I am 38 years old now, which means I have lived for 13,879 days. When you breakdown years into days, it seems rather long, doesn’t it 🙂
For at least half the number of days that I’ve walked this planet, I have had a habit of going through each day and all that has transpired, in my mind, every night before going to bed. I think I started this habit when I was in my early 20s. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said, that every night as I would go through the day’s events in my mind, I would find at least five things I could’ve done differently. That, of course, is looking at stuff in hindsight and seeing what could’ve been done better. It’s more of a learning process. It’s about becoming aware of the consequences of your choices.
Regret, however, is another animal all together. Being regretful about something, generally means you’re super contrite or sorry because you either did something or did not do it. I have many regrets, big and small, but two of my regrets are so intense and deep, that it gnaws at my conscious, and makes me hurt even after more than a decade. Deciding that these two were my biggest regrets didn’t come easily to me. I had to do a lot of soul searching and had to acknowledge certain aspects of myself that I am not proud of. What I can say without a shadow of doubt, is that, I have evolved as a person, and would like to believe I am not who I used to be a decade ago.
Those who know me well, know that the number one person in my life was and still is my paternal grandmother, though she is no more with us. I’ve loved her, and love her to bits, even today. She and I had the most beautiful relationship. I had moved away from home and didn’t meet her often, yet I’d call her to share everything with her. I remember having really long phone conversations with her. We’d talk about the new love interests in my life, my bad days at work, the ugly arguments with my mother, my fears, my dreams, and my hopes. She’d also tell me a lot of stuff that was going on at her end, stuff that she didn’t normally discuss with anyone else.
We were very close, and I knew that she missed me, because she’d literally sulk about how I didn’t go to visit her often enough. I missed her too. I’d bought my first apartment in Bangalore, and I wanted her to come and live with me for a while. I wanted to take her on her first flight, I wanted to do so many things for her, and with her. I had this long list and was waiting for the right time, but the right time didn’t come.
It was the year 2005. I remember, I was supposed to go and meet my Grandmother in the beginning of November during Diwali, but decided to postpone my trip to Mumbai, and instead, go at the time of her Birthday in December because I wanted to celebrate her special day with her. My Grandmother was really upset that I postponed my trip. More than once she said, “Who knows whether I’ll be around for my Birthday.”, and I would argue with her whenever she said that. I bought my tickets, I even bought her a gift almost a month before her Birthday.
My birthday is on November 15th, and she’d called to wish me. Even then, she asked me to come and meet her as soon as possible, and I told her, I would be there in less than a month. We talked again on the 26th of November and I was all excited. I told her that it less than 20 days I would be seeing her, and that my tickets were booked, and I’d already bought her a present, and I couldn’t wait to see her, to which, she said, “Who knows if I’ll still be there…” and I literally reprimanded her for saying such a thing. I was attending a friend’s wedding in Belgaum that weekend. I was back in Bangalore early morning on November 28th, and in the afternoon, I got a call from my cousin telling me that our Grandmother had a severe heart attack and the chances of her recovering from it were nil, so I should come to Mumbai immediately.
I was in a state of shock. How could this even be possible, because we’d just spoken two days ago and she seemed fine. I flew to Mumbai and went straight from the airport to the hospital to meet my Grandmother. She looked so old and frail in that hospital bed, she just didn’t look like the tall and strong matriarch of the family that I’d always seen her as. We talked for a bit that night, then I met her the next morning too. I spent most of my time in the hospital along with the rest of my family, and she passed away on November 29th. I think I was in a state of shock for a long time, because I was consoling others, and doing stuff, but I didn’t cry like one should at the death of a loved one, for almost a month after her death.
I came back home to Bangalore on the 1st of December and was all alone at home because my mother was Mumbai. My friends were supportive, they would hang around with me as much as they could. My Grandmother’s birthday came and went, and I felt a gaping hole in my heart. I returned the present I had bought for her and got something else instead, so that I wouldn’t be reminded that she was gone before I could give it to her on her birthday.
On Christmas day, almost 25 days after she died, I was sitting all alone in my apartment, and that’s when it hit me hard, that I was never going to see her again, and that I was never going to be able to wish her a Happy Christmas. I was never going to hear the warmth in voice or feel her love in her embrace ever again. I was never going to be able to ask for her forgiveness for every time I let her down, or tell her how much she meant to me. And that’s when I felt a very deep and intense sense of loss and regret; I almost couldn’t breathe. I bawled like a crazy person and cursed myself for not giving my Grandmother the time and attention she deserved. I hated myself for not taking out the time to meet her when she kept asking me to come and see her. I had put my work, my life and other mundane things before the person I loved the most, and it was then, that I realised how skewed my priorities were.
That day, on Christmas, in 2005, I promised myself, I would never wait to tell someone that I loved them, I would never wait to meet someone I cared for or put them after my work and other priorities, because there are no guarantees in life. One never knows, when it’s going to be the last time you talk to a loved one or tell them how much they fill your life with joy and love, or hug them and feel enveloped in the warmth of their love for you. And family always, always comes first, no matter what!
2006 was quite a tough year for me. I had lost my Grandmother at the end of the previous year, and I was in a long distance relationship with a Techie based out of the States, who had a tendency of blowing hot or cold towards me depending on his work load or the drama going on in his life at the time, so I called off the relationship. And I was sad and lonely.
It was then, that I bumped into a doctor who’d given up medicine to pursue his dream of becoming a musician. This individual shared my love for music, poetry and long conversations and above all, within a very short time he won me over with his very big heart and beautiful gestures of care and concern. We would be talking all night long on the phone, he would sing for me to cheer me up if I’d had a bad day, or would write me a poem or a song to make me feel special. He never called me by my name, it was either princess or precious. He always made me feel like I was worthy of the attention and affection he gave me.
I’d shared all the unpleasant details about my life with him, and it didn’t make a difference to him at all. His kindness, compassion and empathy were unmatched. There was not a single pretentious bone in his body. He was a struggling artist, and had no qualms about it. I still remember, he would save up money to buy me presents, write me letters and make mixed CDs for me.
He once said the sweetest thing ever, “Precious, you that the first person I wake up to each morning, and last voice I hear before I go to bed. And, now that I have you, I know that everything’s going to be fine.” I basked in all the attention he gave me and very soon, there came a day, he told me that he loved me, and I was pretty pleased. I’d had my fair share of relationships, but no one had ever made me feel so special or loved.
I reveled in the attention he showered on me, but eventually, as I got to know him better, and I understood just how humble he was and how simple he wanted his life to be, I chickened out, and did so in the most heartless way possible. Slowly I began to have problems with everything about him, his sense of dressing, the fact that he didn’t care about his appearance, or that he was broke, so on and so forth.
I worried about the most inconsequential things like, how I would ever introduce him to my friends or colleagues because he wouldn’t fit in my world. I worried about the shallowest things one could think of, and I slowly, but surely, started to distance myself from him, until I broke his heart. Even after I acted like a complete bitch, he wrote me the most beautiful letter ever to say goodbye.
Today, almost eleven years later, I still haven’t found anyone could love me as purely and intensely as this musician did, and many a times – especially when I’m lonely and blue – I regret letting my shallowness come in the way of experiencing the joys of pure and true love.
I won’t state the obvious by spelling out the lessons I learnt, because they’re all too apparent. All I will say is… if someone loves you for who you are and not what you do, or what you can give him/her, and loves you despite your fallacies, and isn’t trying to change you to fit into their mould of who they think you should be, don’t let the person go without at least giving him/her a fair shot, because nothing compares to unconditional acceptance and love.
Writing these two really big regrets of my life has left me exhausted in more ways than one. I am going to sign off now, and will be back soon enough. Stay tuned for the next BIG talk question to myself. Question #4 – What was the defining moment of my life and what impact did it leave on me?