I need to run some errands. I get on my bike because it’s a quick ride and also because I don’t have a car. I can’t afford one. A voice in my head says that I should be ashamed of myself for that. I ask the voice to fuck off. This voice simply refuses to leave—sitting there all day, rent-free, dreary; telling me in minute detail, every single thing that is wrong with me. It has made a solid home in my head.
Naval says that voice is guilt and that “Guilt is society’s voice speaking in your head”. I believe him. I feel slight shame in how I turn to a Naval quote at every corner. I want to be the guy who looks up to no one, is brazen and arrogant like a twenty three year old piece of shit—exactly how I was a decade ago. ‘At least, I don’t rely on Jordan Peterson’, I pacify myself.
Shame is omnipresent in my life; a dull ache that quietly numbs a corner of my soul.
My bike that I am using to run my errands is snazzy—a Royal Enfield. My sister loaned me the money to buy it, almost seven years ago. I haven’t returned her the money yet. She hasn’t brought it up. She doesn’t care, she makes it all in a few weeks. She is generous. But she worries that my life is headed down a financially unstable path. She never mentions this to me outright. But I sense her worry. I, too, worry about her and her need to be overly compliant with everyone. We are poles apart. We worry for the other about things we presume we have under control for ourselves.
For a while now, we have suspended communication on any topic that might be 'too deep'. We just pass on messages, pleasantries and biscuits to one another. I can see that this situation will persist for a few years. My only hope is that ours doesn't turn into the relationship my parents and their respective siblings have: once effusive in their expression of love for one another, now have a tough time making eye contact even.
Siblings make and break families.
Everyone enters and exits your life at various points; a sibling stays with you the longest. So they know you and your games far too well, unlike the rest of the world which you have managed to fool for a little while. They fling your shit right back at you. You strive to change/maintain the (power) equation set in your childhood and bicker in the process. Good parents look on helplessly. Bad parents manipulate. The worst parents try to problem-solve. (Don’t take my word, I’m not a parent. Besides, I have a feeling that every parent does all three.)
The relationship amongst siblings is most unpredictable. You don’t know which way they turn. But they always turn together, in an unsaid underlying agreement. My sister and I love each other. I cannot imagine that flame turning off ever. There has to be a play by Shakespeare about siblings.
I am generous too—with my time. I took to dad. My dad is exceptionally generous with his time and my mother is with material things. My sister and I have turned out exactly like my parents. Sigh.
It is just me with my beautiful ride under a canopy of coconut trees. There isn’t a soul. This part of the world is stuck in my childhood years. I love it. Also, the possibility of a lockdown looms large.
I love riding my bike here. It reminds me of the old times. I am not a biker. I loathe that term. I don’t know what the fuck it means to be a ‘biker’. Go on any Indian road and you find all the idiots on a bike. Are they all ‘bikers’? No 'biker' rides a Hero Honda CD100 or a Splendor. That term is employed only when you splurge oodles of money. What wonders you can achieve with marketing—‘Own a Royal Enfield and be a biker’ as opposed to investing the same money in Eicher Motors.
If my bike ever breaks down beyond repair, I will leave it right in the middle of the road and walk away from it, for good. I bought it on a whim, because I was dealing with a break-up. I wanted to feel manly in the face of rejection, so I listened to the marketers. I have no sentimental attachment whatsoever.
I love riding this bike. I always dreamed of owning a Royal Enfield.
I am taking a detour. It’s magic hour. This Tamil song is lovely. I want the ride to be longer.
I worry a lot that I am not a good son and that I haven’t been a good son. I get so tired of this thought that I go out of my way to do things for my parents and end up terrorising them. Probably, to shut this voice in my head that won’t shut up; that won’t stop telling me how I am being inadequate. My girlfriend tells me that I am a great son. I love her. Although, she doesn’t approve of how I speak to my mother when my mother and I fight. I don’t approve of it either. No one does. I hate how I speak to my mother when she and I get combative. My girlfriend says that she worries such behaviour will spill on to our relationship, when the going gets tough. I don’t like to believe that but it is a fact that stares in my face. And unlike my mother, my girlfriend has the choice of leaving me. So I must be more patient with my mother, who gave me a life.
I don’t know if it’s the bassline or the ferocious songwriting or a relief that dad is ok, but I can’t stop crying on this ride. It feels like a movie scene:
Guy is cruising on a bike. 50ish kms/h. Contemplative. Looking into the distance. Stoic at first and then tears roll down his cheeks, for no apparent reason. (strings fade in)
Funny almost. After crying to my hearts content, I reach a junction where four roads meet. I have come far enough. It’s time to head back. I buy the groceries and reach home.
The following day my dad, my sister and I drive to the doctor for a follow-up. It is a quick visit. Dad is doing well. We are all happy. On our way back dad asks me to slow down at a spot and tells my sister and I, “This is where I sat down with the pain in my chest. Right here. And I got myself water from here.” while pointing to a tea stall.
I look around—it is the exact same junction I had turned around from the previous day. I continue to drive quietly.
Some cliches you come up with and some cliches life throws at you. The latter are particularly bad.