The year has taught you reticence and fear.
You fear revealing too much of yourself.
You know judgments don’t matter to you, but they matter somewhere, elsewhere, and this year you have seen what it means when the otherwheres collide with your world – nothing remains inviolable.
You fear conversation now.
You are bored by those conversations that reveal others, revile them, render them tragically insignificant.
You keep it light. You keep it tepid.
You are the Bangalore winter, not the life-defying winter of Delhi.
You even talk guardedly about the weather because there is no going back once you utter the words. Once you utter them, they are forever open to scrutiny and criticism. You have committed yourself to the weather.
You are afraid to even post something you like on Facebook now with the standard, “I liked this because…” You know there will be three at least who will say, “But, how can you…” Even prefacing any comment with a ‘personally’ won’t keep the critics quiet. They will defend their tastes and opinions. They will rarely forgive you for submitting your tastes while not being subservient to their likes.
And suddenly, everybody knows of you. Because they know of you, they think they know you. So you are watched. Strangers are constantly ticking what they see of you with what they think they know.
“My God! So lucky! I love what you do. I wish I had your job.”
“I love the way you write things on Facebook.”
They think they know you. They think this is all you are. The writing. The irreverence. The boldness on paper. The outgoingness of having a million friends and a million followers everywhere.
Of course, you must be the life of the party. You are fun, and radiant, and bitchy.
They look at you meaningfully when they mock the way someone speaks or something someone wears. They want you to join in the mockery and say something cutting as they have been told you do. Again, you don’t know how such stories spread, because you haven’t done that ever. They are nonplussed and disappointed when at a gathering, you avoid looking at anyone for long because you are shy and bored.
‘Why won’t you make fun of accents? Have you seen that ridiculous dress!’
It has to be because you are acting superior, they deduce.
They try the more personal route.
“I love your pictures.”
“I hated you in that one because you both looked so beautiful. What is your scene?”
It’s your turn to be nonplussed. You try and say ‘thank you’ with grace and find something to compliment them on, but they see it as an invitation to pry into your most sacred relationships. You want to not be rude even though you are offended at the familiarity. You say, “It’s complicated” when someone asks. It’s the worst thing you could possibly say. It only piques their curiosity.
You realise you will end up something of a happy recluse as a successful year draws to a close.
You live with your thoughts, the promise of Skype calls over the week, the instant messages that help you wake up and face newer days, the few rare outings with people who have known you from a simpler and tortured time. And you don’t desire much else. You are unimaginably wise in shutting out the world and so utterly foolish to have shut out the world, so much so that you sometimes feel life is happening elsewhere.
You exist as a mass of contradictions.
You will not leave social media nor will you stop pursuing the media, but you know the price you will pay for that because life apparently spills from there onto the real world.
Instead, you revel in the make-believe world of books, those you are going to read and why you will know the things you do.
You will plan holidays and meetings with family who expect nothing more from you than that you will have a good time. That you will live happily again. That you will support and sustain the relationship with yourself, first.
This is the biggest lesson the year taught you.
You are infinitesimally small, an important being, yes, but not at all significant.
Your world is shifting, changing, reforming. Everything is mutable. And you cannot control anything. Everything changes. Even you. Mostly you.
So you don’t take yourself seriously anymore.