No Time to Regret: Life fast-forwarded in a moment – Vikas Puri
I like less the story that a frog, if put in cold water, will not bestir itself if that water is heated up slowly and gradually and will, in the end, let itself be killed, boiled alive, too comfortable with continuity to realize that continuous change at some point may become intolerable and demand a change in behaviour.
I remember my mother’s frowny face as she stands tall over my two feet tiny frame with a stick in her hand. She asks me to finish my homework. I smile back deceptively and prefer to watch TV. It is the same story every day, and I do not care.
Another time, I get low grades, and my parents are cross. My mother seems arrogant; and pleads, far-off and distant. I close my mind as they scold me and wait for the ordeal to end. I mock seriousness and pretend to be sorry, a promise to improve, but friends are always more fun. The TV shows are good, and I am a dream within.
I am in middle school. There is this girl who I like. She is on my mind, and I wish I could talk to her. She works hard and does well in class. I know that I am not her type and don’t dare to get in touch. Her dreams stay with me, and I never listen to my mother’s vague ideas.
We are on holiday in the hills. My father drives as we climb the heights. This is the first time they do not despise. Maybe it is the snow, the poplars, or the fruit-laden trees. I like the calm, and my heart aches for the holiday to continue; no strings attached, to play on and on.
It is my high school result, and I barely manage to pass. Other students move on to higher studies, but I do not make it. I happily don’t care and plan to carry on with my group. They are as alive, and we party and often go high. Life looks excellent and playful, and I am sorry that my mother does not care.
I meet this other girl. She is tall and attractive and a free bird like me. It seems we care a lot and enjoy each other’s company. One day my parents are outstation, and she agrees to stay over. We look forward to a great time, and we switch on the TV to watch The Hunger Games, but get busy with each other. I never get to complete the movie and wonder what hunger is about. With her around, life smells like the fragrance of jasmine, soft and intoxicating, just like her hair. I look away from my mother’s picture and put it far away. I choose her over my mother’s desire.
Another day and we meet again. I hold her, and she holds back harder. She feels like my destiny, and I yearn to be with her. She tells me of her daydreams as a free bird who soars high over the clouds. I know what she means and tell her that I like her company and want to fly along. She lights up and smiles back. I promise myself that I will never tell my mother this secret that now lights up my life.
Others graduate and take on jobs. I know this is what my mother wants for me, but It is not my way. I prefer to be free and be with the girl; imagine her silky hair as it flows in the winds. I join her biker’s group as I want to be with her. Every Sunday, we race and ride the waves of gravity, me and her and the other boys all carefree and together.
It is a foggy day, and I am eager to meet, impress, and get her by my side over the other boys in the group. I see her and feel that this is the day when we fly; she, along with me, is my elegant, gorgeous and alluring, yet adventurous and athletic mate. The world zips past as we rush through on the expressway. The fresh cool morning air feels like a whiz past my ears. I love the adrenaline rush, alive and on top of my world. As I increase the throttle, my powerful Kawasaki Ninja responds like a soulmate, just like her. I raise my speed to overtake her. She gestures with a thumbs-up, and I am thrilled. I increase further, and I know she is behind. The other boys get faster, and she along with them. We seem to ride on high waves of pleasure, and it all looks so good. He gets past me, and I sense competition; I know he looks at her with dreamy eyes. I increase my speed and whizz past to lead. He also speeds, and the race intensifies. I know she is there behind, and I must win. I go daredevil and feel the pain; I fly as the world goes blank, with only my mother’s face frozen in time.
I am at the hospital, and my body is a lump. I float and what was me lies on the bed, lifeless, with a smile that looks cold-like regret. My mother sits in the corner, sad in grief as if her world has blown. I try to console her, but I am thin air. I feel blank and sorry for myself, who lies still on the bed. None of my friends is there, and I assume they are busy and their party goes on. I know somehow that my life is now out of reach. Time seems infinite and constant but not enough for me to regret. I remember my mother’s face and what she desired for me for the first time. But it is all over, and I wish I could rewind.
The girl who was in my life looks happy and is at peace. I see her from far above with another boy as they hold hands with a promise to dream. I finally understand the look on her face, and she looks indifferent. My mother continues to sob, and she looks as pale as death.