[This was difficult to write. Choosing to do so was not a lightly made decision.]
One of the first plays I had read in French was Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (En attendant Godot). I remember reading it, in the dim light of my grandmother’s bedroom, and idly wondering if all my life would be spent so, bleakly repeating day after day, hoping that some clean break, some Godot, would come through. I could see myself in Vladimir and Estragon, telling each other that Godot would come.
Godot did come. I had given up hope by then, that anything would change. I felt it best to align my life with those closest to me in chosen career and dared hope for nothing more. There was only today.
I was living my todays, one after the other, listening to Bowie, and thinking of Kalman Filters when bounded Godot into my life. Godot was plagued by bright dreams and inaction, and I could hardly fathom how he had come to be where he was. Godot was privileged by birth and gender, and by other factors.
The bounding Godot did me good. I began wondering if things might change. I began daring to dream a bit beyond the constraints I was hemmed in by. Things changed, but not in a way I had hoped for. Everything went to hell in a hand basket, I lived off credit cards and love, I loathed family more than I had until then, and I ended up being equipped with enough tales of misery to be the protagonist in a Hugo novel.
On dark nights, I despised Godot and I despised myself for having waited for Godot. My fellow grunts in academia had moved on to the next year of their graduate studies. I was teetering over an abyss and everything that could go wrong had gone wrong.
Godot was a rather careful player, I discovered, beneath all the bright plans and carefree grins. He was also as dedicated and persevering as man can be. We hauled my life back onto its rails.
It is tempting to give him all the credit. I don’t think it is fair though. Many of my plans that would have ensured my continuation in academia had been changed because of Godot. Even before Godot, when my life had been off the rails (and it has been ever so often), I had managed to get back to normality with personal effort. I don’t think I am indebted to Godot for what he did to put my life back on track. I think I should give Godot the credit for something that’s likely to stick far longer – for having shown me what I could do. I hadn’t believed before that I could.
Why didn’t I believe that I could? I think the past has taken a toll on me. I have had to fight for every fucking thing in my life. It shows, in the way I speak, and react, and behave, and weigh my options. It shows in how little I expect fairness from others, and how surprised I am when they are fairer than expected. The first time I had walked the bleakness, my greatest fear was that it would repeat. The hyacinth spoke about Robert Bruce, and wove a cocoon that was a thousand kisses deep. Life shattered that, and I walked the bleakness again and again, and had been by then convinced that it would repeat.
“Clawed your way back,” is a rather evocative description. I will remember that. I have qualms with putting it that way myself. I did not return the same, after all. I left full of doubts and despair. I did not return the same way. For that, I have to thank Godot.
Before Godot: I had lived. I had waited for a break, for Godot, but I had lived. I think it is one of the things I have done right – having lived as well as I could, given what I was handed. I hadn’t wished for knights or fairy godmothers. I had gone on, regardless of the family and the society. I have seen more disappointment, more unfairness, and more poverty than almost all the peers I know. On many levels, my life is still harder than that of most of my peers, not through my choices as much as through what was handed to me. I don’t know if I’ll be able to improve my lot given the hand dealt out to me.
My interactions with most people are difficult often, because life experiences are wildly different. It is not easy to identify with those who worry about higher-level concerns, when on your plate are matters to do with daily bread and a roof over your head. I find myself frustrated when I am dealing with those who care about conforming. I find myself frustrated when I am dealing with those who care about not conforming. I’ve rarely had the time to make a choice either way, and instead usually lived by instinct. It is not easy to identify with the sexual experiences or family experiences of my peers very well, because the flavours I have lived (and lived with) are very different from the norm.
It wasn’t easy. It isn’t easy. I don’t know if it will be not as difficult as the years ago by. All of that makes me glad that Godot bounded in, larger than life, singing of grand dreams and little care. You tend to like your Godot more if you’ve waited a long while.
I ended an interesting experience yesterday. I might miss the few good men I had come to know there. I find that I am glad to have left, not because of what was lacking there, but because of what I miss. They were sad to see me leave.
I spoke to Shwetha last week. We spoke of this and that. I realised, pleasantly, that for the first time in a long while that I was not frightened to tell her about those little dreams that I dare dream now, even if it is something as simple as returning to the kind of work I love. I realised that I was not wary of saying that I was good at some things (I had been afraid, for the longest time, that saying something of the sort was a guarantee for a jinx on my already jinxed life for the next six months).
There are things that even Godot can’t solve. It is difficult for me to dream of what-nexts when the weight of the past is still heavy, when I’m afraid that I’ll be back on Boogie Street tomorrow. At least, I comfort myself, now that I know there exists Godot, it might be all a tad easier.