Just when India's economy had started on the path of globalization, I did not come directly to home from school one day. I was late by about one and a half hour, although my school was about fifteen minutes bicycle-ride away. Even in those days of low traffic and safer cities, my parents got worried and started a search for me with half the neighborhood joining them (I was a good kid, unlike now, else they'd have rented my room out, as Woody Allen's). I was not lost or kidnapped or held back... but in my regular comic-shop, selecting stickers and posters of Nagraj and Super Commando Dhruv. The store-owner had brought a new collection and I was trying to optimize my purchases with my meager means. Finally, I spent about 70 rupees, which was a royal sum for a class-five boy then, and perhaps, it even today is.
It was not just one off day however, when I was so engrossed in my super-heroes - it was all the days back then. I'd rent some comic and start reading on the walk from the shop itself. Often, I finished by the time I reached my street and immediately turned back to borrow another. I read comics on exam days and on vacations. I not merely finished them cover-to-cover but studied them thoroughly, collected paraphernalia, and often, dreamed of having the super-powers like them. I had the richest collection, knowledge, and even remembered the sequence of release of each comic-book by heart.
Then, one fine day - I gave it all away. Nothing happened. Yet, I stopped reading comics, I distributed my collection to two of my cousins, and even stopped thinking of all the super-powers I'd like to have. It was all over - I felt that I had reached a pinnacle, beyond which either nothing is left or perhaps, I'm not capable of traversing any farther.
It had happened the same way with kite-flying a few years earlier - I flew kites of each kind, at all times, on all days, and all nights. I spotted the lines, studied the threads, and learnt aerodynamics of kites. I collected different types of threads, collected amounts of kites, and even classified everything - on days without end. And then, one fine day - it all was over. There was a fulfillment. There was an emptiness. There was everything and there was nothing.
It happened with many other passions later on - cannot count or name them all... but in hindsight, I grew afraid of myself. If I follow something so passionately, nothing of it will remain some day. Suddenly, all of it will be gone. Or perhaps, Worse! It will be there with me and I will want no more of my passion! And why I am recounting this all over again? Because I am afraid of myself again. It is happening again.
I started bird-photography by chance - my sister gifted me a camera and there was nothing else to click from my room at IIMA but some trees and a lot of visiting birds. Whence I clicked them, there were questions. And then, I started studying birds and trees. It kept on for years with some time-demands but never as a major hindrance. But then, the fear of the tragedy of fear struck me - I've spent almost whole of last week in cataloging the birds and trees. Sitting for long hours at office or at home, trying to click one more bird, one more pose, standing in the lawns, collecting leaves and flowers, sifting through old folders, renaming files, recalling date and place of clicking, zeroing down on species and sex, seasonal variations, special habits, properties of trees.... I am getting mad again!!
And that is where the tragedy is - some day soon, I will leave it all - not because I may have achieved enough but because I am spent to traverse any farther. Perhaps, that is the way I am - loving truly, deeply, madly... and then, forgetting everything completely. Did that with my loves, did that with my love life, and now, I am doing it again... I am afraid of myself - truly, deeply, madly!!