Posted by: Mojo Jojo | June 7, 2008

And one for the road…

There was this time when I was just twelve, and everybody was oh so eager to know what I wanted to do in life.
These guests would come in, pesky ones, and they would pinch me hard on the cheek until it turned strawberry red (like it’s the best thing you could do to a person) and ask, “So! Tell me, baby (Oh chooo chweeeettt!)… What do you want to beeeee when youuuu grow up? Tell us, baybeeeee!”
And I, grimacing from the pain and wondering furiously if I should retaliate, would just forget to answer for whole long seconds. Which, in turn, would make my parents interrupt the sweet conversation and explain hastily, “Doctor, doctor… He wants to be a doctor.”
Now, I wasn’t really fascinated by the possibility of becoming somebody who checks people’s heartbeats for a living. Hmm, I do remember my father saying at some point back then that doctors get the best wives, but – well – at twelve, I wasn’t really interested in wives either.
Not that he would understand, anyway.
Then, finally, there came an evening when I decided that enough was enough. I needed to get an answer ready for the visitors, at least something that may stop them from mutilating me in front of my family. So, after a lot of thought, I formed an answer in my mind.
An honest-to-God truthful answer.
But, like ol’ Jack said in that movie with Demi and Tom, “You can’t handle the truth!” Well, at least my parents and the guests couldn’t.
“Truck driver?!” the pesky auntie-next-door asked, horror writ all over her face, and repeated again: “Truck driver?!”
“Truck driver,” I confirmed, nodding my head sagaciously, “I would like to become a truck driver.”
Well, at least that got her claws off me. And the topic as well.
I remember mentioning this incident in an earlier post, and so I sha’nt dwell on it anymore. But the point over here is: why did I choose such a profession? A classmate of mine wanted to become a cricketer (I last saw his photo on Orkut, sitting somewhere near the Grand Canyon with a digital notebook on his lap), another didn’t want to do anything less than become an astronaut and fly to Mars (joined his father’s cycle shop business, I think) and the third’s aim was to become an engineer (he became anΒ  engineer). I wanted to become a truck driver.
Well, my dad changed all that as soon as the guest had left, but that’s another story.
Maybe it was because I felt so shackled by everyday rules back then (get off that bed, brush your teeth, comb hair, rush to school, get bullied by teachers, come back by six, eat that cabbage, take a deep breath, do some math, off to sleep), and a turbaned traveller’s job was what I envisioned as liberating. Now, I knew that truck drivers don’t have it easy either, but at least they get to go past the horizon – don’t they? I was even forbidden from looking at it. My life was here, with my ball and chain.
Back then, I couldn’t wait to grow out of my Bata Naughtyboy shoes and head for college. There was where all the freedom lay, I thought. And I was right – to an extent.
MCC was what made me. No, it wasn’t like some gnarled peepal tree under which I went and sat, and got enlightened five years later. Quite to the contrary, it spoilt the shit out of me, introduced me to stuff that would have made good folks go climb a tree, and taught me a little about heartbreaks and the wasted years that follow them. But it also made me look into myself and see me for the person that I want to be. It taught me to break (remember the ragging year?) and then rebuild myself soon after. It goaded me to go down paths I had never been before, but it also helped me see the line of no return.Β  And it gave me some very good friends, for whom I am eternally grateful.
But no, freedom was still an eternity away. “Maybe you need to be standing on your own legs to achieve that,” I thought. And got myself a job.
I was wrong again, as I realised a few months ago. I couldn’t do anything I wanted to even if Dr Hook’s richer uncle died and passed on all his gold doubloons to me. There are bonds that tie me, I realised, and they are as much a part of me as the very flesh on my bones. And no, they are not going to let me drive that truck down that horizon. Even if I fled to the darkest part of Africa, they would be there – yanking me back and standing before every step I take.
And it’s all for the good, I know. But before those final cords come to tie me down into an institution, I shall get away for a few days – maybe 10 – and fulfil a childhood dream. Go to places without a plan or map. Eat and sleep at strange places. Get exhausted walking through landscapes that I had only seen in schoolbook pictures. Try my sign language skills on passing strangers.
No, I may not have a truck to drive but I sure hope they will let me hitch a ride now and then. For saying goodbye to something that I had so naively wished for seventeen years ago.

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Responses

  1. aawww…

  2. i remember saying i wanted to be a minister….. until i saw one

  3. When I got low grades I remember my parents teasing me whether I was on the way to become a auto rickshaw driver. But I guess auto drivers are earning more than me right now .. πŸ˜‰

  4. @ Shilpa: Awww is right πŸ™‚

    @ Twisted spoons: Minister, as in religious or political? Though, I must admit, both could be quite a let down. Heh!

    @ Mattiz: Ha Ha! Very true. Especially if you are an auto driver in Bangalore. Or Chennai (man, those guys are cut-throats!)

  5. I wanted to be a doc when I was young..i dint know what it really involved..and then I got to my 10th grade and realized that it involved young beautiful nurses. And my resolve strengthened..Fortunately or unfortunately, my intellect didnt strengthen with my resolve. Older and wiser now πŸ™‚

    And hey Jimbo..catch a Pandi lorry to Trivandrum man…plan that getaway soon.. πŸ™‚

  6. Jim, this post almost made me cry for the little boy you used to be. Go on that break, man! Hitch that ride in a truck.

  7. @ Shain: Ha ha! Yeah, you always had that thing for nurses .. and yo, what better incentive, huh? And yeah, planning to go through a lot of Kerala (in August, maybe) so we just might be able to catch up for that beer you promised me last time πŸ™‚

    @ 3inone: Ha ha! thanks, Liz. Planning to do that soon. Gotta do it while I still can πŸ™‚

  8. One of my uncles used to advice me once I got into 10th grade. He wud keep on saying on how I should be a doc(his son is a doc) and how prestigious the profession is. I wanted to be an engineer. he said I should take biology (I hate that subject) and gave me his routine advices. Once I got so mad that I said even if I want to be a doc I will only be a vet.
    Uncle’s jaw dropped, aunty screamed, dad ran for cover and I won the case.
    No I am not a vet. I took engineering. πŸ˜€

  9. Ha ha. Served him right. My relatives also tried their best to steer my career in the direction they wanted. But I managed to prevail and though I didn’t manage to get that truck driver job, I did become a scribe – which is close! πŸ˜›

  10. i think even iv planned to become a lorry driver or something wen i was 7.. me, who wouldnt want to drive if someone gave me a merc and taught me to drive it too! but i think kids have a thing for these ‘public servants’ πŸ˜€

    th other thing i wanted to be was a cricket commentator, like Harsha Bhogle, till I realised that I had to talk fast as well as smart for that πŸ™‚


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