I hear the sharp bell toll as I stride ahead along with several others that evening. For some what might have been a race to win, was a chance for me to shine in the eyes of my parents. Clouds lit the rink in grey and the weathered tiles reflected the tone with harmony.
The breeze felt cold on my legs but that could not stop me that evening from shining. Not long did it take for the others to outrun me and for me to blame the rusted tires of my heavy skates.
“They have them better”, is how we both consoled ourselves. My parents had strived to provide me the best they could, but only the best they could. We define the best in all our ways, but the rink and wheels don’t discriminate. He pat me on my shoulder as we laugh it off because the wheels were at fault.
The test laid heavy on our shoulders today, evidently more on the shoulders that pat me after the race. So much that he decided to buy the best of the wheels before the next race that very evening. The hustle he finally did to support his son minutes before the next race, made him feel like he’s doing his part and I felt like I was about to be the next best thing in the world of wheels.
Ecstasy, stirred and a tint of hope was finally served as the toddler was about to fly his legs on the next toll of the bell. I stand in the queue behind the line of start, as I glance across the wheels everyone had there. “They have them old”, is how I brave myself as I was about to make my parents proud again.
The father believed he did his best and nevertheless he really did. The bell tolls sharp once again as I stride my leg forward in a rhythm as if I was trying to strum a chord to sound in scale.
Six years hence from that evening I sit with a bunch of metal-heads, trying to zone into their group with the brand new guitar I just purchased. Chasing an intangible something with materialistic ways was one innocently flawed part of my life.
Having a sincere knowledge of music and a natural hand at instruments made it rather quick for me to catch up and be a part of the cool music band though. Soon I was the topic of discussion in the little world I knew within the school. Much obsessed with what I had in hand, in-turn made me better at playing it.
Practising the guitar being the first thing I did everyday after returning home made me invest a significant amount time and effort into it. Guess the innocence was not flawed anymore. A gig presented itself to me soon after and it was going to be the biggest event of my life. I ran up the shining stage to the other band mates and glanced over my shoulder on the vast dark crowd.
Sure it was overwhelming but tonight was the night to feel the strings under my palms. The cheers roared loud as I strum the first chord with an accurate scale in time. The song stuck to me and I could feel the waves of beats through the drums behind.
The vocals were having fun and I was in the corner, under the bright lit halo with the fret in my hands as the crowd faded away in my delusions. I was there, with my heart, the song, and the brand new guitar over my neck.
It's funny how a memory can kindle your thoughts to spiral down to contradictions and accords. In those moments where the brave hearted took the first stride on new wheels, and the young energy strummed to harmonies on the stage, both the versions of my subtle past were present in that moment, pouring their hearts out into doing something they believed in, and tried to carve some meaning out of the world they knew of.
Too oblivious of the fact that the moments we cherish in the present become a memory of the past to dwell upon. As if it was happening again to both of my younger selves, I watch them now in past to have left doing what they loved.
The bell that tolled that evening had me running ahead of everyone at the start. I believed in the wheels in that moment until the first turn, when everyone else had picked up the pace too fast for me to catch on to.
Soon I was again the last runner in the rink, striding to reach the finish line as my parents decided that it’s finally time that we give up the idea of sports before it consumes my academics. ‘We’, gave up the idea. Not so long after that gig that the little elder past of myself decided to maybe take off the guitar strap off the shoulders once and for all owing to the haunting responsibilities of the oblivion future that were beginning to weigh heavier. ‘I’, gave up for the academics. The only contrast was that the unaware was made to leave it, and the aware left it willingly.
It so happens, probably in the lives of each one of us, that something somewhere is lost amongst us while we focus on the important of the present. Which extends to parts of us as human beings, parts of ourselves that we leave behind, for better or worse, knowingly or otherwise, and makes us look back at them in a distant future with a constant question in our minds, “Was it worth it?”.
The incessant circle of the trying to guess, of what could’ve been if we held onto a part of us, rather than letting it go. The unknowing is rather what keeps us alive and gives a breath to our decisions. But a question still lingers, that when and where do we cap the halting of doing what we love to make room for doing what we should.
Where do we realise that the part of us which was born to enjoy the process of our loved activity, profession, sport, or anything for that matter, has passed. Should we be the one’s to decide to put down the guitar or should we be waiting to be told to keep aside the wheels by life itself.
Even if we do decide ourselves, isn’t that decision somewhere manipulated by life itself? When we decide to let go of a part of ourselves, a life within us is lost but a new is born.
The guitar showed up on the shoulders of the elder past of me because the wheels made room for it, and the cycle repeated. Life does boil down to letting go, just that not always we get to choose, and that’s okay.
That’s life. We get to be grateful for what we left behind, for those foregoings make us a better human in time. We all were made to let go of the wheels or we ourselves let the guitar straps unhook. For me, penning down words was something for which the room was made for, as I glance across the guitar on the wall, dusted.