Karthik Keramalu

Journey Of Life

I was done with my final year exams and I had also agreed to assist my Dad in his business which I was least interested in. He gave me a week’s time, I had no idea what I could do in one week. I had 12,000 with me and a bag which had nothing but clothes. I went to the bus station at 4 p.m., booked a ticket to Kanyakumari. The bus was at 6, I was in the bus station thinking about my future. Then something inside me told “You have no future, you have leased it, the correct word to be used is, you have sold it to your dad, you have no future in your dad’s business”. It was 6 already and I took a bus from Bangalore to Kanyakumari. I called my Mom at 6:20 and told her about it. I said 3 days and added "I will be back before you know it" and disconnected the call. I still had 4 days left before I could sell myself to Dad. I reached Kanyakumari at 9 in the morning, booked a room, took a shower and had my breakfast in the near by Fast Food Center. Even though it was named ‘Fast Food Center’, he took a good 10 minutes to get me my food. I roamed the streets of Kanyakumari wearing a skull cap on a Sunday. It was noon, I had no idea where I was, the place looked so alien to me but the people there were friendly enough to guide me to my hotel.

It was 4 in the evening, I decided to take the ‘roam the streets’ task again. I asked a man who wore a dhoti and a white shirt with three horizontal stripes of ash on his forehead about the beaches of Kanyakumari. He had the answers. I thanked him and walked down the street. I saw a motorist and asked him if he could take me to the beach, the man in the black trousers obliged. He wanted to know my name and other details which I didn’t wish to reveal. He knew I was uncomfortable and stopped asking irrelevant questions, it was irrelevant to me.

“So, Shekar where are you from” he said
“Bangalore” I said
“Oh Bangalore, that is where my son wants to study” he said with pride.
I asked him if he wanted his son to assist him in his business to which he said “Shekar, I want my son to be happy. If he turns out to be an engineer or an actor that would be great. But he says his heart is in learning guitar, so, I let him be. He’s happy. If he’s happy, I am happy. What do you say? Our son’s happiness is more important than what we have in our mind for him right”
I nodded, he was riding and couldn’t notice my expression, he repeated the sentence.
“What you are saying is 100% true”. I said.
“Do you mind if I join you. I don’t have anything to do today”
He could talk about anything but my life I said to myself.
“Shekar what do you do? What are you interested in? Where do you see yourself ten years down the line”
These are the questions to which there are no answers from my side.
“I have no answer” I said sheepishly.

We reached the beach, he asked me to wait and he parked his bike in the parking lot. He came towards me and we walked along the shore. He turned to me
“Shekar, what do you think life is” he said
I couldn’t think about my future, where do I have the time to think about life I thought.
“If you don’t mind can you tell me about yourself” he said with a Vivekananda look on his face.
“See, I came to Kanyakumari to enjoy... have fun... but my Dad’s words... they are haunting me like a ghost. He wants me to assist him in his business and I am not willing to work with him. I had plans of starting a business with my friend Anil. I have let him down. I am letting my family down. I don’t want to be a branch of my Dad’s tree. I want to be a tree. Kanyakumari is a place to relax and rejuvenate but the moment I landed here I knew I was going to sulk. Your son has a gifted Dad” I said and broke into tears.
He soothed me with kind words.
“Life is not about heart beat or the pulse rate... It is about what you are going to do when you are alive. You will lose your smile forever if you work with your Dad. If you want to be a tree, you should make an attempt. Not 1, not 2, it can go up to 100, but you should never lose hope”
The man in the black trousers spoke sense but all I could hear was the sound of the waves and the voice of my father.
“Have you told your Dad about your wish to start a business with Anil” he said
“No. I cannot talk to him. He takes all the decisions. He has the final word, whatever he says is final and there is no room for discussion” I said wiping tears off my cheeks with the back of my hand.
“Final word in his life is okay but you have to take a tablet if you have fever, he cannot pop the tablet and say everything’s going to be fine before sunshine. When you don’t have the courage to stand and talk to him where do you think you have the courage in you to be a tree. It’s only plain words you have. If you want to be a tree, you have to tell him what you have in your mind. If he doesn’t listen to you, you should make him understand, you should let him know that you love him no matter what”
“This is it. This is my life. Nobody can change my fate. I can say X Y Z to him but all he would want from me is to work with him” I said with nothing much to say about my life. Life was like a torn shirt to me.
“You are talking BS. What is this fate? It is in you, man. You cannot let your Father be the owner of your life. Don’t be a duffer. You are not a person without a brain. When you have a brain, when you have a heart, why can’t you talk to your Dad about your life... I am not telling you to drown in the sea, I am telling you to talk to your Dad. What business do you want to do with Anil”
“I haven’t thought about it. But I don’t want to work with my Dad. When you are telling me all this I think it’s going to be fine... My Dad, I don’t know how he is going to react” I said
“If you don’t ask a woman to marry you, you’ll never know what she has in her mind. If you don’t talk to your Dad, you’ll never know what he has to say about it. There’s traffic in your head, the only way to snap out of it is to talk to your Dad. What do you say”
“Do you think he’s going to say yes”
“If he says Yes, it’s good. If he says No, try again, try again till you see the green signal” he said with a smile that resembled the tooth paste commercial.
“Can I call him now” I said
“What are you waiting for, the tsunami, call him”

I called home, Mom picked up the phone “Hello, Shekar, where are you? When are you coming home? Is everything all right? Are you getting good food there”
When there are so many questions to answer you forget the purpose of the call. “Mom, everything is okay. I want to talk to Dad. Is he home” I said.

Dad took the phone “Ahh hello, Shekar, when are you coming home. You know, you have to come to the office next week. Are you coming home or are you settling there only in Kanyakumari”
Man in the black trousers asked me to say what was in my mind when he saw me speechless.
“Dad, I... I... I want to be a tree. No, no, Dad, I want to start a business with my friend Anil, you know him, you have seen him. I would like to work with you Dad, no, Dad, no, I cannot work with you Dad. I cannot explain why. I cannot assist you in your business”
Waves made more noise than the phone line. He spoke exactly after 30 seconds.
“What’s wrong with you. Are you drunk. You agreed to assist me, you will be the head in a couple of years. Do you want to miss all that. You want to start a business with your friend. When you can work with your friend, why can’t you work with me” he said with much amusement.
“Dad, I want to start a business with my friend. I love you but this business should not be the bone of contention”
“What business do you have in your mind”
“I haven’t thought about it but we will let you know in a month”
“In a month, I think you are drunk. You should have told me this before. Now, it’s too late. I have told everybody that you will be joining us in a week. That’s it, I don’t want to hear anything. You are joining us in a week”
“Dad, I may join and be the head of your business but that doesn’t make me happy. If not today, you will get to know about my unhappiness some day. If I am not happy in what I am doing, what’s the point in doing it Dad”
“Can you tell me who’s teaching you all this crap” Dad said
“Dad, nobody. I want to start a business, look after the business like you looked after me. Your business is your baby and my business is going to be my baby. Let me do it and even you will be happy at the end of the day”
“Shekar, you cannot start a business. It’s very difficult”
I stopped him “Dad, I want to take a new route. Easy or difficult, I don’t care as long as I love what I do”
“Dad, say yes, you will be happy”
“Come home, we will talk about it” he said
“Even at home, this is what I am going to say. Say yes, I will be happy and you will be happy”
“Okay but”
“No ifs and buts, Dad. No risk, no gain... You told me this when I was young”
“Okay Shekar, do whatever you want. Do whatever makes you happy”
“Thanks, Dad. Now, I am relieved, thanks” I said.
He hung up the phone. I looked at my phone and then the beach, now, the waves made some sense to me. The Man in the black trousers sat next to me, he wrapped his arms around me.
He said “Life is a bus station, you wait for a bus. You get the bus, if you don’t get in, you will get another but you’ll never get the same bus”
I didn’t understand what he was trying to say. Nevertheless I had to thank one person in this world for the miracle, and that man would be the man in the black trousers.
“Sir, I don’t even know your name. In spite of all this you helped me, you helped a stranger, you helped your pillion rider. I can’t just say thanks. You have given me a new lease of life” I said with tears in my eyes. This time it was ‘the happy tears’.
“Life is not about heart beat or the pulse rate. It’s about what you are going to do when you are alive” he said looking at the drowning sun. If he were a pretty woman I would have kissed him. Since, he is a man I hugged him and thanked him. He was leaving, said he was in a hurry. I had to ask his name, we may never get a chance to meet again.
“You didn’t tell me your name” I said.
“You never asked” he said with the smile he had an hour ago.
“I’m sorry, I was confused”
“Now, I am relieved, time to relax, watch the sun go down” I said
“Good. My name’s Siddhanth”
“Good name” I said not knowing what to say after that.
“Enjoy your sunset, goodbye”

His words worked as the lighthouse in the dark sea “Life is not about heart beat or the pulse rate. It’s about what you are going to do when you are alive”


All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Karthik Keramalu.
Published on e-Stories.org on 12/30/2010.


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