It was yet another day in New York City. To every other person, it was just another Monday, the beginning of the week. I have a wonderful perception; for me, it was another special day in itself-a day that begins and never ends.
After reluctantly leaving the bed, I prepared myself for the day this morning. A cup of cereals with milk and a glass of orange juice, typically Tropicana with some pulp, marked the beginning of Monday morning. I caught the early morning train to work. The M-train to Delancy Street where I make a transfer to F-train to the Bergen Street and a couple of blocks on foot to the Provence en Boite, the French Bistro and Patisserie where I work. This has been my routine for the past two months of summer. It is Monday, when I do the ‘full day’ duty, meaning double shifts which starts at 9 AM in the morning till 11 PM in the night. But unfortunately, the night goes as far as 12 midnight generally, and it’s almost past 1 AM in the morning when I reach my room. So, at 7 in the morning when my cell phone rang as an alarm for me to wake up, I saw myself back home, exhausted, and having had a ‘not-so-good’ Monday business, and hence not very heavy on the pocket either. But then it was 9 AM and I was already there, eager to face a new day, with all the challenges welcome.
I love surprises every now and then. And this beautiful morning had some for me. I was off the schedule. I was free, emancipated as I would prefer to call it. I don’t care what reasons the owners explained to me about why I was off the schedule, that it was my end of the job. But how I interpreted it matters more to me. What I heard in my mind was, “Hey boy, this is the end of the summer for you. Now that it’s already the beginning of the fall. Go get prepared. You have some research proposal to do. You have some writing stuff to do. You have got to go and research about financing your studies. You have not visited some beautiful parks in the town. Go, have some fun. Enjoy life. You should understand that life is not all about bussing the tables all summer.” I was just enlightened.
It was second day in a row I had been enlightened. (How interesting that I get enlightened again and again!)
Just the previous day, I had been taught how important a person I was, that it was not worth giving myself up for trivial reasons. I was encouraged that I had higher dreams to rely on, that my present perceptions could not be my limits. It was good to know. The story had begun when I got enthused to a stranger. I know it is weird to be, but it is equally logical at times. Sometimes, it works out well between strangers. Sometimes, it makes sense to know what others are, and to let others know what you are, and then to realize that you have just done the right thing. It sometimes turns out that having missed an opportunity is an opportunity gone forever. You might not regret about it anytime in the future, for the reason that you never know what it was, or would have been like. But may be, that it would have been the best thing that ever happened to you. It could be worse either, but I don’t have the habit of looking behind the shadow. And with me, nothing can ever be worse. At least I believe so. I believe in speaking my heart out. And I did, as I have always done. I heard it in my mind, “Hey gentle man, you have a long way to go. You deserve more than what you are aspiring for. I don’t fit on the scale you measured with. You had a bad dream. Wake up and get going, go further.” I am not schizophrenic; I don’t “hear” sounds. But, I am pretty good at understanding things my way, so that I can keep smiling everyday. I believe in dreams. So, I also believe in nightmares. And I accept both. This morning when I woke up, I was a different person.
So, it was 15 minutes past 9 AM in the morning, and it had already been 15 minutes since I had been freed. I immediately followed my intuition, and was on my way to the biggest park in town I had not been to. Central Park was a nice place to be, especially on a day like this when every single thing looked different. It’s not because I had never seen the leaves falling off the trees, not because I had never seen a beautiful lake. It’s not because I had not seen the rocks, or that I had not seen people jogging, or walking on the sidewalks. Not also because people were playing football and lawn tennis, or because mothers were walking their adorable little kids. It was not the first time I had seen kids playing on their strollers, not definitely the first time I had seen an ice-cream stall in the middle of the garden. I had also seen cyclists race along the road, and children playing on the sand. A number of times that I had seen couples sitting on the grass, and being mushy or guys sitting on the bench, reading novels or newspapers. But honestly, it was the first time a leaf ever fell off a tree as gracefully, revolving and rotating and swerving and swirling and swaying and comfortably landing on the ground, being turned upside down, and around before being swept away with the dust by a puff of wind. I could not exactly figure out what stage I was going through, whether I was still there growing on some branch as a plumule in the spring, or staying fixed, mature and strong, or falling off loose, weak and pale. I did not know how many turns I had to take, how many rotations and swerves, or whether my landing would be as comfortable, what puff of wind would blow me, on which direction, to what destination. I did not even know whether I was the tree losing a part of it, or a leaf been freed. I did not know whether the tree was missing its leaf, or waving it a goodbye with honor. I did not know whether it was happy about a new one that would take its place, or worried about the dear one that it lost. But I prefer to believe that I am the leaf still there, affixed, beatifying the grace of the tree.
After a few hours of wonderful moments at the Central Park, I was on my way to another of my favorites, the Union Square Park. Union Square Park has its own charm. With a number of art stalls laid by the sidewalk, and painters and designers showing off their artwork, with craftsmen selling their handicrafts and full of people with their eyes stuck at the beautiful paintings and designs, this park has its own specialty. Public gatherings, of women collected to share the experiences of maternity, or those to talk about the reality behind 9/11 attacks, or the people from societies against cruelty to animals displaying “Adopt Me” dogs and cats, Union Square Park is a unique place in its own. Also because of the vegetable and fruit stalls on the other side, or the flower shops on the other, because of the café at the back, and because of the famous statues that attract pointed fingers, the park is a beautiful place to get lost into nowhere. Whether you want to sit down on the lawn and be engulfed in thought or walk around to see the art and paintings, and plunge into the world of imagination, this is a wonderful place to be. It had my beautiful morning glorified. Having spent the morning of a life time, I came back home.
Sitting down with my computer now, I am looking at my journey in retrospection. The transformation from a decent student to a sandwich maker to a stock boy to a delivery boy to a waiter to a cashier to a busboy and runner, and the tremendous changes I went through in every transformation. The way I learnt to live life through the journey, and to find areas to take a rest on the way, to revitalize and to rejuvenate for the long way yet untrodden, as everyone has to, under his own circumstances, walk it till the end. Beyond the journey from Myrtle-Wyckoff to Bergen, or from Rolla to New York City, or from Kathmandu to Rolla, or even beyond that from Kathmandu to Bhopal to New Delhi, or that from Sunsari to Kathmandu, I am trying to conceive the journey of life, and the turns it takes every now and then. I am trying to understand how your choice of the right path at the crossroad leads you to the destination. I am trying to fathom that mystery of life which always leaves you with a choice of multiple paths at the crossroad, and saves you from the dead ends. I am trying to see the beauty of life in the way journey continues. I am trying to solve the conundrum, of meeting strangers round the corner, befriending them, walking along some distance together, and departing at the crossroad that comes.
I know it’s never about the destination. It’s not about where you are heading to. It’s only about the journey you traverse, and more so about how beautifully you do it. It’s only about the precious moments when you forgot how far you had come or what pain you went through to reach there. It’s only about the time when thorns pricked your sole, and you knew what pain was. It is only about the euphoric nap you took on the shade of a tree by the road in the middle of your journey. It’s not about where you reach, when you reach, but only about how you walked your way. For, life, to me, is a journey- well, a series of them. When it seems to be the end of one, it is, but the beginning of another. Sometimes, some days, begin, and never end.
bipul (Aug 6, 2007, NY)