The golden ball of flame had begun to loom up the horizon when I saw a family of three men, two women and two kids on the terrace of our building. They stared at the sea watching the sun rise from its sapient depths, pointing and conferring. The firebomb looked flushed and had stationed itself like a statue to tune up its brightness. At first, it blushed and then turned a carroty red. Once at ease, it resumed its journey upward in the air transpiring from a glow of tangerine to a summer’s amber. As it left an undetectable trail while rising into the horizon’s heart, its control with the brightness went awry. The exposure and saturation levels began to exceed expectations to the point of becoming unbearable. The unsuspecting carrier couldn’t have been more oblivious to the process, for that’s when the family of seven left the terrace. Probably to head home. This is how mornings – and sometimes, days – used to be spent once upon a time. Being present in the mere nothings, and amidst companionship. Whether in one’s direct bloodline or the next of it.
The need to chronicle ourselves with multicoloured labels has become an insouciant part of us today. It could have started here. A single tag of a service person, a musician, an artist, a teacher, a homemaker, or a student fails to please our ego. We feel stranded with a half-baked identity when we’re asked to describe what do we do, in a single word. We choose to let the question pass than giving a perfunctory response because we can’t meet the only criteria of the answering guidebook – in a single word. We certify that jack of a figure of speech by taking pride in referring to ourselves as generalists. Such self-bestowed testimonials are the trend nowadays – as they say in the West, swag.
We are the kind who’d engage our blood and sweat (tears, in some cases) into making an entrepreneurial venture a success while indulging in our passion for learning music in parallel. Because the former doesn’t yield us with a peace of mind and the latter, as many monetary benefits. We are the type who would be volunteering for an NGO over a weekend while posting a live feed of a reinvented foodstuff like an epicure by night. Because the former is a sideline that we enjoy undertaking, and the latter brings out an edgy connoisseur in us. We are the ones who would plan an itinerary to travel for a sunrise at the tip of our country while avoid soaking in the same-process-of-the-same-golden-ball-looming-up-the-same-way in our city. Because the former grants us a social status and the latter sounds relatively plain Jane.
Social media profiles layer our existence by allocating omnipotent space to ‘describe ourselves’. Our reciprocating sentiments are no less than dilemmatic, for we find quilting into those blanks tricky. We fill the room with eye-catching expressions that serve the sole intent of drawing as much attention to ourselves. I’m no exception. An isolated tag does not rationalise our existence on this planet and hence, what we do by day and nights, the things we do by the hour and several, our itinerary for the weekend and the transition back to a workweek find their way under the ‘About Us’ section.
We seek multifaceted designations for ourselves and yet scream out for individualism. The irony at the base of it all.
Our need to be independent, tolerant and opinionated is an integral part of us, much so that we have begun to clinch gaps for reconciliatory sentiments. Accommodate, adjust, compromise – I have to think the last time I was subjected to any of these. For illustration sakes, I may not go with a visiting relative for a walk because it would upset my writing routine. I would refuse to join a get together over the weekend because, my travel plans if cancelled then, might not resurface soon afterwards. I’m selfish. In fact, our need to be doing things at all times keeps us marching on, yet desisting from an attachment to any of it. As SRK said in a recent conversation over coffee – this generation is ‘demotional’. Detached yet emotional. The outcome of a contrivance we try yielding in our favour is great. If not, we move on even so. And try harder.
Despite that self-attested sticker of being distinct in the crowd, we are in pursuit of other people. We seek an attendance in our community now and then. We look out for friendships that appreciate us, bringing along a sense of belonging.
Motivational quotes catch our eye in a snap and hit the spot in us like a breeze. We share them with a one-word inscription only to forget about them the next day. We emphasise on yoga to the extent that we look at our mobile phones first thing in the morning. What about yoga for the eye? In a snap, we’re health-freaks and in the next, corporate smidgeons. In a snap, we’re the friend in need and the next, a traveller sojourning the wild by ourselves. Our workplace is no different, demanding us to bring to the table a little bit of everything. A niche skillset neither works nor suffices in a corporate setup today. Each of this transpires into tags that appear to be gift-wrapped in a golden paper but barely handed over. Because that box is likely to be empty. Devoid of value.
Some memes are doing the rounds on social media these days, of how our parents’ lifestyles differed when they were in their late twenties as against how our lifestyles are when we are of their age today.
That’s likely because they did a thing or two right by belonging to a community setup. Through the choices we make, we always win some and lose some. Our parents may have forgone their voices in the grander scheme of things, while we could have found ours. While they chose to have us in their late twenties, we’re coping along fine by getting enough of ourselves. Maybe, they were meant to motor for a living, because the ambition for most was to motor for a living. For all we know, their idea of a break was indeed to enjoy a cup of chai with their group of regulars or stall near the vending machine at workplace discussing generic tactics. Back then, humankind’s purpose was by and large to exist and drive evolution. Instead, fraying on the sides with scheme(s) that failed to confide in them that the time, efforts, the sweat, blood and tears will be worth it all.
Eh, what do I know? I’m just a cynical spectator who is clueless about where to draw the line anymore. For one, sketching it on the seashore isn’t helping.