AN EPIPHANOUS HAPPINESS

I am not an avid watcher of Hindi movies – I do not subscribe to the escapist themes that are the staple of these movies, because they have somehow never appealed to me. Most of these themes are absolutely impractical and improbably annoying. My Hindi movie watching is limited to being inveigled by my wife or daughter into accompanying them to the theatres.

So it was with great trepidation that I went along to watch the latest Ranbir Kapoor – Deepika Padukone starrer Tamaasha. The director, Imtiyaz Ali has a standard formula in all his movies – boy meets girl and they fall in love; they have a misunderstanding / fight and separate; they meet once again after a few years (usually at the girl’s wedding ceremony), rekindle their love and get together again (the girl conveniently dumps her unbelievably “supportive” fiancée). Almost all his movies have been made with slight variations to this inherent theme, so I am not to blame if I was apprehensive about this one too. But I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised! Though the movie is extremely lengthy, Corsica looks stunning – makes you want to book the next flight out to that lovely island; and the two lead actors set the screen ablaze with their acting chops. Ranbir once again reaffirms his illustrious acting lineage, and Deepika seems to be getting better with each outing. But more than anything, the winner that stands above the mediocre movie-making aspects, is the story. Not many will understand the story of a hero with bipolar disorder, who initially seems hell-bent on destroying himself but later embarks on a journey towards self-realization. On the surface, the movie touches on one of the points described beautifully in the movie 3 Idiots – that of choosing the profession you love rather than the one you need, but the story moves beyond that point when the protagonist sets course to correct himself. While watching it I realized that all of us, sometime in our lives, must have gone through a similar phase (I most certainly have).

As a child I knew that I possess certain qualities which, in the eyes of my parents would never have guaranteed me a job in any “noble profession” (read Engineering / Medical). So I got strait-jacketed into becoming an engineer – something which I have done well, but not excelled in. I have always felt that had I followed my heart and done something I love I may have done better for myself. Like the protagonist of the movie there were innumerable occasions during my engineering college days when I was frustrated to the level of nervous breakdowns – many a times I had come close to giving it all up. All those who have studied engineering will voluntarily concede that some of the topics covered in Indian engineering courses can drive anyone up the wall. Add to it the fact that there were hardly any socializing activities in my campus (not even annual days), my college experience was exasperating to say the least. And the less said about the professors the better! In some way my struggle with studies were similar to India’s freedom struggle – both achieved its goal but after arduous efforts and luck. I then went and made myself more miserable by taking up a job in keeping with my educational qualifications. I joined a million others like me competing in the asinine rat-race, sprinting towards a mirage that promised me a “good life”. I became an obliging participant in a contest that I would never win, and every step I took forward sucked me deeper into a morass of misery. My parents were thrilled that I was doing “well” for myself, and despite the mental agony I was undergoing, I numbed myself into accepting this despondent state as the best time of my life.

Then about fifteen years ago, I a woman came into my life, who proved to be cathartic to my existence. She paid little heed to my professional achievements making them seem inconsequential, and held a mirror to make me realize how wretched I had now become. I was then going through a very painful phase of my life, and she was the proverbial rock beside me – the strong shoulder I could cry on. She persistently rekindled all the talent that had remained dormant in me during the many years of my woeful life, and dragged the real me out from the hole that it had descended into. Some of the methods she used infuriated me no end, but she endured and eventually I realized what a fool I have been. I decided that she was the one who could not just be my better half, but my best half instead! Over a period of time, she has taught me the importance of being happy over being rich; she got me enrolled into a music academy so that I could pursue my love for singing; she pleaded, cajoled and finally threatened me to take up my other passion of writing, which I did; in short she did everything humanly possible to make sure that I deconstruct my mental penitentiary and reconstruct my own world. The end result – I have now stopped hankering after money and instead yearn to spend more time doing what I love to do and today I am content with what life has to offer. I do not aspire to live in a fancy house, drive a fancy car or have an obscene monetary balance in the bank – today I only aspire to be happy. I do not claim to have corrected all the wrongs that are in me – there are still a few of them that I would like to bury forever, but I am taking the resolute journey on the road to improvement. Every day now is a learning experience for me, and I am lucky to have such a great teacher in my wife (ably accompanied by my daughter).

We celebrated our twelfth anniversary two days back, and I would like to use this opportunity to thank her for the efforts that she has put in to make me happy again – I am because you are, my love. We still bicker almost every day, have countless arguments and disagree on many points (the essential elements of any healthy marriage). But I have now discovered that the secret to “a good life” equals “a good wife”!

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