“Would you like to color your hair to cover the greys, Sir?” asked the hairstylist at the salon. Greys, he thought; was it for real or was it the one of the regular ways of these posh salons to mint more money from the customers? He knew he had one visible grey hair but what did ‘greys’ mean? Plural? Were there more ‘greys’ at spots that were not visible to him in the mirror?
“No thanks,” he said “just a hair cut and a head massage. That’ll be all.”
After he was done, he came out, walked to the train station and caught the next local train to Churchgate. It had been a long time since he had got some lone time in this bustling city he so loved. With this new preoccupation, he barely had the time to even indulge in reading the long due stash of books he had bought sometime back. But today was different, today he really needed some time to retrospect and look back at his life. It was essential as the next day he was going to turn a quarter century old.
He walked to the Marine Drive promenade and found a quite spot away from people on both sides and sat down looking at the vast Arabian Sea in front of him. The sun was setting on his right, it was turning dark and the ocean breeze was cool enough to comfort him from the humid weather of this city.
It had been quite sometime since the dread of turning 25 was on his mind. 25, sounds old. It was not too long ago he recalled he turned 21 back when in college. Life seemed so sorted out then. He bagged this job offer from a top Professional Services firm during college itself. At 21, it seemed that there was so much to life, so much he could do; travel, explore the world, try new cuisines, meet new people, fall in love and what not? But not anymore at 25. Time was running out, he thought.
Where did this time go? These four years? Life caught up probably. Soon after college he joined this firm which bought him to Bombay, after a year he got engrossed in preparing for his masters, and soon the interview season started for the Management Schools across India making him travel oh so frequently, then came the last day of his job and now it has been 5 months at this school. Will the rest of his life pass like this? Would it be that one day he would wake up to realize that he was 30 and still feel that there was a lot he needed to do before he reached that age?
‘It’s not like he didn’t do any of the things he had planned at 21. He backpacked solo across certain parts of the country, enjoyed exotic foods, met many people, made new friends; but still there was one aspect he didn’t know in which direction he was going. After going through a broken relationship with no hope and trying to work upon another one where circumstances were such that he couldn’t help it, he felt lost. He knew what was it that was making his relationships fail or not take off at all. He didn’t know if it was right to blame himself for it. The opportunities he lost due to the excessive focus on his career, would those relationships have been so different if he wasn’t so career-centric? If so, then he wouldn’t have been at this place professionally he was where he had worked hard to be. But was it of much help when it had cost him so much personally? Or was he just over-reacting and freaking out at the cusp of hitting the psychologically important age?
He didn’t know, he didn’t have the answers.
A glance at the watch showed it was midnight. He made sure his cell phone was switched off. He didn’t want to be disturbed. Happy Birthday! You completed a quarter century on this insignificant planet. He chuckled, stood up, stretched his arms and tried to grasp this realization and turned back to walk towards the train station, to the grind of daily routine life in this city with so many people but no one in particular to understand and console him. Those who could were sitting somewhere far in another corner of the planet engrossed in their lives. Soon he was out of sight, lost amidst the crowd, one of the innumerable souls who inhabited that island… 25, he turned that day!