[Short Story]”Things we do” ( Part 3)

“Overrated place !” Dhruv mumbled as he took a bite into the last piece of pork. Dhruv has always prioritized perfection and his independence in life. His disappointment with the place and the imperfectly cooked food was evident in his face. Perhaps these uncanny combination of seeking both excellence and freedom made him the confused person he is today. When young, he would struggle to choose the best flavour of soda or the best flavour of ice cream. He took his freedom to choose seriously but he often ended up with the wrong choice. He would mourn when faced with the consequences of his bad decisions but never realized he always had the option to change his choices. He didn’t choose chocolate when he could , now he hates vanilla.

Unlike Dhruv, Kabir believes freedom is like opium. Once you taste it, you crave for more. Soon it turns into a desperate obsession and all commitments turn into strings pulling back your freedom , your freewill. But you won’t realize until it’s too late; this is the danger. Because you are not sober, you are in a high of intoxicating liberty – free of all restraint.  When you fall to your senses you realize all that was wrong, but then it will be too late. You would have lost all the strings of commitment that held your stability, your backbone; enabling you to stand up straight and face the cruel world.

Kabir , I guess was the most emotionally matured among us and Dhruv, most emotionally fickle. I remember Kabir explaining relationships through French philosopher Rousseau’s General Will theory. We were basking in school lawns when Kabir narrated his strange hypothesis. Dhruv had shushed him then as ” stupid psycho” but now in retrospect Kabir makes absolute sense. Kabir believes when two individuals fall in love , they take an imaginary sacred vow. In this arrangement, they give up their ‘actual will’ – will of each individual; the irrational, self confined, self centred will – for sake of  ‘general will’. Lovers volunterly agree to lose a part of their freedom , a commitment. This is in return for the trust of love and affection, a compromise to not hurt each other. “Stupid and absurd” Those were Dhruv’s comment on Kabir’s hypothesis. It took me two breakups- my own and Dhruv’s – to understand what Kabir meant. Though absurd to some extent, it was unreasonablely true most of the time. When either lover hesitates to give up a part of their own freedom or infringes into the freedom of the other, relationships begin to tremble. Dhruv treasured his independence even at the cost of losing Shweta.

Dhruv had met Shweta in college and soon in a blink of an eye they fell for each other. Their lives were smooth untill they stepped into different paths after college. Dhruv went on to become a banker and Shweta continued with academics. The long distance was not merely physical but soon hijacked their mind, especially Dhruv. Dhruv was ambitious, wanted to achieve excellence and seek the freedom to explore opportunities in life. He placed his career and goals above his love, relationship, family and friends. For him the end justified the means. Shweta on the contrary loved Dhruv more than herself. She believed pursuing goals without the companion of a loved one was not worth the effort. She had a wider and larger view of life. For her the means, the path was as significant as the end itself. She was ready to compromise her freedom to fuel blood into their relation. She sacrificed her offer from Princeton to stay in India, to be with Dhruv. She was brave. Dhruv felt guilt about this. He couldn’t have done this for her, he can’t love her the way she does. He took to thinking himself as a really bad person. He was stuck in the dilemma of choosing his independence and freedom versus his commitment to their relationship. Soon the relationship turned into a burden for Dhruv. He felt selfish to seek his own freedom in life and not love her as she does. He felt, she deserved to be loved by someone better. Dhruv broke up with Shweta but in reality he broke up with his life. Things started to fall apart for Dhruv, the high of an independent free life was diminishing with the growing loneliness. The opium of personal freedom was receding. Dhruv did realize at the end, but it was too late then. Shweta was married and went on to settle in London. The freedom to choose was always in his hand but he chose the wrong path.  Was it Dhruv’s fault? It was not. It was a conspiracy of circumstances. But he was at fault when he didn’t try enough. He didn’t try to resolve. He chose the easy way. He decided to escape , he decided to break up.

“Thanks guys! It was a nice day.” said Kabir . Dhruv was silent,  he was lost in thoughts and then abruptly spoke “Did you meet  her after the break up? “

“No, She doesn’t want to” I replied.

“Did you two talk after that day?” Kabir wanted to know.

“I don’t know what to talk about”

“Do you see a future with her?” Kabir asked.

” Yes”  I replied instantly.

“Will you be happy being with her?” Kabir asked again.

“Without a doubt, yes! “

” Will she be happy with you? ” Dhruv intervened.

“I don’t know”

“Now you know what to talk about with her” And with those words Dhruv was lost in his thoughts again, gazing out of the window. An optimistic silence prevailed inside the car. I had understood the reasons for things we do. Problems and life walk together, inseparable. They are the greatest indissoluble romantic couple. We are merely living the manifestation of their  romance. Today our lives are as messed up as it was yesterday but what has changed is our motivation , our courage to fight them. Now we have hope.



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