Buy yourself a bike
Or a car, in your capacity, of course. Observe what it does to you. It opens your mind, makes you free. You develop a new mental model of – I feel like looking at HnM socks right now, or raw mangoes, so I must. A mental model of freedom. Of let’s see where this road goes. Of not thinking of plans consequence-first. It is not comparable to having Uber, a boyfriend, a friend who has a vehicle. Nothing says ‘I don’t know where I want to go, I just know I want to go somewhere.’
It helps you take your little desires seriously, it is important to go see your cat right now, to go just look at trees on the road you like, to bathe an extra 10 minutes because you feel like it. It makes you so much of your own person. Take it from me: Five years ago, when I was depressed and found it hard to do anything, I started living with a boy I loved. He helped me get out of bed, got me food at the pillow when I could not, he drove me to and from therapy, to see lights and fairs. I was thankful.
One day, I thought of driving myself to college and on the way, I would pick grapes for the boy. I reached the main road outside his building when a few vehicles passed me. I shivered inside. I didn’t remember it being so tough. A few meters ahead, a truck went from close to me. I stopped my bike, turned back, and cried in the bed. I had forgotten to drive. Yesterday, the Bluedart delivery boy called me because he could not find my home in the wrong area, maybe he could deliver it tomorrow. I drove 6 km to fetch my parcel because I’d rather not wait one more day, but mostly because my brain allows me to want something right now. I got my courier. I was so happy, I took myself on a drive. A happy dance that would not suffices standing in a spot and shaking about, but needed me to move around the city, twist and turn and fly at times.
Cut your hair short.
And if the idea seems out of question, absurdly bonkers, more so. It might be scary. What if you don’t look good? Maybe do it to get over the need to look good? It’s heavier than you give it credit for, this need. Like that tiny 25 kgs dumbbell that refuses to budge. And when you realize how you look is not a variable, not of your hair at least, we will call it a good day.
Your family won’t approve. Most of the time, it’s hard to tell how much of societies’ participation you are carrying in the side pocket of the thought you are thinking. Maybe you like it because people appreciate it, maybe you are just a rebel. Society norms our unconscious choices. I have always thought of my hair as I think of my shirts. As important as it. Or less, shirts, when ripped, don’t grow back. Which essentially means, I will not die in absence of it.
Take it from me: I had waist-long hair in school. 8 months ago, I cut my hair short, asymmetric. Non-deal. When I went home, though, my relatives seemed very offended. Some demanded explanation. Many angry jokes and abuses were hurled till I teared up. Worst of which debatably was ‘this looks like a result of a drunk manic attack’. Not to mention the pulling of hair to make a point. 2 months ago, I cut my hair shorter, symmetric. It’s the best thing I did for myself considering the temperature and the rising prices of shampoo. Considering, otherwise, I would never find out how much authority the world demands over my life choices which are as inconsequential, as vestigial as hair, as fixable as it. I realized how much autonomy I am granted. To make my own choices. Or mistakes if they are.
This gave me is perspective. To how much and what to think of when choosing a bike, a jar, a partner. An idea of how much mental energy I invest on things dispensable, redundant. How absurd to be deeply attached to a shoelace, a pot, strands on my head. But mostly, it gave me the joy of detachment. The joy of detachment is calm. The kind you feel at a beach around sunset. Let’s give it to Buddha, he wasn’t talking about nothing when he talked about detachment and its perks.
How many times do I stop myself – from telling my sister to put her phone away, from telling papa to not talk to mummy like that, from telling mum to not eat like that? I carry at the tip of my tongue. Along with ‘don’t be scared of cockroaches’ for my roommate. To demonstrate somehow to her the possible unscared to be felt. To shake people and tell them how big and fit you are for Darwin to have had enough faith in you to get all the way here. You know what getting here, through all the sunshine, mangoes, earthworm dissections, balcony conversations, don’t wear that’s, can I borrow your earrings, taught me? That we are so vast and deep it is very hard to understand us, them. To try to untangle and put in straight lines, almost impossible.
Take it from me: 3 years ago, at a game of poker at home with cousins, in summer, playing as families must, my sister lost all her fake money and borrowed some from my cousin with a promise of returning when she wins next. She put all the money down, played blind, and lost. I, in a bout of disgust, wondered how someone can risk someone else’s belongings so casually. I might have given her a lecture before I was told to mind my own business. A few days ago, I saw her lending her cat to someone, so she could give them happiness.
We somehow make our loved ones’ us. Try to make them benefit from our thought, our experiences. Maybe undo the hurt, the suffering of learning through experience, through them. I assume it is safe now to say that I have seen also through all these nights, curtain shoppings, phone screen crackings, grocery list making, that people change. But only when it comes to them to. When it comes, you put the left-over food in the fridge, open the door for the maid in the morning, even wash your water bottle. Maybe one day, the idea of folding your blanket even though you will need it again tonight’ will also make sense. But it has to come to you. And I believe it changes the texture of your love, the way you give, and the way you feel giving it when you learn to not untangle people. Because they cannot be. So, if I may preach, because preach you only tough tasks, I will tell you to learn to let your loved ones be.