Ten years


[This has turned out a strangely self-indulgent post, one suited more to a private diary than an online journal. I set out to write, on our tenth anniversary of arriving in Germany, an account of these last ten years here, but what got written, almost unconsciously, was a different score, cryptic and inward-looking.]

When we arrived there was no life plan. The move to Germany seemed like an interesting opportunity, although I do not remember trying to express – or even think about – why this was so. It may have been the allure of a new place, something exotic and unfamiliar. The little I had seen of Germany on a couple of previous trips had appealed. At a deeper level there must have been, although I wasn’t aware of it, the realization that I was doing what my father had done almost thirty years previously: take up a “foreign assignment”. But the similarities end there; I had it much easier. I was simply riding on a wave of Indian emigration westward; his move, in the early Seventies, was an exception. My destination was an advanced Western nation that provided a host of benefits; his was to a town in a small West African nation. I travelled with my wife; he had mother next to him and me, a six month old baby, in his arms.

He lived there four years before returning, with mother and a more talkative version of me, to India. I have stayed ten, and although I know I will return, a date eludes me. He looks back at those years as the happiest in his life – the relaxed and carefree attitude of youth was, during those years, not yet burdened by the ambition he acquired later, at middle-age, and, going by his stories from that period, he had lived well, lived fully. My ten years here have been wonderful, and sometimes I wonder if I do not wish to let go and return, only to reminisce, like him, at this phase as the happiest in my life.

There is more to it than returning. Like him, I find a steadily growing discontent within that I cannot put a finger on – is it, I ask myself, the same ambition that crept into him and made him leave his job and embark, in the end not very successfully, on a path where he could be his own master? It would be foolish to assume a link between our destinies – such a link, if it exists, can only be explored in retrospect, or within the borders of fiction – but I’m beginning to see a pattern in our intent, a texture that reveals common threads of rebelliousness, ambition and, perhaps foolishly, a belief that one person can make a difference.

In my younger years, when I saw his independent ventures fail and his pride wounded and all the financial difficulties and emotional turmoil this brought upon us, I used to wonder why he hadn’t stuck to his nine-to-five job, why he had thrown away his secure position and ventured into the unknown. Surely we all would have led a more stable and comfortable life, and there would have been none of those money problems. Now, in my late thirties, I know better. I find myself at a similar, if not identical, intersection. There is a growing murmur of restlessness, a voice that questions the meaning of continuing along the path I am now on, a voice that asks if I shouldn’t be taking that next approaching exit. Where that exit leads to I do not know, but take it I must, the voice says. If not this one, then the next. But there won’t be many more.

It is an affliction caused by opportunity, ambition and self-belief. Opportunity that tempts, ambition that instills desire, and self-belief that gets you started. And once in its grasp, it is impossible to break free. Experiences of others may guide and suggest, but cannot dissuade or substitute. I need to find my own answers.

This, then, is what ten years of stability, comfort and sameness have wrought. There still is no life plan, only a vague notion of things to explore. For the next ten years.

3 thoughts on “Ten years

  1. This essay answers some questions I’d wondered about, but asks more than it answers. You’ve made many of us care about you, so even though this seems inward-looking, many of us want you to find the next step on your path and for you to tell us about it. It’s never easy. But sitting still is even harder, when the voice urging you onward has begun to speak.

  2. Strange that i am reading this just when i am beginning to feel very restless. Its also strangely calming to know that i am not the only one looking still for answers and living without a lifeplan 🙂

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