“Some of us live happy lives with miserable parts, and some of us live miserable lives with happy parts. No matter what the ratio at any given point, these emotions are preset. The earlier we identify the life we live, the easier it gets to deal with misery”
I started out as an introvert… as a scared timid single-digit-old kid, who would day dream endlessly. From wallowing in self pity to finding myself at the wrong end of every situation and from obsession over lack of superiority in any aspect of life to living with the tag of mediocre, life was all but within me seeped in some obtuse misery.
Then college happened and as those teachers with 0% imagination say at farewell parties, ‘a whole new world appeared’. A world much more ruthless, a world where superiority in each department was classified and noted. A world that truly didn’t care if you were miserable but loved you if you were entertaining. A place where if you pee in your pants, you and only you choose how the world will react to it.
Sell it as misfortune and you are the “wet-pant-pansy” but sell it as slapstick comedy and you shall be “the dude who pees…without a damn for the world”, the quintessential “SUSU MAN” if you will. (*SUSU is a slang for peeing in hindi, especially for little kids who were asked categorically ‘BABA, You want to do SUSU?’. As if it was something great or a noble act that BABA was about to do)
Anyways I digress, so that’s when I switched sides. From a bubbling introvert, I became a complete extrovert with a high pitched voice and a penchant for sarcasm and incessant conversations. Someone who could afford to laugh on himself with the same self loathing with which he laughed on others. It was some kind of defence mechanism, that just popped up within me when i felt surrounded by the world.
It started off as “jokes on myself”, but when i saw the world laughing I realised the catch, “if told well, people find someone else’s misery immensely funny”. And this became my escapism. In simple terms, you fuck up and I shall make an anecdote out of you. And if I fuck up, then it’s the case of “SUSU MAN”. Life wasn’t half bad down this road of sarcasm, wit and humour in tragedy.
For example, back in my early 20s, my dad and I had to go to funeral procession of an aged aunt who passed away after a prolonged sickness. As a custom, before the funeral procession, the body is kept for a while so that people can mourn their loved one’s demise. Like others even I sat in a corner, not so much mourning but lost in thoughts of the afterlife. Maybe its the intensity of my thoughts that I forgot the 10 small candies mints i picked up on my way. My dad had rushed me out of bed so I had no time to brush my teeth and hence the mint mouth-fresheners (conveniently forgetting that the people who had just lost a much valued member of their family wouldn’t care about my breath)
The plan was to switch the candies from my shirt pocket into my trouser pockets but I guess I was too much of thinker to remember such small details. I did remember it though, a little later. To be precise, it was when we had to lift the body and start the funeral procession. As i bent down near the body, it happened. The candies in my pocket jumped out as if fuelled by a rebellion to not hide in anonymity anymore! Either way all i could remember is staring at candies and thinking “why me”. I did salvage the situation though, by asking everyone who was in mourning, “Do you want a breath mint?” and they all laughed it off.
Today I am not so sure, but back in the day this story was a hit! In reality what happened after the incident was that my dad went into some intense pondering of his own. And I am sure, he was thinking if he had laser vision he could melt me with his stare or, why did we need to have 2 kids? He didn’t talk to me for a week or so, and I have never bought that particular brand of mint since.
Anyways I digress, so those were the years of my so called extroverted-ness. But life is a circle and so is every small action or emotion within it. What has given you pain, shall one day again give you pain and everything you thought you would never be again, you are that one fine day. The same was the case with me, as I evolved with time, I found the whole process of being an extrovert intensely meaningless. People will laugh if you tell them something funny, it doesn’t have to be at the cost of someone else (unless that someone is a good sport or you and your audience both hate that someone).
And so I got back to being an introvert. But things had changed. Internet had happened. No one was a true introvert anymore, we were all social media extroverts.Which wasn’t a problem the deactivate button wouldn’t solve. But the misery within doesn’t stop piling simply because you want to stop sharing or laughing over it. So I decided to direct it into my writings. Make people who read it as miserable as me, till today.
Today is the birthday of a very cute girl. I have known her since her birth, but never truly known her till the day she was miserable. Today I care immensely about her and today, she asked me to write something funny… something happy. And this is what i wanted to gift her.
But today my mind cant find that strain extroverted humour that used to flow so freely within me. Today I have become someone who believes that tragedy in our lives are God’s ways of making his own life interesting. Today I am an introvert, who is also dubbed as “ASOCIAL”. So if life is circle and I am where I started, then it’s time… time to laugh on myself so that I may make her laugh. And if not, well, I at-least gave her my best laughing try.
So here we go.
Age for me is a number, I feel young and old at the same time so I have never considered myself old or above 30. Of course there are a few really young kids who call me ‘uncle’ but I ignore them like India ignores Pakistan.
But yesterday while walking into my building, 10 kids were playing some god-forsaken game in the lobby yelling incoherently. Though as I passed by, they did stop their mindless yelling and directed it to something useful, telling each other, ‘Wait let “uncle” pass’. As i was getting into the lift and the college-going-chump who stays a floor below me, opened the lift door and said chivalrously, ‘Uncle please, you first’, even though there was a girl (college-going-chumpy) who stays next to me along with us.
When I got into the lift with them, they decided to take selfies together, only to stop midway as I was photobombing them. The girl then quickly whatsapped the guy, “Lets do it later, seems like ‘uncle’s’ having a bad day”.
When I finally reached my floor, I moved into action swiftly and opened the door before the girl decided to hold it open for me. But I realised that the lobby light was off so I couldn’t see the key hole to my front door. While I kept fumbling with my keys in the dark, the girl who stays opposite me who also was in a similar situation opened her door in a flash. But she didn’t go in, she walked upto me and said, “Uncle doesn’t your phone have a torch?”.
By then, I had lost it. I turned around and told her “Aunty! My phone isn’t some swiss army knife. It’s an expensive phone with apps and what not, but it doesn’t have torch. But please don’t worry about me, I can increase the brightness of display and find the keyhole”. She calmly shrugged her shoulder and walked back, but not before saying “Or you could just use the camera flash as torch, Uncle”. After she left, I stood in darkness for 15 minutes thinking of a comeback. 15 minutes later, uncle used the camera flash and went inside the house.
Hope this story brought a smile or a chuckle to whomsoever read it. And to she, whom I intended to write it for, the moral of my story is simple, “If we are those who live miserable lives with happy parts, then misery is ours and we have to live with it. But if we learn to smile over it or make people laugh with it. Maybe we will see the humour in our own tragedy and have some happy parts in misery”