Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Birthday of Loss

During our telephonic conversation today, A suddenly pointed out to me that when we were children, our grandmothers would give us fifty-one or a hundred-and-one rupees on every birthday, and as we would shyly take the money in our fingers, we would think how immense the sum was. But today fifty or hundred rupees is too little to even get us a decent pizza, let alone a proper lunch. He said how the cost of living had risen, and I pointed out how the value of money had lowered -- money being a microcosm for our entire value system. As I reluctantly turn twenty-four today, I mourn the loss of simplicity, innocence, values, the purity of love, and the uncomplicatedness of life. I don't want to sound lofty, but every day I regret the part of me that dissolves into the past, to be replaced by a more mature self that worries about bills, about keeping warm food on the table, about how the next book will arrive on the doorstep, and who will look after the elderly relative. Sometimes I wish I was young again, lying in green meadows with reckless abandon, and looking up at the blue sky with patches of white clouds -- luxuries which even as a lonely child growing up in the suburbs of North Bengal, I didn't have. Thanks to Anne, my imagination quite made up for it. Just as it is working overtime at this very instant, conjuring up images of scrumptious cakes and delightful wines in an imaginary homeland far away, that will remain ever elusive, and hence always starkly craved for.
After all, what is life, but a series of intermittently painful Sehnsucht?


  1. Please believe me, although you may not think it you are definitely, positively, still young, just capable of deep reflection. I like your equation of the cost of living as a microcosm of value system.

    Memory is like a train growing smaller as it rolls over the tracks of time.

    Sehnsucht is one of several German words which English does not have an adequate, equal expression for, thankfully.

  2. Thank you. Your image of memory is one of the most compelling ones I've ever read.
    Sehnsucht has so many different layers of meaning, it could never be conveyed in a single English word, and I'm glad about that. I think foreign languages protect us from a visceral emotional self-exposure. I feel that German is a mask which would de-emotionalise even an emotional statement that I may make, and hence I feel protected by the language.