One evening, I got a WhatsApp message from an unknown number, saying: “Hey Anusha! Puttu here. I am in Mumbai for a project. Let’s meet.”
And here was Puttu (Patanjali Bhati). Puttu and I were like peas in a pod during our childhood, and studied together from Classes 1 to 5 in Jodhpur between 1990 and 1995. Our world was alive with doll houses, chocolate puddings, pyjama parties and ‘my best friend’ cards. Then our fathers, who were in the army, got posted out. In our hearts, we both knew that it was goodbye for now. Facebook and chat applications, that could have helped us stay in touch, came into the world much later, when we had settled happily into careers and marriage.
As our laughter resonated and we remembered the joyous times that we had shared, I marvelled at the ease with which 20 years had simply melted away, faster than molten chocolate sauce was absorbed by the warm sponge cake on our plates. The diversity in our personalities and professions (she is a painter and filmmaker, while I am an income tax lawyer) was inconsequential.
Were these two decades or a microsecond? It depends on how we perceive time — whether we go back and cherish the beautiful memories, or we allow this 20-year rift to widen and take us further apart. We chose the former, and made time powerless.
Time is a dimension we created to systemise our lives and bring some discipline into it. Time is not an asset when we constrict ourselves by encapsulating every experience into slots of 24 hours, six months, a year, or a decade etc. and run against the clock. Then time enslaves us. A year can make us feel older, and we wait for the seventh day of the week to take some time out for self. We can’t find time for things closest our heart — which might be opening a care centre for animals, taking that dream vacation to a distant land, planting tomatoes in a terrace garden, or saying “I love you”. We keep waiting for time, while time never waits.
The only time is now. We have the choice to treat time as a fluid dimension, to stretch and contract it based on what we think is best. Then time will never be too short or too long. Allow it to flow like a playful river, meandering in the mountains, sometimes forming glorious waterfalls, and other times joining the vast expanse of the sea merrily.
The writer is a nature enthusiast and tax consultant based in Mumbai