Girish somehow managed to complete not just B.Com but also M.Com through correspondence courses. Life vacillated between his hometown and distant places. High life exposure made him savvy but familial obligations kept drawing him back.
Drifting through life is not a euphemism from where these stories come.
There was a requirement for a watchman/supervisor kind of work for a few days—to watch over labour. A dependable one because there were assets on the site. Though very pleasant, the person who came was a surprising revelation.
Rajesh was wearing a smart pair of sunglasses that he equally smartly flips over his hair as he parks his mobike outside my house. As he walks in, it is clear he is kind of elegant, has good manners. I am puzzled because I just cannot connect my “requirement” with the young man who walked in.
We get chatting. Rajesh first tries to establish a link by mentioning his father. I have known him. He was well-placed in a bank job. I ask what he himself does. “Oh, I work with Prakashda…looking after his construction work or restaurant work as required.” Clearly, a random neither here nor there “occupation” that brings him a “salary”, however modest. At this point, Rajesh seems more than satisfied with it.
I am curious and enquire about his education. “I did B.Com…” After a pause, “Well, I did not complete it but I did go.” I get more curious. As I prod further, he simply says, “I went to college because all my friends were also going. They were all going for Commerce, so I also took the same.”
In answer to why he did not complete the bachelors, it was again, simply, “Oh, going to Uni was a ‘shaukh’ (loosely translated as a desire)…it got fulfilled. Then I got bored. So, I stopped going.” There seems to be absolutely no regret as he states this. I just can’t help but probe further.
Rajesh’s father was disappointed and kept wishing his son would complete his studies. It had no impact. Obviously. I asked, “There must be some dream, some wish, about what you want to be…Something you want to achieve…”
“Not really,” Rajesh replied. “Really?”, I said. “To accomplish dreams, you have to work very hard,” he blandly said. “What do you mean?”, I said. “Well, I am happy where I am. I am not thinking about anything in the future”, says Rajesh. “No point…”
I was stumped.
B.Com is the common strain ahead.
Pan Singh is the son of a highly respected gentleman, an ex-government servant. He did complete his B.Com. Aspirations took him to foreign shores. Family obligations forced him to return, marry and “settle” down. It seems there must have been some give and take, some “deals” in this forced change of circumstance.
Pan Singh now runs an eatery, where he cooks and serves non-vegetarian fare. His family has a top-notch ultra-orthodox Brahmanical lineage. No one is saying anything.
Looking at him, you cannot see anything that belongs to Pan Singh’s story. Not the education, nor the stint “abroad”, or the lineage. He wanders around, with a glazed, lost look, in less than smart clothes. Often quite unkempt. You wouldn’t notice him in a crowd. In fact, the opposite. At the risk of sounding bourgeoisie, he would seem like just some commoner.
Yet, he does know what is a spaghetti bolognaise. Few, if any around him here, would.
Girish. A smart, talkative young man in his early 40s. Early education in an English medium school has gifted him with an almost perfect accent. That early education took turns. A shift to another school, less hifi. The desire to get to Delhi halted, when he routinely entered B.Com in the nearby university. Just like many others.
That entry was short-lived. A family relative-like friend dangled the carrot of an opportunity in a distant big city. The bright lights and glamour were too much to resist. B.Com was stemmed as a new life took shape in diverse fields. (Difficult to mention because it would disclose the identity rather easily.)
Girish somehow managed to complete not just B.Com but also M.Com through correspondence courses. Life vacillated between his hometown and distant places. High life exposure made him savvy but familial obligations kept drawing him back. It is at the root of his inner distress.
Girish is always burdened with headaches and pains. He can be very dull on certain days, though his natural demeanour is bright and cheerful. His constant litany is the drudgery of his life and routine, though he partakes of a more than good family business income.
Girish is here but not here, is the only way to describe him. He has grandiose dreams but laments, “If I could do what I want, god knows what all I could accomplish…but I am stuck here, managing this and that…all this boring stuff.”
For now, Girish has his fingers in several pies. The bottom line for him is always to be connected to someone or something that he can talk about. A feather in his cap. Every name he mentions must be accompanied with flattering praises, even if misplaced or undeserving. The momentary aura of a personality or a “big” car is enough fuel for praise. It is also his simple heart that cannot—or does not—want to see the uglier side. With reason. The associations must suffice in place of his dreams…and more than make up for them…for now…for ever?
Neelima Mathur is an India-based Executive Producer, Researcher, Writer, Mentor and Trainer for documentary and NGO films. She is also Festival Director of the Lakeside Doc Festival.