When I was very young, I was fond of singing and dancing, greatly inspired by Bollywood. I knew that some day when I grow up, my life would be what is shown in movies. Because that is how grown-ups live. Fascinated by the way they danced, sang and dressed in movies, I wanted to live that glamorous, romantic life. I was also fond of dressing up – colourful bangles, nail paints and shoes always attracted me. I am told stories of how I have thrown tantrums in fairs to tempt my parents to buy things for me. I remember a pair of bright pink coloured ballerinas, with a pretty bow on the side, purchased that way.
During college, my eyes slowly opened to realities of life but somewhere my fantasy world lived. I was waiting for life to turn into a dream that I have been fancying secretly. Someday, I envisioned, I will live in a stylish house, have a romantic life with my husband, travel to gorgeous locales, always be dressed to perfection and keep dancing as a hobby. I was condemned by elders for being obsessed with such ridiculous aims. ‘You are only bringing your own downfall by dreaming these silly dreams. Wake up!’. So, while I dared tell no one about my secretly desired life – that was glamorous, beautiful and happy, I was disappointed by how few people shared this kind of fantasy. People around me were practical, real and so grounded. They focused on their careers, friends and themselves. And me? I was lost in my dreamland. I was waiting for magic to happen.
I studied, got through colleges and good companies and stabilized my ‘career’ but all this while, I was not seen as someone serious and sincere because my fascination with my unreasonable dreams were continuously reprimanded. I forced myself to change – to look, at least be perceived, as serious, like everyone else who wants to study a decent degree, get a good job and earn. That perception never changed perhaps because my ‘seriousness’ showed in my actions. I would pick up Bombay Times from the bunch of newspapers, not Business times. I would watch My Best Friend’s Wedding not Forest Gump. I would read Sophie Kinsella, not Salman Rushdie.
Fast forward to my present life and I haven’t changed much. The world sees me as successful, independent, well-educated but I see myself as someone drifting between her dreams. Someone who wants little ‘insignificant’ things in life – those gorgeous Nine West shoes, that jhola bag, that long-lost song, learning the art of belly dancing, a dark chocolate pastry a day.
I do not believe in miracles any longer. But I prefer to keep myself away from nightmares.
Recently, I saw my close friends E and M discuss infinitely on art, movies, books, food and people to which I had nothing to contribute. I almost felt like a kid among grown-ups. A kid trying to appreciate grown-ups talk.
It makes me wonder if I am shallow. To be able to appreciate beautiful things only at the surface. And to appreciate cute, pretty things that are so insignificant to most adults. If this is the case, what would be my connecting point with the world? As an aspiring writer, what limits can I reach?
It’s not that I did not have the tools to be serious and learned. I had the exposure, intelligence and strength. I chose to focus on certain things and ignore the rest. Of course I have some creativity hidden somewhere despite Corporate life trying to kill it. Of course I have the strength to watch Girl with Dragon Tattoo. I do have the intelligence to understand William Dalrymple. I just choose not to. My decision to stay away from ‘truths of life’.
There is a reason behind it all. There is a reason why I watch movies without looking at its making, why I stay away from dark movies and only watch rom-coms, why I read light women oriented books, not historic literature, why I stay away from celebrity interviews, why I am always dancing inside my head and why I think dressing up is important. At least, I am not being a hypocrite by pretending to be ‘one of those’!
I know for sure, I will not start watching Oscar-winning movies just to become a feather of the same flock. After work, I will prefer watching slapstick funny Housefull and laugh alone rather than watch The Separation and sleep depressed and alone.
So, maybe, I am not shallow, after all.
Maybe I am yet to grow up. Maybe I search for innocent and clean joys of life. Maybe I choose to not to try and understand the complex, superior comings and goings. Maybe I stay away from anything that confuses or upsets me, thereby keeping life simple. Maybe there is just a thin wall separating gullible and shallow.