I open the car door and see handsome, thirty-year-old me sobbing on the driver’s seat with his hands on the steering wheel.
My Younger self slowly turns to me and his expression changes into one of shock and disbelief.
“Yes, it is me. You after thirty-three years,” I tell him as he still keeps staring at me incredulously.
“Move over” I say to him. He shifts to the passenger seat deftly.
I get in and take the driver’s seat. Then we sit, side-by-side, sixty-three-year-old and thirty-year-old Mohans together.
We both stare through the windshield at the monsoon drizzle, our minds running a million miles a minute. Out the window, I can see the Prabha eye clinic to our left.
“She is never going to be able to see,” I tell the younger me. “But trust me. She’s very happy the way she is and so will you and Mamatha be in a few years.”
Tears roll down my thirty-year-old cheeks and my younger voice shakes.
“But why me? And not any of the twenty-two members of my extended family? I have never met a blind person in my life.”
I reply, “Because you are asking that question to yourself and God, and neither have anything to do with the answer.”
“Okay, Kiddo. Think what you want to think. You said to God, “Bring it on, try me”, and now you are saying, ‘Why me?’”
Younger Mohan wipes his eyes and doesn’t reply.
I rub his shoulders and continue “Without pain you will never grow. Understand Mona, bad events happen to serve a specific purpose. So don’t think that life is unfair because everything happens for a reason that only time will tell.” Younger me takes a deep breath and sighs.
“Can we please switch on the AC?” I ask Mohan sitting beside, me, who is ‘not even half the man’ that I am, not just in age.
“Are you crazy? It’s raining outside.”
“Kiddo, I just ran six kilometres in forty minutes. Trust me. You can’t outrun your older self. You are going to complete a forty-five kilometre trek in the Himalayas around a mountain called Mount Kailash at almost 19,000 feet altitude in under thirteen hours. In your early sixties. And you know what? You’re going to write a book about it.”
“I don’t believe you. Is Kailash even real? I don’t even know where it is.”
“You will know. You—we—never tell lies.”
“Well, knowing that I will be fit and healthy in my sixties is a relief. But what’s the point, only to see my blind spinster daughter holed up in my house?”
He starts to cry again. I squeeze his arm. “I promise that you will be happy and you know I never lie.”
He shakes his head.
“Listen,” I tell him. “You will have a lot of pain in your life. It is a blessing. Pain is a blessing that will harden and temper your heart. Know that it will serve a great purpose. You will go through difficult times but will learn to share your truth and use your story to help others to feel less alone in theirs. You will never waste your pain. Trust in yourself, trust in the Universe, and know that you can make it through anything.”
“Yeah, right. I trusted the Universe and see what he gave me. I was ready for a pinch of salt, not a ton.”
“That’s your mind talking. It wants to wallow in self-pity and guilt.”
“Yes. Guilt. Remember how one of your relatives told you yesterday that this happened because you were arrogant? His blame game went into your subconscious mind. You blame yourself for what’s happening to Yogita.”
“Who is Yogita?”
“That is what you are going to name your baby girl”
Tears well up again in his eyes.
“Hey, by the way,” I added, “Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ is kind of a reverential biography about Syd Barrette.”
He seems disinterested.
“Mona,” I go on, “your sense of humour is what keeps you strong during the tough times. Keep it up and keep it going. You have a magnificent life ahead of you. Remember this: You will—rather, we will—figure it out, survive and flourish. You will become an expert on ‘How to live on the run when your heart weighs a ton.’”
“But will happen to my baby when she grows?” younger Mohan asked.
“That I am not allowed to tell you. I can only say that all of you will be happy eventually. It is a happy ending for all.”
I open the car door and step back out into the rain.
“Bye,” younger Mohan says.
“P.S.,” I add, “When that Canadian pharmaceutical company chairman will want to visit your Arvee facility and meet up with you when you’re forty-nine, don’t say, ‘No, I don’t work on Sundays.’ Missing one Sunday tennis session will not matter as much as saying ‘no’ to a chairman of a billion-dollar company.”
“Bye” I tell him and walk away closing the car door behind me..