Every day, on my way to work, I see school children—hardly 4 feet in height, donning a neatly ironed uniform, sporting freshly combed hair and flashing their ID cards on their chests. Tiny tots tottering away to school; oblivious to the mad, erratic, and self-consumed world around them. I’m assuming that their day starts with the school assembly where they would pray to the Almighty, sing the National Anthem and then match decibels to the school song. (At least that’s what we did back in our time.) And after the assembly is over, they’ll file out to their classrooms where they would learn poems, tables, maps, and also learn to share their lunchboxes. That’s life at its best. Wouldn’t you agree?

After I’m done smiling at a childhood walking to school, I find myself to be a part of the throngs of people making their way to work. I see hordes of people waiting to jump into a train. I see people dodging the morning sunlight, while waiting for a bus that is already full. Everyone has a different morning activity. Some read prayer books, some listen to music (the most common activity), some sleep, some read the newspaper and some just look around. All of us are waiting—for a day to begin, for files to open, for meetings to take place, for bosses to nitpick, for yet another day of looking forward for the clock to strike six post-meridian. Shouldn’t life be a little more exciting? Ah, well, it’s a routine, I remind myself.

As I step into my workplace, it’s the same routine each day, so much so that I just know what’s coming. The security guard at work wishes me a ‘Good Morning’ with a bright smile on his face—I wash off the dust I’ve collected on my way—we have breakfast laden with arguments about a certain piece of news in the TOI—work—lunch —post-lunch walk—work—a pseudo tea-break—some chit chat as and when it’s required—smoke breaks (where the others smoke, I don’t)—a little more work—and once again I join thousands of people making their way back home. How predictable!

On my way back, I see a small boy begging at the steps of a footbridge in Chembur. His jaw is grotesquely dislocated, and he sits in the same position, in the same place, each night. Every night I wonder—did someone do that to him so that they could send him to beg? Deep in my heart I do hope not. And I just look up at the sky—at God. I have nothing to say to Him.

On the surface of it all, this sounds like a pattern. Everything is definite. Our roles are defined. The phases of our life are clear—school, college, work, marriage, and when we get the time—life itself! Sounds like a perfect design, doesn’t it? We’re so fond of patterns aren’t we? It’s like we were created to uphold them all our lives. And why not? Life is about being practical. We’re here to do something, get somewhere and be someone. Why shouldn’t we? We deserve it! But sometimes I wonder that beneath it all there is so much more. A person, family, passions, hopes, regrets, routines, exceptions, vices, pleasures, treachery, illusions, despair, races and a volley of many more things. After all, life isn’t really as pragmatic as we make it to be. We may have made it to look like a plan. We’ve categorized life’s phases. We’ve bundled people into groups. We’ve put groups together (yet kept them apart) to make a society. All in the name of practicality. All in the name of rationality. It’s all technical. Attend school, get good marks; get into a ‘BIG’ college, get a good placement; work hard, work smarter, climb the corporate ladder…and on and on and on. We’re being a practical race. We’re compartmentalizing things, and what’s more we’re compartmentalizing our feelings!

It hurts? Let go.

It’s embarrassing? Ignore.

Someone broke your trust? Don’t’ trust anyone anymore.

Someone made you happy and the next time did a little less? Don’t expect you silly!

Why? Because it’s practical to do so. We really don’t have the time to get into a hassle.

Hassle tales away time. Precious time. Be sensible. It makes perfect sense. It’s no-nonsense.

We’re being realistic? Oh come on! We’re being illusionary. We’re scared of deviations. We’re scared of feelings. We can’t take them. It’s too much to bear. We’re not strong anymore. We don’t have the capacity for passionate love, nor do we have the strength for killing pain. We shy away. We do. All under the garb of being practical. We are scared of our own tears—we don’t cry. We don’t have the capacity to love deeply—we are afraid of pain. We don’t have the capacity to trust—we are fearful of a broken heart. We don’t exhibit what we feel—we are anxious of being laughed at. What’s more? All of us, every single one of us is joining the practical brigade. In reality, we’re all turning to accepting that we’re frightened.

How many times have you heard a person saying, “I don’t care”? Look carefully, you’ll see a person saying, “I’m scared to care.”

– Sameen