It was the day of our second wedding anniversary. I was all alone in the house. An unnerving silence pervaded the environment. Time seemed to tick slower than a snail slithering towards its destination. When the doorbell did not ring till five in the evening, I assumed it to be another research packed day of my scientist husband. With his teeming research accomplishments, the prefix of Dr. was added to his name. But he remained Mr. Iyer for me. It was an indubitably bright day. The sun did not seem to have any let up in its plans of scorching Singapore. Any hectic day of my Mr. Iyer leaves me all alone to sip on my evening tea. I seemingly resigned to the same fate that day. I peeped through the balcony for the last time to discover any signs of his impending arrival. Alas Mr. Iyer wasn’t to be seen anywhere. I made my masala chai, served it to myself with the utmost disinterest and placed myself comfortably in the sofa.
I was barely through the third sip of tea when the doorbell rang. The sudden clanging had jolted me and I almost burnt my tongue on the hot tea. Lo and behold, there stood Mr. Iyer, holding a bunch of orchids and a gift, all covered in a gleaming wrapper. Growing age can never hinder the excitement of getting something special from a loved one and I was ecstatic to say the least. Sitting snugly inside the gift box was the latest version of a smartphone, a model with some hundred new features and blah blah. I was overjoyed, as it not only had become a necessity with my speeding work but was also my long cherished desire to flaunt one. I was busy soaking in all the hip features of the phone and soon my eyes fell on my existing ‘not so smart phone’. Once upon a time, I desired for that one the most but now, the desire died a pitiful death. My eyes remained firmly fixed on my old mobile phone but my mind strode through my past memoirs.
Years ago, while playing artless games on the mossy old terrace of our ancestral house, I was enraptured by the aeroplanes playing hide and seek with the clouds. Those planes were captivating enough to give birth to my DESIRE to fly. Time flew and I grew, not only physically but financially as well. I fly very often these days, all the while trying my hardest to balance work and family life. I sit there well-groomed, tight lipped, and cross legged, without betraying the slightest hint of emotion when crossing the boundaries of several countries at a height where dominant clouds barely leave some transient patches of land to gaze upon. During my initial journeys, fascination was at the pinnacle when I saw myself amidst that heavenly splendour. While gazing through the window pane, I created a thousand fictional figures on those meaningless white puffs. However, with every journey I made, those imaginary figures slowly faded into oblivion. The delight in dealing with the stratosphere diminished with every flight. Those stymied quilt of clouds, which once enthralled my eyes, failed to stir my visuals anymore. Flying had become a compulsion for a fast commute. My DESIRE to fly seemed to perish. My long cherished dream to be amidst the wind succumbed to the more mundane aspect of necessity.
Travelling by public transport in India is an experience by itself. One is subjected to a babble of human voices, a miasma of articulated human emotions accompanied by a myriad of facial expressions. Some thrive in it while people like me DESIRE for a less obtrusive travel environment. Destiny, amazingly, played its part as a mind reader. After my marriage with Mr. Iyer, I relocated to the small dot in Straits of Malacca, Singapore. Here I perceived people welcoming technology as a God in disguise. A country, which exemplifies public transport to the truest sense, redefined the very meaning of being in public. Humans here were so obsessed with their smartphones, Tablet PCs and whatnot. I began to wonder if the inanimate emotionless conglomeration of software had become their better halves. Humans here in Singapore, hardly look at each other, let alone display emotions publicly. I never found anybody talking to one another. My experiences in Singapore’s public transport have always been the same. People with their heads bowed down, eyes fixated on the mobile screen and fingers swiping as fast as chanting with a rosary. Public transport always shouldered a sombre solemn look of a funeral wake. I began to yearn for some chaos in this monotonous surrounding. The desire of being in an unobtrusive environ too got vaporized.
My childhood began and was nurtured in a locality of only four houses, where each one was looked upon more like a family member. We flocked together in fun and consoled each other in times of sorrow. Togetherness was the theme of that time. There were times when I demanded my parents’ undivided attention but their precious time was divided on entertaining the guests for the day. I found people were placed on a pedestal of being privileged enough to intrude into anybody’s life. I began to DESIRE for some privacy in life. The wheel of time spun and I found myself in a place and time where solitude had become the sole slogan. I hardly know the names of my neighbours, let alone getting to know them on a personal basis. Friends became just a mere number on various social networking sites. Years back, my heart and soul disowned the opinionated public. Today, public opinions on my status messages and photos are bread and butter of being recognized. In that old street where my ancestral house still stands, there are ten new houses now. People do drop by occasionally but there is no vivacity during the conversations. They smile at each other but the smile remains perfunctory and lackadaisical. They visit each other in difficult times but just as a societal norm. I found the dearth of a personal touch in a bourgeoning impersonal world and thus my desire for seclusion was soon put to rest.
During the days when media was restricted to print and a single news channel doled out bland facts in a monotone, my restless mind sought and craved for a peppy and spicy broadcast. These days, one can find the media barking on every small issue, to the extent of writing a puff piece editorial on a dog crossing the front yard. Channels increased in number but the creativity was restricted to banal rabble. Every soap opera revolves around the same plot but none of them titillate my thoughts. Watching television is no more on the list of my desirable tasks.
In those fleeting seconds I spent transfixed on my old phone, I revisited the pages of my past, relived many leaflets of my desires and ultimately questioned myself. Are desires mortal? Be it an enchanting attire in a showroom or a newly invented technology; everything was momentary. Every new thing killed the existing one. However, I soon realized it was the true fact of life. Quashing the old to herald the new is the path of advancement. We dream, we fulfil and then we dream again. Something new, something unachievable in the present time, grabs us by the collar, shakes us from the reverie and then we strive hard to accomplish it. If one asks me about the lifespan of desires, I would say it is unquantifiable. The faster we attain a desire, the shorter becomes its lifespan. DESIRES ARE MORTAL. Let them be mortal. Let them die and attain rebirth from the ashes like a phoenix. After all, MORTAL DESIRES OF HUMANS IS THE NAISSANCE OF THE RENAISSANCE OF HUMAN CIVILIZATION.