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To Life

I realized I was done. I spent the majority of my childhood doing mundane things, impressing people who forgot and living a sheltered life. This frustration doesn't arise from ingratitude but from unfulfillment. So many missed opportunities and lost memories. So, Mithoo and I set out to change this, one adventure at a time. 


It was a summer night, and my parents were at Nani's to care for her ailing health. Somehow, Nani and I never really formed a bond. Her old-age bitterness and negative outlook drained those around her, and eventually, herself. She is an unfortunate product of her time, and I don't blame her. 


Now the objective was simple, I would be home alone and Mithoo would come over in her dad's car, and we'd leave together for a ride around the city. At around 8:30, the doorbell rang and my heart pumped as I inched closer to the door. Mithoo yelled, "Surprise!!" and almost made me collapse. As a 19-year-old this was my first attempt at "fun" and it felt a little nerve-wracking. 


As we backed out of the driveway, I set Google Maps to this hill sightseeing spot, where we could admire the city lights. Mithoo told me she'd first take me to another place, but I told her I hated parties and clubs, and just then, she suddenly stopped at this animal shelter. She'd requested to take a dog beforehand, and the little guy hopped into my lap. Mars was this adorable brown puppy who couldn't contain his excitement, or his urge to pee, evidently. The guys at the shelter allowed us to take him for the night if we guaranteed his safe return. I'd never had pets and was ecstatic. 


Mars enjoyed craning his neck out the window as much as I did. We stopped at a drive-thru for takeout, and on our way out, my heart leapt out of my chest. My parents were eating in the restaurant. This place wasn't on the way to Nani's house, and they seemed to be happy. I never before realized they were a couple and not just my parents. Things had gotten exhausting with my preparatory exams, entrance tests and college applications, and this was a relieving break after a long time. They had supported me immensely, and now I felt a little guilty. But I'll let them have their night, and I'll enjoy mine.


The wonky car radio connected to only two stations and we chose to listen to the one playing old Hindi songs. Kishore Kumar was now the anthem for our teenage rebellion, and its melancholy made me feel a strange longing in the night. For the time that was slipping away, and for the new life I'd start elsewhere.

 

On reaching the hill, I clutched my giant Bajaj flashlight to my chest as we made our way to the top. The benches had dried flowers on them, and several tourists hunting for the perfect photo spot. We sat down, drinking our Colas and snacking, deeply mesmerized by the city lights. Mars lapped up his vanilla ice cream, and Mithoo got to talking. "Now that I'm moving out, this whole city feels like home." I related to her. Once your world becomes bigger, home simply becomes a matter of familiarity. I'd been waiting to reach this stage in my life, after all that toiling, but now my memories seem sweeter. Growing up entails letting go, and creating space for all the newer things in your life. If life does get better than this, I can't wait for it to happen. 


We drove back and said our goodbyes. Mars was happy to reunite with his buddies at the shelter. Mithoo and I embraced, but for some reason didn't cry. Maybe it hadn't sunk in, but we knew this was an expected goodbye. Time couldn't have prepared us for this, but would surely carry us in its arms to our fate. As my family and I sat down for breakfast the next day, we each reminisced last night. Our little adventures were a small way of congratulating ourself, and an ode to life.

 

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