Sometimes, when he looked back on the days he spent worrying, crying, stressing and fighting to make something out of his life, he is filled with awe at the innocence and courage he seems to have then possessed.
Now, when something untoward happens to him, before anything, the fear kicks in.
I suppose, the older you get, the more you learn about limits. The sky is no longer the limit. You start calculating risks. You start worrying about returns. You tell yourself, there are things that are no longer feasible because now, I am not 20 anymore.
For that was the secret behind the bravado of course.
When you first hit college, you are still starry eyed, with the determination and self-confidence only a teen can possess. You trust the universe to show you the way. You believe everything happens for a reason, and that reason is always good.
At 21, with no money, no degree and no job, when birthdays meant cheap Chinese lunches, and one had to save pocket money to buy a CD, he was more bullish on life than he had ever been. It was a heady feeling to believe he was meant for great things and he just couldn't possibly fail.
Now, he sometimes struggles to find faith. In himself, in others, in things - past, present and future. He feels afraid to try. He feel afraid to be angry. He doesn't stop to question what he is doing and why - whether it is merely designed to please others, or he is doing it for his own self.
And the funny thing is, technically, he is already way ahead of where he imagined he would get in his 20s. Although he still considers it a virtue to not take himself too seriously, he *seriously* wonders where the fun and the dreams and the hopes And how he let himself go so - dull? And practical? And set limits to everything?
He wandered around aimlessly for a while this evening. Walked the same road he has walked a million times before in his life. That road leads to a certain idol, with little shops and counters strewn around, where the same old flower-seller asks him with a smile "Dada bhalo achen toh?"
She was smiling at him, widely, mocking and consoling at the same time, when he reached Her. He stood there, wondering why he had been so reluctant - at some point on the brief walk, he had been dragging his feet as if he were being forced to confront something he'd rather not.
Reaching there, some of the pieces of the puzzle fell in place. He found himself muttering in a one-sided conversation.
That night, he hunted around in his old memories, for fragments of dreams once dreamt. Perhaps it was time to accept some of the things he couldn't control were not meant to be controlled at all. He hadn't meant to become what he was now - that was for sure. The pettyness, the worries, the conforming, the racing ahead ticking items off some crazy list - that was not really how he liked being.
It was time to accept he was still naive, and retreat to dream some impossible dreams again.