Phone rang relentlessly in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
Half asleep I groped around the bed. I had slept late last night. For last few months working till late has become unavoidable. I picked up the phone.
I hate early morning calls and I got a little annoyed with the question. I tried to recognize the voice, “Can’t hear you properly”.
“Setu here; how are you?”
“Hey ! Setu.” I almost screamed.
Setu was my school friend. He moved to New Jersey 10 years back. We were a little out of touch recently. We studied in same college; shared somewhat dissimilar thoughts, discussed a lot about career and girls. “Your accent has changed a bit. I am fine. How about you?”
“I am coming to India”.
“Manish, you were right. I understand your point now. I had a chat with Sweta also. Let us make another trip to Rajpur.”
Setu always liked to make money when I told money isn’t everything; he always liked high society life that I felt, several times, too artificial; he believed in passion when I believed in flexibility. He was focused, I was confused. He had girlfriends, I had none.
We were at par in studies. We respected each other. Later I joined a company as a Management Trainee. Setu waited for a chance to go abroad. He finally managed to. And since he has earned a lot of money and has lived a high quality life. I too worked on my weaknesses. Got a decent job, got married and settled in Bangalore.
Sweta was Setu’s girlfriend then and now the life partner. Once three of us went to Rajpur and stayed overnight in a camp. The whole night we sat and discussed about the real life we had to see ahead. While I spoke to take life as it comes, Setu talked about dreaming big. Sweta shared similar views those I had and she loved Setu.
“Come here. We will plan. Though I am not sure whether I will be able to go to Rajpur. We can plan anywhere near and around Bangalore”. “Hope everything is fine at your end”.
“Manish, I have run too fast. I feel exhausted. I want to slow down. Want to spend the life you spoke about”.
“What happened Setu?” This was not the Setu I knew.
“Nothing. Just that I want to take it easy now.”
But Setu didn’t know that his views had actually changed me. I too had started dreaming big. Since last 10 years, I tried to become Setu. I turned into a perfectionist from an easy going guy. And I achieved what I wanted to. To catch Setu I also ran fast. But perhaps because I never completely believed in his ideology, I could never catch him. And finally I stand today, dreamless and realizing Setu too has stopped chasing those big dreams.
“You know Setu, I somehow followed what you believed in. And in this I lost my ordinariness.”
“Don’t tell me Manish. You told you will never change”.
“I did Setu. But today there is more Setu in me than Manish. You taught me to dislike mediocrity; I came over it. Now flamboyance sucks me.”
Of late I see more life in ordinariness. It’s like knowing all roads of the jungle. And all roads of the jungle are known to only those who have got lost in it. Success alienates a person to all those small things in life that life is made of.
“Manish, I am coming back. We will trek again together to Rajpur. We will talk. I want to re-live those moments.”
“Throughout my life I chased my dreams. One dream after the other. And in this I lost touch with my friends, created distance with parents, got money but life slipped out. Objectivity replaced amusement. I am boring at best, anxious at worst.”
“You have been my alter ego Setu; and finally we have a common problem” I smiled.
“How is Kuhoo?”
I turned around to look for Kuhoo. But she was not on bed.
“Wake up”, I saw Kuhoo standing near me with tea. “We are planning to go to Mekadatu today’.
She continued, “I took your phone in morning. Setu had called. I told you’re sleeping. He and Sweta are coming to India for a week”.
“I didn’t miss that call”, I smiled back. She looked at me in disbelief as I enjoyed the cardamom tea.