for someone at all times. I feel that if you really love someone, you would do everything you can to make them feel wonderful every day, any day. Taking someone for granted all the time and then suddenly getting all misty eyed when you realize that they may leave you soon - is not love. While it is a wonderful thing to be supportive and loving to a person who may or may not survive, I feel that the movies and books of today forget the most essential point – that love is unconditional, and that mere sympathy is not love. I don’t think that love is so shallow – that its importance is only defined by the existence of an expiration date. Somehow, over the years, we have become so preoccupied with the notion of “I take you in sickness” that we have forgotten about the more crucial “I take you in health” part. Life is indeed short – and it would do us a whole world of good to embrace the fact as soon as possible. We all need to get over ourselves, and learn to love with an open heart and mind. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Door to Happiness

I have heard of people constantly going on about their search for the “One”. About how it is better to end up with somebody, because the alternate is to be completely alone for the rest of one’s life. And thus, the race begins. For women, this quest begins at the age of 4 or 5. All fairytales preach this exact thing – the ultimate goal is to find that perfect someone and live happily ever after.

Some very brave people asked the question – “What if we don’t find anyone? What happens then?” History says that such questions have been met with incredulity, sternness and more often than not – ridicule. The immediate answers to this question would be “Oh dear! You cannot say that! You have to find someone!” or “You don’t want to wind up all alone” or “Would you like to die knowing that there will be no one to mourn you?” And then these brave people are left speechless. As per popular opinion – the speechlessness is a result of self-doubt and disbelief. It is the result of feeling not being quite sure of what to say.

People – gear up. It’s the digital age. It is perfectly fine – to not have found a soulmate. It is perfectly fine, to want to live life on one’s own terms rather than compromise to the extent of losing one’s identity. After all, in today’s world, “Happily ever after” is very hard to find. Mostly, its “compromise and keep adjusting”, or “end up divorced”. I am not ridiculing the idea of love & marriage – some people do find a love that matures over time. People do find lasting companionship – the right mix of passion, friendship and trust. Some others settle for what is available, and find happiness within their circle of influence. They work hard at their relationships, and even if the love loses some of its sparkle over time, they compromise and create a situation for themselves that they are comfortable in.

But what about some others who are not willing to give up? For some, “settling” isn’t a very good option – these are the people who know exactly what they want. And they realize, that they are not willing to settle for anything but dazzles. Society might say that these people are being unrealistic, and that over time, even the greatest, most dazzling love loses some of the sparkle. Logically – society does have a point. Would Romeo and Juliet continue to love each other with their blinding passion if they hadn’t died tragically? Would Cleopatra and Anthony still have the same fiery passion if their love story had ended with marriage and kids?
I now put forth my argument – is it really wrong to expect nothing but the best? Are the IIT aspirants in our country crazy for spending much of their childhood in cramming textbooks? Are the casting directors of movies completely nuts for spending months over finding the right actor to play an important role? Were Picasso and Monet insane for spending sleepless nights to get every brushstroke right? Just like these people, are certain singles wrong for expecting nothing but the best?

In today’s world, there is a new breed of people. I call these people “steadfast singles”. These people realize that their life is fantastic the way it is. They have wonderful friends and family, and great jobs. They are extremely passionate about everything that they do, and have plenty of hobbies that take up all of their free time. These people never feel old – they only feel wiser and better as they grow older. They have wonderful lives, and are perfectly happy in being alone. They dislike being in relationships, because relationships take up too much of their time and energy – which they would rather devote towards their careers or hobbies. There are plenty of successful people in the world who have led wonderful lives without having to settle. There are also plenty of not very successful, but happy middle aged people who are single (either chronic bachelors or divorced) with exciting lives and/or a sense of inner peace.

They say that when one door closes, another opens. I believe that if one door closes, 5 or even 10 other doors open – providing we are willing to keep our eyes open to them, and not just lament about the door that’s closed. When steadfast singles shut the door on the experiences of marriage and parenthood, it is not necessary that misery and loneliness has to follow. They have, in fact, opened their minds to the other wonderful things that life has to offer. They explore the doors to wonderful friendships, great fitness, spiritual awareness, satisfying careers, and extraordinary adventures.

I would like to say something here to people who snort in derision to the idea of being a steadfast single. We have no control over our futures. We can’t change the past. We only have the present, and the present is wonderful – if we choose to see it that way. The digital world has opened a new freedom movement in society – and the entire point of the new movement is to respect individual choices. It is our choice to decide - whether to take the plunge and settle for the next person we find, or to take life as it comes and turn each day into an exciting opportunity. Rather than insisting that “Happily ever after” is the ultimate goal, we should accept the fact that “Being happy each day” is also a great choice.