My mom always says that people come into our life when our karma, destiny, what-you-may-call-it, feels the need for that person to be there. So when I moved to a new place, the mad Mallu was there. And before him, the English girl who adopted India. And the star sozzled philosopher. And after them there was the bouncy boisterous lil boy. It's been a year, and they have either gone, or are about to go. And I know what mom will say if she knew how sad I were about them leaving - "Life goes on."
Yeah, life does go on. I’ve left behind friends and family in other places. On the rare occasions when we do meet, I just know for sure how crucial their advice and judgment has been in my life over the years. Not because I perhaps hero worship some of them a little bit, but simply because having them around means there’s someone saying to me, "It's ok, shit happens, we'll figure out how to fix it, let's go play in the sand till we do."
All of us cling to good memories, romanticizing them till they become "the best times ever". I guess that's a defense mechanism we use to gloss over the bad times, the bitter fights and the bouts of tears and heartbreak that come with any kind of bond you make with people. There's good stuff and crappy stuff. I've sat on the well clinging to Tyson-the-wall-walking dog trying to accept reality. I've accepted lizards in my room because at least they meant some kind of company. Ok fine, a little bit acceptance also happened my roomie, whoops, no ... 'flat mate', didn’t react to my hysterical screaming. But in retrospect, these are the memories that made me realize what was important. Fact remains - it doesn’t matter if you notice my hair only when you call me crazy. It doesn’t matter that you 'forgot' about me when making your plans. It doesn’t matter if what you said or did hurt me bad. You see, if the shit stuff didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have realized what was important. If I hadn't met you, I wouldn’t know what I was missing!
I am sitting in Ranchi today, just back from Bagaicha, where I began chasing Chotu. Walking into Bagaicha was a delight because I met this fella bum up, and even today, he was the first familiar thing as I was walking into Bagaicha. Bagaicha has been one of those "best time ever" memories stuck in my head because there began my crazy love-hate relationship with this chapter of my life. It's been a little over a year and this relationship has changed with time. Bagaicha brought on my obsession with adivasi people, their way of life, my anger against the despotic state, and one crazy tumultuous friendship with another 'Chotu' I will never forget.
I've chased this Chotu quite a bit too, not entirely sure why myself! It's been way too long and life has changed way too fast. Bagaicha & its memories have moved along. The adivasis are activists, still fighting, still battling the death of democracy in their state. Their fight has been backed up by technology and a little more law than they initially had access to, but it still is a thin shield barely holding up against the state supported juggernaut of various mining corporate bulldozing through the forests. I found that Chotu is more than a bouncy boisterous lil boy. He turned out to be a mature, professional, dedicated, hardworking, surprisingly intelligent, bouncy boisterous lil boy.
Who knows where we will be a year from today. Some of us may be in jail, some hunted down like criminals we are not. Some of us might be working big jobs in big companies, or living in poverty and dying out slowly but steadily because we don't matter in this system of big money. We might not see each other ever again and most probably won't have the need to speak with each other again. I know that the affection and importance I give all of this exists only because it has all changed the way I think. I know this affection is not mutual. I know most of these people have forgotten they ever met me, or will do so by the time this year is up. However, I write this today to acknowledge the impact they have made in my life, the moments of happiness they have given me, and the lessons I have learnt from them.
So, when I was sitting in the dirt behind the kitchen playing with Chotu the dog with Chotu the boy watching, it was one of those weird cosmic-type strange moments. And it felt so comfortable that it was beyond strange - the few best memories of Bagaicha, just like I played it over & over in my head every time I've thought of it… - with the miniature puppy squawking around as karmic evidence of the fact that life goes on.
And Chotu. It's been fun 'chasing' you. This is the last training we will be working on together. It’s karma I think that we’re back in Ranchi, where it all started. It’s been over a year of playing 'Good cop Bad cop'. One year of constant bickering. One year of french fries & home cooked chicken & dal fry & amoeba rotis & strawberry juice with chooch & red wine leading to drunken dancing with lots of dog-petting when travel tripping. My 'wonderful wife', no one made tea and served it as well as you did. No matter where you are, I hope there will be many pretty women chasing you … and when you're tired of those women, I hope you will always have many dogs around to make you smile.