Ancient writings, Remembering

Call to account

 [Published in the Times of India , 29 January 1994. Now, nearly 30 years later, it’s an appropriate time to re-inflict it upon thee, O hapless and most valued Readers, as I contemplate a career shift while still young…]

Twelve years. For twelve years did I immerse myself in the Sea of Black Ink, but already the memories are fading. Of the thousands of acres of neatly typed audit reports; the yellow and red vouchers; the sing-song tones of head clerks checking the balance books (…two hundred and thirteen fifty, one thousand and four sixty five…); the sweet jingle of token and coin, the rustle of currency notes. Time, then, was measured by the daily day-book, the weekly performance report, the quarterly returns; and the annual  closing was a ceremony in itself, culminating in shrill cries of joy – or sometimes, when the branch office showed a loss of something like 32 lakhs, in the most horrendous moaning, and the only sound to break the silence thereafter would be a sharp rip-and-tear as the manager divested himself of what little hair he had left.

Exciting indeed were those 12 years…

But now, suddenly, here I am.  Adrift upon the oceans,  having cast my anchor overboard and the oars after it.  I’ve quit the bank, and now the memories are slipping away, faster and faster, in a steady stream, soon to become a torrent and then a raging cataract, emptying the mind and leaving a great hollowness to be filled by…what?

My friends have, of course, been of immense support.

“You’re mad,” they said, shaking their heads in disbelief. “No job waiting for you, yet you just up and quit!”

“You’re lucky,” they said excitedly, “Now you can do anything you like! Row a boat across the Brahmaputra, buy an elephant, why, you’re so lucky!”

“You’ve got guts!” they exclaimed. “Just quitting like that…why, wish we could do the same!” Having said which they glanced at their watches and rushed off to their telephones and PCs and deadlines and conferences.

And when they’ve left I look around at my priceless possessions – the accumulated debris of 12 years – and I begin to tremble. Were they right after all? Am I really nuts, or at least a wee bit gaga?

Consider: I have, to my credit, a music system; a mixer; a settee; a guitar; a dhol, clay pot and six flutes; four cushions, twenty potted plants, a few score books and garbled memories.

Where do I go now?

Stop! I cry to myself. Think! Consider and analyse your innermost desires! You can do whatever you set your mind on doing. Focus upon your yearning, give it a direction, and strengthen yourself for the journey with the courage of conviction. Aha! That’s it.

I want to play music. To play the drums and the clay pot before a suitably delirious audience of three million. I want to drive a suburban train. To trek across the Himalayan ranges; to eat from a copper pot cooked over a slow wood fire in a silent pine forest. I want to dream, and to live in my dreams as long as I wish with the option to change channels. I want to write the greatest story ever written…so that they’ll know my name from Managua to Mokokchung.

Dear Ed, do you think I have possibilities?  Please make out your crossed cheque favouring…but there I go again, slipping back into the mindset of yesteryear.

Alas! Like too many I’d come across in those 12 years, this account is overdrawn.