Destinations are fine where they are. So are the journeys.
“Manzilen apni jagah hain, raaste apni jagah.”
I’ve listened to the old Amitabh number a thousand times; revelled in the Kishore baritone through several winding lanes of sepia-tinted memory, and never have I so deliciously felt its significance as now.Seated on one of the two decker trains in Germany, the world’s faded into a giant television screen of trees and mountains and cosily nestled bungalows and I’m dwelling in a kind of frozen semi-bliss somewhere between wakefulness and sleep. Shraddha’s reaching out to get a packet of nuts from Sayee ma’am beside me, who’s passionately scribbling something in her little diary. We’re all happily exhausted. The two minutes of football on the altitudes of Triberg have taken their toll on our grossly unfit bodies. I sweated at 4 degrees.
It’ll be unfair to say that I’m totally satisfied with today’s sightseeing, cuz it was a little disappointing to say the least. Going through all the shit that we did, when I look back, wasn’t half worth clicking a couple of candid selfies against a mass of cascading water. The railings were too cold and the benches too small, and the constant spray bit though my two-inch jacket with the subtlety of a hungry South Indian. We smiled through our gangraped lips and talked to an old creep who happened to have seen Indira Gandhi get assassinated. ‘You’re cute,’ he told one of my friends and put his arm around her and didn’t let go. We were still running when the train arrived.
Cut to contemplating me, sitting on the deep blue chair and cribbing about the TC and backache and getting down, thinking up philosophical shit over occasional swigs of tap water. The train’s slowing with the practised brakes of the driver, and a couple of Indian strangers are here with us in the compartment. Indians. We’re fucking everywhere. Can’t a guy go away and not see the faces of his hand-twisting brethren for a few weeks? Nein, we’re followed. A guy behind me goes “Nutting is happening,” and I instantly know he’s from the south. I’m feeling like kicking his ass all the way to the top of the Kanyakumari. Love works in strange ways.
I’ve thought about a fair few things since I got into that hotel taxi ten hours ago, but my head, in its frequent moments of laziness, has sifted through the questions and chucked most of them where they won’t bother me until midnight. One of those that still lingers is “Was it worth the shit?”
Now I’m in no mood for debate. My face looks like a molested raisin, and the station’s just round the corner. But I have to say this. You don’t always go through something in life to reach a higher something at the end. You don’t always have a gauntlet waiting to be crossed and a glinting treasure chest at the right end waiting to be unearthed. It’s not always the destination that provides closure. Sometimes, it’s the journey itself.
Go back to when you were four. Did you snuggle into your favorite blanket just because you’d get run over by the Bat Mobile if you didn’t? Did you ask questions about stuff that made your parents gulp just cuz you were aiming for some kind of material compensation? Did you hop into the puddle before climbing onto the school bus cuz you’d get a toffee from the dreaded stranger if you refused? You didn’t. Getting into bed felt nice. Asking questions was fun. Puddles were beautiful. It wasn’t the end that propelled you; it was the act itself. The thought of going through that shit was so overpowering that you didn’t need a final incentive to get that shit done. Pain and punishment faded out in front of the sheer joy of the experience; a few beatings from mom could be tolerated.
When life hands you lemons, chuck them out of the window cuz anything that’s handed to you is probably poisoned. And don’t always cling to the prospect of a conclusion to guide you through your shitty roads. The turns can be hard; you could be royally tempted to base all your faith on the destination. But destinations are rarely as satisfying as you thought they’d be. And they’re not even real half of the time.
An ending is only important, or even existent, when it’s just that- an ending. When there’s nothing beyond it that’s even remotely within the square of your control or imagination. For now, the only ending that really matters is the one where you sleep on a burning log and say fuck you to your sons who’re waiting for a will you didn’t write. Till then, you can either fantasise about unrealistic finalities and set yourself up for disappointment, or you can get your shit together and enjoy the road while it lasts.
And I lied. Go finish your lemonade. Survive your summer. Live your stuff. You never know.
In this shithole you call life, it’s often the endings that fuck you up. And when that happens, you only have the journey to hold on to. Make it stick.