Today was a train day. The van driver went to Galle to buy a new van, so on a Monday (those who know me also know that Mondays are the busiest days for me), I had to take the train to office and then back home. During the evening ride, I had my (not rare anymore) moment of realization.
I found my usual corner seat, so I wouldn’t be facing the sea but could turn around and see it, but I would still have the wind blowing through my hair. I took out Paper Towns and started reading. Then they got in. Now they were the people who I’m sure my friends and I were a few years ago. They made me realize 1) how ridiculous my friends and I may have sounded back then and 2) how much has changed since a few years ago.
They were three or four possibly teenage girls. They were giggling nonstop and kept making jokes. When my friends and I were growing up (not that we are grown up now, but during our mid-teens), we would giggle and laugh and live in our own world. We were completely oblivious to the rest of the world. None of that mattered. We had our jokes and we could laugh nonstop. That’s all that mattered.
And yet, today, my thoughts became a string of swear words. Not to insult music, but my thoughts started to sound like what people call a rap nowadays. And why was I annoyed and angry? Because they were annoying. Because they needed to shut up and behave. They should have been considerate about their fellow passengers.
While putting my book aside (because I can’t read when people around me chatter continuously), I realized that, dear lord, I was like these kids. Just four or five years ago. I’m just twenty one (And I turned twenty one just two months ago, so I haven’t even been twenty one for long) and I was behaving like an old maid. What happened to me? Where’s the stereotypical twenty one year old? I want to be that person. I should be that person. Right? At least for a while...
So here’s the thing, the sixteen year old me and the twenty one year old me are two totally different people. I doubt anyone who really knows me would ever think the sixteen year old me would have turned out to be who I am today. And this isn’t in a good way. (This post is starting to sound like something that should be on the personal blog, but that doesn’t matter.)
I used to be so positive. I had all this life in me. Sure, I had mood swings. But that was mostly when I was seventeen or eighteen. When I was fifteen or sixteen, I was happy. I saw the world as this huge place where I could be anything. Back then, I think, I kept shifting between wanting to be a lawyer or a journalist. Or maybe it was something else. I can’t remember.
But life was good. We had exams and whatnot, but none of that mattered. Exams still don’t matter but back then, I managed. I didn’t fail my classes. I had amazing friends. I had friends who were different but who were good people.
And now, those same friends are just too different. I doubt any of them will ever read this, but if you do, I love you guys, but it’s like I’m the friend’s friend who just never becomes part of the group. It’s as if that grade eleven Shailee has left, and her body has been taken over by this thing who isn’t even a person.
So love, liking people, boys, all of that will come under this category.
Back then, even two years ago, I had so much hope. I believed in the stupid notion that I’m a likable person. Yes, go on. Laugh. Laugh your heart out. But I actually had hope. I would see a boy I liked and think, ‘oh wow!’ and this reaction was laced with hope. I had male friends who I spoke to, boys I liked. I still can’t help laughing when I remember all the nicknames we gave boys and all the drama. The assumptions. The false beliefs.
And now. Now, I’m exhausted. I don’t play that game anymore. I don’t have an ounce of hope. I know that I’m not the kind of person who anyone can like. I know who I am.
When people ask me why I'm single, I tell them it's because I have no time. Most, if not all, seem to assume I don't have time for a relationship. The truth is, I don't have time for that game single people have to play. You flirt, talk, pay attention, know when to ready the snare, you wait for the fish to get hooked, for rat to get crushed in trap. I don't have time for any of those silly games anymore.
The funny thing is, back then, I would have laughed at the mere thought of marriage. Now, I do want that. I mayn’t have that life, but you know. Someday, hopefully.
Even back then, I gave very little importance to money. I would collect my pocket money, only to spend it all on food or books. That’s what I do now too. Except I spend my pay. I don’t get pocket money anymore.
But here’s the thing. The reason I had this dream of becoming a journalist is this one journalist I used to know. I wanted that life. He works for a foreign news agency, so earns a lot. He gets to travel a lot. And that’s the life I wanted. If you really look at it, I wanted to earn the money that would allow me to live the life of my dreams.
Now, I’ve been brought back to this world. People boast about their salaries, bonuses and the vehicle they drive. I have none of that. I’m nearly always broke. I rarely spend a lot. And that doesn’t make me unhappy. I’ve learnt something; you choose what makes you happy.
I love my job. I don’t mind the traveling, the exhaustion and how the job just follows me around. It’s not an eight to five job. I can’t leave work at office. I take it all with me wherever I go. But I love how I get to do what I want to do. My parents let me do what I love doing. They seem to be slowly accepting my choices. Not that they ever protested against my choices, but sometimes their dreams for me were hidden in the advice they gave me. But now, they seem to be realizing that my life should be about my dreams.
One of my nicknames in school was ‘chatterbox.’ I used to talk a lot. Now, people have to force me to talk. I’ve become so quiet. I could be in a room and people won’t even know I’m there. Not with all people, of course, but with most people. I just can’t get the words out of me the way I used to. I don’t know how or when that happened, but that’s who I am now. Quiet. Lost in thought.
But, loud and talkative when I feel like it.
I used to be so childish when it came to loss. I would cry. I was so possessive. As soon as my friend became my friend’s friend, I used to feel so angry and betrayed. I recently lost Athamma. I lost her to death. Or life. They are both the same. And the way I dealt with her death shocked me. I still have sudden moments of pain and fear, but in general, I’ve accepted it. Two or three years ago, I would have locked myself up in my own little world. I would have rejected reality.
I started blogging in 2009. Not many knew of that blog. Not many know about it even now. Before that, and even after, I maintained a diary. No one knew about these. Besides a single story I wrote in 2009, I never shared my writing with people. I didn’t have the confidence.
I still lack confidence to submit my poems (if you can call them that) for various sites or poetry collections and whatnot. But I do post them online. And some day (soon) I want to print them. I mayn’t be confident about what I write, but I’m happy about what I write. And I’m so glad I can write. Because if not, I don’t know who I’ll be. I don’t even want to think of a me who doesn’t love words.
There are many more things to write about. How I’ve changed, what I’ve become. But my hands ache (didn’t have this many aches and pains back then). I can’t decide if this is a happy post or a sad one until I’ve read it (I've read it, and decided it's neither. Things need not always be this or that. It can be bother). But either way, it’s the truth. And it feels good to be able to write about my life, because I’ve become a person who doesn’t talk to many people. I’ve become someone who would rather write about what she feels than talk to someone.