In front of me was a teenager of 18/19 years old. He paid no attention to our talks. He was busy playing with his mobile. He looked similar to the other guys of his age. Spiked and uncut hair, absence of a moustache, perhaps sad as he did not have it, he had disclosed about absence of a beard long back. Dressed in short shirt and jeans, restlessness but audacity on the face. His parents had forced and sent for career counseling. But he was talking on all other subjects except studies and career. There was a lot of annoyance when he started talking about his career. In fact, Nikhil had scored good marks in his tenth and twelfth standards and was intelligent. But it seems something was upset with him nowadays. In his talks, he explored different topics that covered his friends, his bike-rides, face book, whats app, the new Samsung Note 3, Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika’s movie, Ye Jawani Hai Diwani, his so called girl friends etc. His talks were not homogeneous, as talking about career included sending some message to friend on whats app,showing some girl friends snap to me, and hearing various ring tones.
While listening to him, I remembered my first day at college. After the tenth result, all our gang had taken admission to S P College. I had thoroughly prepared for the first day of the college. Dress in a specific way, do this, go with friends etc, and finally the day arrived. I was palpitating when I entered the main gate of the college. How would college be? How would the atmosphere be? Will I meet any one I already know? Most importantly, will girls notice me? Will I be able to talk to girls? Will I create any impression on them? I was educated in a boys school and had no idea about talking to girls. I had a pronounced understanding that, like others, one must pass comments and ridicule in college. We were members of the abandoned gang. We were a group of Kishor, Milind, Pradip, I and 9/10 more. Kishor was our leader, a national level player of KhoKho, having plenty of other information. He talked to everyone with a rapport; rather students came to talk to him from here and there. He knew some girls too as he used to go to practice on the ground in the evening. Hence I would try to imitate his behavior and talks and would often be let down by others. To summarize, we were enjoying our college life. Daily we had some or the other fun and activity. We bunked the college lectures every alternate day and attended movies. Sometimes the entire group or only 2 / 3 of us. In the evening we were found on the ground too. We wasted the whole day having fun, following girls, passing comments, ridiculing and being mischievous. Not a single girl in the college was spared by our comments. However our comments were never vulgar or slay. They usually produced jokes and many girls were happy about it. Gradually, activities like ground, gathering, Purushottam Karandak one act play competition, debate, Kalamandal gave us many friends who were girls. We were introduced to many beautiful girls. This also started with gossip, hangout and coffee with them.
And this gave rise to love affairs, conflicts, fights, breakups and patchups and as a leader Kishor had to shoulder all these responsibilities. He too used to give considerable time to each girl, understand her and would make a patch up. There were different places of patch ups for all. Kalpana, Vishwa, Darbar were the places to discuss the issue with Kishor. I always wondered about how he could understand so many girls and behave accordingly with them? Why does everyone come to him with their problems? How does this guy resolve their problems? I was always eager and jealous about this. Because I could do nothing like that. I neither had a friend who was a girl, nor a girl friend. I looked for an opportunity to do so, in the drama or any role to be performed on the stage in my college. But usually nothing would happen.
‘SHE’ was one of the most beautiful. Everybody kept looking at her. I too gazed to see her. I used to day-dream that she would look at me, would initiate talks with me, then we would have a cup of coffee, all my friends would incinerate, with a triumphal joy I would enter the college, everyone would stare at me, among the crowd, she would come towards me, and again giving everyone the feel of jealousy, we would move to the college building chitchatting with each other. But she would neither look at me, nor notice my existence, and would go with her friends, right in front of me. Inwardly, I would be unhappy, miserable and depressed. I was not even noticed, was what I felt about myself. It was not possible to share this with any one. If I did share, all would have ridiculed and escapaded me.
“Sir, Let me know what should I do? I am confused about what to do in the future. I have thought to some extent, but I am not able to decide about my career.“ Hearing this from Nikhil, I switched from my past to his present. Unwillingly, I had to forget “her” and focus myself on Nikhil’s problem. But I could not wipe “her” memory that flashed in front of my eyes. Even today, after so many years, I can still remember “her”.
“But Nikhil, are u aware of what exact career would u like to have? “ Nikhil was confused, “Means, choosing which field as a career is the main question”. I further questioned him, “Career means choosing a field?” “I did not get your question. My parents have sent me here to decide, which field of career should I choose? It is useless talking to them. My dad has a construction business. He wishes that I should join his business and take admission for Civil Engineering. But I am not interested in the construction line. I want to hold a degree in linguistics. We have lot of conflicts related to this subject. They heard your lecture in a Rotary program and sent me to you. But this would not solve the problem. To mention the truth, it is better that you inform them about this. Perhaps they may listen to you. “Requested Nikhil.
“But to know what are you confused about, don’t you think it is it is necessary to understand and know, what is career all about?” I questioned him.
Nikhil was silent for a moment and replied, “Career means taking education of the subject of your interest and picking up a job or developing business in that field. Is career different than this? Once you pick up a job, the remaining things automatically follow. To add, I am not serious about getting married. I do not want to be permanently committed with the bond of marriage. I just want to live my life like a free bird. The advantage of being a free bird is you are not bonded or attached to any one. If you are attached, your growth stunts. I cannot be emotional. I am very practical. I already told you, I want to do my graduation in Linguistics because, it has a lot of variety and I can also do photography course side by side. I do photography for models even today. Many girls approach me for making their portfolios. My parents do not like this. My mother behaves rudely with the girls who come to me. I cannot understand her behavior. But once a girl smoked the same cigar that I puffed and extinguished it there itself. My mother caught her doing this. She was shocked with both these incidences. But what could I do. My mother is aware that I smoke, but she has never seen me smoking. After that incidence, she has gone wild at me. She feels every girl that comes to me shares my cigarette and I too smoke with her. I have left the topic there itself”. Nikhil was still continuing his talks but his words “free bird” took me back to my college days.
I had spent almost two years of my college and was quiet seasoned to the routine. Our gang enjoyed everything. The second year was 12th standard. We continued with the fun. But there was not a single day, when I did not think about “her”. I used to struggle to see “her”. Our annual function was nearing and so were the exams. The atmosphere in the college was solid. We just had celebrated different days in the college. During Diwali, many dressed up in colorful dresses and attended the college. One day “She” wore a saree and I had a sleepless night. I felt I should not have vacations. I could not see her due to vacations, and so my day used to be depressed. I was eager to have my college started. As soon as the college began, I started looking for “her”. But “she” could not be found. I was restless. I searched for “her” everywhere in the college. I could not see her almost for a week. My mind was full of absurd thoughts about her. What could have gone wrong? Has “she” changed her college? Her father’s job is transferable and may be he his transferred and “she” has left from Pune? Is “she” unwell? Is “she” seriously ill or met with an accident and the most dangerous thought, was is “she” married? The thought of her marriage made me crazy. I lost my senses. I started listening to the sad songs from Hindi movies. Shammi Kapoor’s song, “Dil ke zaroke mein tuzko bithakar” was almost by heart to me. I lost my mood. My twelfth studies were no where. I could not sleep. All this resulted in falling ill. The medicines from the family doctor could not cure me. Finally, my mother took me to a physician. But his consulting was far off from my house. So I went with my mother in an auto. Actually, I did not wish to go. I was always visualizing her face in front of my eyes. I also continued day dreaming. She has come to know that I am ill and has come to see me. She has got apples. She is forcing me to eat them. Just an arrival of hers has made me feel better. She is feeding me with the apples … the auto halted and my dream ended. I reached the consulting on the first floor. I was waiting in the waiting room, looking here and there and found “her”. I was shocked; she had come with her mother. After looking at her mother, I realized that her mother was ill and “she” was here for her mother. Even under those circumstances I looked at her and suddenly, I was surprised. “She” smiled looking at me. I somehow smiled. I was shocked once more. My mother was talking to her. They knew each other since long time. I was amazed, my joy knew no bounds. “She” too talked with my mother. She also talked to me, when she came to know about my illness. I was no more ill now. My fever suddenly went off. Then I asked her, if she missed her college as her mother was not well and she too replied the same. It was there turn to see the doctor and they went in and came out. “Her” mother chitchatted with my mother. I also talked to “her”. Then she said, “let us meet in the college”. Sky was the limit for my happiness now. I forgot my fever. Then we really met in the college, talked to each other and once went for a cup of coffee. Everyone in the gang came to know about this. They were all jealous and I was happy.
After our 12th exam we met at Darshan. However we used to meet often. But today was her birthday. After lot of thinking and planning I had got a gift for her. She liked the gift. We were hypnotized with each other, when she held my hand in her hand. I totally lost my existence. I failed to do anything. She kissed my hand. I could not believe myself. I was really in the heaven. We were together till graduation. After graduation I proposed her on her birthday. She was full of shame. But later she said, she does not want to be committed to anyone and wants to live a life of a free bird. “
The words “I want to be a free bird” had toured me back to my past. Nikhil continued talking. I paid attention to him and listened to him. He focused more on his girl friends rather than career. This was very obvious for his age. He was a photographer for his models too. He was surrounded by multiple girls who wished to make a career in modeling. He always wanted a new girl friend. He was constantly engrossed in new girl friend, new thrill and new excitement. He had no time to focus on his career. Many of our sessions were on relations and breakups. He was seriously involved in only one girl, and she herself had given him a breakup. To mention the truth, he was really restless. Because of this breakup, he was now on the threshold of his career. Initially he did not agree to this. But later he realized it. He could not discuss this matter with his parents. He was calmed to a certain extent when he could distinguish between the romance associated with physical attraction, love, love affairs, friendship and love. We could then discuss about career and education. He also understood that Career and education should not be inter mingled with each other and it is necessary to be educated first and then begin with a career. After this Nikhil was mentally stable and our sessions discontinued.
But Nikhil’s sessions compelled me to look back to my past. I relived the old memories, and the old romantic days. The magical 3 years with “her” are still as refreshing as they were. I was shocked by the statement, she made that” I want to live a life of a free bird” when I proposed her. But she was making fun of me. Our days passed by happily. There was no pre-marriage-counseling in those days. So we were thinking about our future in our own ways. We were dreaming. We were visualizing different colorful incidences. Those three years of our college life and the next two years, we were happy as days passed by. Everything was decided. Our families were aware of all and they agreed to it. But when we were happily dreaming, all our dreams were shattered due to that accident. “She” and her parents had been to Anjirla beach near Konkan. They did not realize that they were far off from the beach and too deep in the waters. They were all pulled in to the sea. The people on the beach shouted for help, but there were no life guards. The local people tried their best to search them, but it was all in vain. Their bodies were found the following day by the Police at a different place. This news was like a thunder lightening for me. All of us were under tremendous shock. I was totally shattered. I could not control myself. It was a natural breakup for me. Even today I can feel the pain. I looked for myself in Nikhil, when he had a breakup. It took two years for me to be normal. Today, as a professional psychologist, I handle multiple cases of such types. My self experience helps me a lot. In spite of all this, I still remember “her” face. It was an incident when I was in the zeal of my youth, a life-threatening breakup. Really, what “she” said was true. “I never want to be committed and bonded with a marriage knot. I want to live a free bird life” She really became a free bird but bonded me with her forever.