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The Transition

And so begins the journey back to hell, he thought, as he stared into the distance through the window. He tried desperately to cling on to the memories of the last 3 days, to store in the some corner of the brain the sights and sounds he had witnessed. He wished his brain was a computer hard disk, where he could just copy paste it all. That silly, exuberant and childish smile he had on his face for the last three days had been wiped off completely. Now it was just a blank expression, focused on something that he dreaded. He wished he wasn’t going back, he wished time would freeze and never move again. 
His thoughts drifted towards what he had to face after going back. It wasn’t just the fact that he wouldn’t have this much fun ever, but more so the fact that there was no fun in going back. He would just go back to monotonous routine that he had followed for the last few years, a routine in which time had no meaning and life had no purpose. You just got up, ate, did the minimum amount of work necessary, ate again and went back to sleep. His being there or not wouldn’t really change anything in the world he thought.
It wasn’t as if he was being unreasonable, he didn’t want life to be one big party. He knew and understood the importance of doing meaningful and challenging work, of responsibilities that he would eventually have to shoulder. But he wasn’t even doing those things. It was like he and everyone around him was dead. No, he definitely did not want to go back.
But life rarely does what we want it to. And even then, there’s no escape from reality. We can’t just let go of all the social obligations, of all the responsibilities and just have fun. He thought about all the work that was pending when we returned. He tried to prioritize and plan as to how he would go about finishing of it but his heart just wasn’t in it. Every few seconds his thoughts would be interrupted by memories of the last few days. A smile would creep up to his, and then would disappear just as quickly. Then the despair returned and it felt as if it wouldn’t ever end. He had never known such darkness.
*****
He awoke with a start as the train lurched to a stop.  He shook his head to clear his thoughts and to try and forget the disturbing thoughts and dreams that punctuated his nap. He looked around; all his friends were still deep in slumber. He wondered what went on in their heads, whether they ever felt the same things that he did, whether they felt the same insecurities he did. He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t realize the train had started moving again. He realized why he was so afraid, or rather reluctant, to go back. It wasn’t because of all the work, or lack of it, or because there was no fun. Some people had a lot of fun in their daily lives. That one missing ingredient in his life was people, people he could trust and share his feelings with, people who supported and encouraged him, people who shared his interests. He missed his home, his friends, and his family and especially he missed her. He remembered the last conversation he had with his dad. 
He had been feeling really down that day and didn’t know who to turn to. So he picked up his phone and called home. Almost always his mom would pick up the phone but for some absolutely absurd reason his dad picked up the phone that day. He didn’t remember the entire conversation but he remembered how different it had been. For once he had let it all out; a burst of emotional release and his dad had neither scolded nor chided him. He had listened and consoled and advised. His father had done what his best friends had done for years, been there for him. And it was all that mattered. No one could solve his problems, not overnight anyways. But the fact that someone cared enough to listen and support was all he needed at that time. His father had always been a strict man and he had spent his entire childhood in fear of him. It was always to his mom that he confided all the small things that bothered him. He had never thought of his father as someone who would listen to all his personal problems. He wondered when the change had come out. It had to be in the last few years but there was no defining moment. It happened gradually without either of them having the slightest knowledge of it. This was perhaps what they called growing up. But he still wished he had been able to witness the transition of their relationship turning from a master-slave to guide-friend one.   
There still is one thing I can’t tell him, he thought. His thoughts then turned towards her and it felt as if that’s all he really wanted to think about. She entered his thoughts so naturally it felt hard to believe he didn’t even know her a couple of years back. But then what would he say to his father even if he could talk about it. He didn’t even know where they stood, what relation was. He knew she was the single most important person for him in life, but what if she just considered him a friend. Even that thought frightened him. He couldn’t stand the agony of it. He spent hours talking to her, they both poured out their hearts to each other but they never could gather the courage to say what they meant to each other. He felt so lonely at times. Even in a crowd, all he wished was for her to be with him. He felt she liked him back too, but couldn’t be certain until she said so. And what after that, even if they both did like each other what would they do. A nominal distance of 1000 kms separated them and then there was the small matter of their families not approving. It all seemed so difficult yet he forgot all that when they were together, even if it was on the phone. He thought of her smiling face as he dozed off. This time sleep was much more peaceful.
*****
As the station approached, he got up to pack the last of his belongings. With a heavy heart he got up and moved towards the exit. He reflected upon the journey and all the introspection. Somehow, and he didn’t know how, it was all connected. The holiday, the reality, his loneliness, her, everything was somehow connected. He just couldn’t pinpoint how. He tried to steel his mind and prepare himself for the long battle ahead. He tried to put all the depressing thoughts out of his head but somewhere the darkness still lurked. His last thought as he exited the train was that even though the holiday had brought him a few days of respite from reality, it had taken something from within him. He wondered how many such transitions he would last.


 

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