Written by Nandini Sethi
“Would you look at the time?” I said to myself. I was in a rush, scrambling to get everything in order – knot my tie, comb my hair, and polish my shoes, all while looking for the keys of my car.
Fumbling, I adjusted the seat, cranked up the air conditioner, and put my head back for a minute. One long, deep sigh later, I pulled the hand break and started the long drive to my friend’s place. It was her birthday, and like every year since we were 5, I was late this year too.
Despite the rush, I couldn’t deny how beautiful the drive was. The roads were smooth, and the music just right, all calm and peaceful. That was until I reached the main road and became one among the hundred cars to be stuck at the signal. And in just a single second, the solitude became suffocating.
Everywhere people were honking, cursing, suddenly braking. I let my eyes close for a second. I could almost draw the connection between the chaotic traffic and my life: they both urged in me a sense of anticipation.
Suddenly, I remembered all the work I had pending. I had endless files to go through and Excel charts to edit. Then I thought about my wife. She was beautiful and intelligent, but she nagged me endlessly and even though I don’t like to admit it, I have thought about divorcing her a few times. Not that I would actually go through with it. Because then came the kids. Would co-parenting even work? There were endless financial troubles at home, but I was sick of the 9-5.
Soon we have to get them married. My daughters will want a grand wedding, at a palace and nothing less. I must ensure it all goes smoothly – the wedding, catering, reception, and the list goes on.
Grandkids. They come next. They will probably be the support I need during my retirement days. It’s not going to be easy. I will have to retire from a company I have dedicated all my time to, and now just like that, I’m not a corporate slave anymore.
What will I do? Pursue hobbies and interests? But I don’t have any. I hate cooking, I’m basically tone-deaf so no instruments for me, and I hate squirmy, wiggly things, so gardening is out of the question. Oh my god, I make the worst old man ever!
I hope when I’m in the hospital for a broken hip, unnecessarily cooped up in a room for a week, my kids and grandkids will be there to hold my hand and sing me to sleep. Just like I did for them. If they don’t, I will personally visit them, no matter where they are in the world, and give them an earful about respecting elders. I know I am not that loving, laid-back-type grandparent.
I hear a blaring honk. It’s so loud that I flinch. I open my eyes wide and see the sky; the sun is already setting! Why, God, why? When will you instill in me a sense of discipline?
I shake my head to clear my thoughts. Wife, money, career, kids, grandkids – they are all in the future anyway. For now, I check the time on my flip phone, 6:00 PM on a Saturday in 1995. I still have plenty of life to live before all of that. I crank up the Spice Girls song playing on the radio. For now, I think I should focus on the assignment due at 11:59 tonight.