“Huh? Wh…. What?”
“You need to buckle up ma’am. We’re experiencing some minor turbulence. Please be seated and stay calm. There’s absolutely nothing to be worried about.”
One of the flight attendants in the fancy uniform said standing right next to me as the pilot announced the same on the radio at a distance. I buckled up my seat belt, still feeling dizzy after being unusually woken up from my nap.
“Hold on a second! Where did this lady come from? Am I still on the plane? I’m still on the plane. Thank god! It was only a dream…” I sighed with relief.
It was only a couple of seconds later that I fully regained my senses. So, after a bit of introspection and observing the obvious, I pretty much realized that I was still in the plane and was somehow having a nightmare.
“These nightmares may seem so real sometime. Appa would never do such a thing to me. He loves me so much. And even if it comes to worst and he does what I saw, I’d rather leave my dreams than my parents.” I uttered these words gently trying to calm down as I prepared myself to finally confront them.
About one and a half hours post waking up abruptly from the nightmare, checking out of the airport and taking a cab, I was standing right in front of the gates of my parents’ house. I couldn’t even begin to count how many times I’ve stood there and yet something felt different this time. I believe I was still in bit of a shock after the nightmare. Nonetheless, I gathered all the strength and knocked. Only a single knock and my father opened the door with a huge smile engraved on his face – “There you are, my child. We’ve been eagerly waiting for you since the morning. I am dying to hear all the stories from your new world, and I can’t wait a minute longer.”
“Get in beta. You must be tired from your journey. Get yourself a quick shower and relax. I’ve kept your clothes on the bed. Oh! And don’t take too long. I’ve cooked your favorite Pongal, which is already getting cold. Your Appa’s been sneaking around the kitchen ever since the morning to grab a bite of it, but I won’t let him have it. I’m not sure if he could control his temptation for a single more minute.” Amma intervened.
”Wait a minute! What’s going on? Aren’t these the exact words they uttered in the nightmare and in the exact sequence? What is this place? Am I stuck in some sort of loop? Oh my God! Does that mean…” I was but in total panic.
“You seem lost beta. Is everything okay?” – Appa enquired.
“I’m fine Appa. Just excited to see you both after such a long time” came my reply. I couldn’t have disagreed any more with myself. I straight forward lied to Appa about my wellness when in reality I was choking inside. My heart was pounding so hard I could feel the thumps in my veins. My mind was literally screaming out loud – “You know what’s going to happen next! Don’t fall for it this time.”
When I decided to pursue my dreams this time, all I sought out was a simple hint from the universe establishing whether my decision was right. However, what the universe gave me in return was sheer confusion and loads of frustration. I mean, first, I came across the excerpt from one of Rizwan Ahmed’s interviews and get overwhelmed with confidence, then I was haunted by a strange nightmare and cowered in fright, and finally when I somehow managed to convince myself to calm down, Amma and Appa began to act in the exact same way as the nightmare. What was I supposed to make out of all these complex situations? Was the universe giving me signs to follow my dream or was it totally against it? How was I supposed to know what was what. After all, every single one of these situations was paradoxically different from the others and there was absolutely no ‘research journal on omen decryption’ for me to refer to. So, I decided to find an alternative to my nightmare. One where I got to live my dream and my parents didn’t end all mad and disappointed in me. So, I decided to go to my room after lunch and surround myself with solace in order to try and find some ideas worth implementing.
I was laying down on my bed thinking about all the possible courses of action when somehow I drifted back to taking another nap. Nonetheless, by the time I woke up, I’d already realised what was needed to be done. I’d decided to pursue my dream just as I did in the nightmare. However, unlike the nightmare, this time, I wasn’t going to seek out my parents’ permission or try to convince them about my decision being right. So, I took out my laptop, drafted an email stating my reason for seeking resignation from my day job and booked a flight from Chennai to Kolkata.
Now, that everything was in place, there was not much left for me to do other than simply letting them in on my decision and asking for their blessings. So, I packed up my backpack, cleaned my old guitar case and decided to leave the house during the night without telling my parents. There was, however, one last thing to be done. I took up a piece of paper and scribbled on it:-
“Appa, Amma, I do not have a single clue how to share this with you. There is so much to tell and I don’t seem to be coming up with much words at this moment. I really don’t know if I’ll be able to put this the right way.
Anyway, do you remember Amma, how you used to teach me the ragas on your Tanpura when I was young? Perhaps, I got my first lesson in music from you at the age of five. I used to be so excited to simply be able to touch the strings back then. And then, as I grew a bit older, Appa, you bought me a new guitar. It used to be so amazing going to my weekly guitar classes with you. You’d buy me ice cream and banana chips. I can’t tell you how much I miss those days. Music was my soul that kept floating across the universe and you two were the strings that kept me attached to reality. Appa, you were always so thrilled to listen to the new leads I played on my guitar and Amma, you’d always push me for a bit of extra riyaz. But, during the last few years of my school, everything began to change. Now, none of you would ask me to practice my lessons or play them for you. Instead, you wanted me to get good grades and focus more on my studies. I did what you wanted. I thought getting good grades would make everything go back to normal and we all could again be connected through music. But, that never happened. In fact, with each semester passing by, all you wanted was for me to pursue a good career. I even tried to talk about pursuing a career in music once. But you would not listen Appa. So, even I thought of giving away music and settling down for this new job I’d acquired. And I tried hard to fit into the new world. I really did. Alas! I couldn’t. So, I had to give it up.
I wanted to share this with you in person but I never really had the courage to look into your eyes and face the disappointment. So, I’m leaving this note.
It’s almost 12 in the night and I’m leaving for the airport. I’ll be going to Kolkata. However, I won’t be staying there for much long. I really don’t know where I’ll heading to next. All I know is that I’ll be pursuing the one thing I always wanted to. MUSIC! Please do not try to contact me. You won’t be able to reach my number anyway and neither of my friends or colleagues will be able to help you either. I promise I’ll make you two proud one day. And when that day comes, I’ll knock on the gates of this house and hope that you’ll welcome me with the same love and warmth as you always have. I do not expect for you to forgive me but I will definitely hope for it.
I left the note on the dining table and left in tears. As I was about to get into the cab, I turned to see the gates for one last time as I really did not know if I would even see them again in my life…