It is a clear sunny day in the city of Rajkot with the forecast of temperatures ranging from 40 – 42 degrees Celsius with absolutely no clouds on the horizon. I've just come back from my driving lesson, and writing this post with the cup o’ tea Mom made in the morning but which I couldn't drink, because well, I’m a late person.
Now, it so happens that it’s my birthday and I've been fielding calls ever since the clock struck twelve last night. Friends started calling up then and kept at it till 3 in the morning and when I finally crawled into bed and seemed to get a few moments of blessed sleep, I was awakened by the sound my phone going off again. Not only my phone but three phones - all over the house, just for me. And it was 7 in the morning!
Who calls up a 21 year old guy at 7 am in the morning? In the vacations!
I’ll tell you – his aunts.
Yeah, so I jump out of bed with the enthusiasm of a koala bear, literally. I talk to my aunt and the first thing she says to me is, “So, now you have the Golden Key of Freedom! You’re 21!” and I went, “Huh?” partly because my sleep- addled brain couldn't make sense of what she was saying and partly because I didn't know what on earth she was talking about. So I asked her, and she said now that I was 21, I was a MAN! I could do anything I wanted, and nobody would stop me. I could be the king of my own life and Dad wouldn't be able to tell me what to do anymore. They said I could even go and marry anyone I chose, yes, you read that correctly, marry. And I again went, “Yes, yes aunty.” And kept smiling stupidly at the phone.
|Image courtesy: Google Images.|
It was only after I hung up and went to the washroom to clean up that I realized that what she said was true and a little frightening. I stared at myself in the mirror for a long time, looking into my own eyes. It was as if I’d gone into the past, the mirror - a window into my soul, my memories. I saw in black and white, the care of my father, the love of my mother the camaraderie of my sister and the support of my loved ones, the things that had brought me up to be the man I am today. I saw all this as if on film, the flashback in seeming slow motion but running in fast forward at the same time and I realized that things were never going to be the same again. I had left my adolescence behind and now I was old enough to shoulder my own responsibilities and be a man of the House of Dabhi. It was a strange feeling, a bit too much? Yes. But also a bit of pride in now being included among the elders of my house.
I finally watched the reel run out into a haze as I was brought back into the present by Flo Rida singing, “Can you blow my whistle baby…” I picked up the phone and said,
“Hello aunty, good morning…”