Can’t drive, don’t have a job and hanging on to the last shred of sanity. That pretty much describes my situation today. And I have been there before — in some other place, at some other time. And it is a scary place to be. What is even scarier is the belief that you are helpless and cannot get out of it. The last time I was there, I truly believed this was it! This is how my life would be till my death. In retrospect, what a stupid thought.
This time around, I know I can get out of this temporary rut. I just don’t know the rules. New place, new rules. Till I master the rules I can’t win the game of life. Opportunity knocks, I answer and then the door is slammed in my face. Sometimes no one is at the door and it opens to a blank wall. If you put in the right effort, shouldn’t the right results come eventually? It seems like things have an uncanny way of working in this part of the world or the rules have changed since the last time I was here.
So I slowly drift day in and day out, my energy ebbing, my soul aching for something I cannot articulate and prayer remains my only reprieve. Some days, even prayer cannot save me from succumbing to what I call my ‘dark moods’.
Self-esteem issues are intricately wrapped around the work you do and the remuneration you get. The last time I was in this scary place, it took me nearly a decade to pick myself up and go after my dreams. A lurking fear that I have not yet given voice to is, what if it again takes me that long to get out of this situation? I shudder at that possibility.
It reminds me of the frog in the well that climbs two feet only to slip back one foot. Only an act of divine grace can send a rope down for the frog to hold on to and be pulled up to safety. For the frog has tried so hard and yet finds itself at the bottom of that impossible well.
My patience has all but worn out in two months, when before an entire decade had passed without so much as a whimper. In times like these, I wish I had the faith of a mustard seed or a drumstick tree.
A drumstick tree you ask? Let me elucidate. As I washed and prepared a dish of fresh drumstick leaves from our garden, I marvelled at the drumstick tree. When we got here three months ago, the tree had grown beyond the terrace, with its branches lazily hanging over it. A ladder was all we needed to pick fresh drumstick leaves and tender, sweet drumsticks for sambar.
One rainy night, strong winds lashed the tree. A strong gust was enough to break it in half. The next morning the tree, with its drumsticks and leaves, lay on the ground. Only a small part of the trunk and the roots had withstood the storm. We consoled ourselves saying that its roots were strong. Sure enough, in a couple of days we saw sprouts emerging from the knobby trunk. Fresh, bright green, tender sprouts growing with a vengeance. In a matter of weeks, we had enough leaves for our weekly meal.
I drew strength from the tree which had lost everything it had worked for in one night. Every single leaf was gone, every single fruit had fallen to the ground. And yet the tree did not whine, complain or get depressed. It didn’t give up and die. It jumped back to life with renewed vigour. I may be imagining this but it now seems to be growing faster than ever.
After making the dish, I went into the garden and stood in front of the tree to soak up some of its courage, grit and determination. My burdens felt lighter and I walked back to the house with a smile playing on my lips.