When I was 19, my idea of a successful career was to earn thrice as much as my age. I didn’t fare well on this criterion though, I barely made 15,000 rupees a month till my 21st birthday. Having said that, I had zero responsibilities and a five-figure salary was enough to have a good time every weekend. Especially on people’s birthdays, free booze & drinks. Ofcourse!
When I was 21, all my friends were already half way through their postgraduate degree. The only person left was my best friend; incidentally he was the reason why I applied for a job immediately after my Computer Science degree rather than approaching different colleges for two more years of torture and pain in the classrooms. Ironically, he applied for an MBA degree as well. I was left alone. Not literally, but you know what I mean.
At this point I did exactly what any sensible guy would do, I quit my job and bought the admission forms for the same college where he had applied. Two months of hardcore preparations followed & I was ready to ace the entrance exam. But as everything else in my life, there was a twist to this story as well. Yes, it was my father who brought this twist, along with some ice cream. This was probably the first ‘talk’ that we had. After a lengthy heart to heart, I was left with one question and one advice: “Where do you see yourself after twenty years?” | “Life is simple, do not complicate it.”
I answered the question by not attending the entrance exam & taking another two months to figure out what I really wanted to be in my life once I am old and wrinkly. I kept it simple and answers poured in with immediate effect. I didn’t have the precise answer but I did get a good idea of my future.
I figured that I wasn’t meant for a 9-5 job. I wasn’t meant to follow instructions. I wasn’t meant to work for people who didn’t value my potential. I wasn’t meant to be someone else!
At 22, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. A reputed company offered me a job at 6000 rupees per month. I took it. I learned the tricks of the trade from the best in the business, I learned marketing from a genius, I learned client servicing from a master and I learned to value money from a Sindhi!
At 23, I quit. I quit being an employee. I quit being a small fish in the ocean. I bought myself a small pond and became its Lochness Monster. All this was possible because I knew that there was enough business for everyone. No exceptions.
I became greedy. I became selfish. I valued people based on their social status & bank balance. I had a set definition for the ugly, face or personality. Money mattered more than people’s feelings and their expectations.
250+ ‘friends’ attended my 24th birthday. Everyone I could think of was there. I was happy and I was drunk. Infact, I was stoned beyond recognition. When everything settled early in the morning, I found only 5 people around me, my best friends from college. Yes, they were still there, helping me back on my feet and carrying me home. Everyone else had left. Everyone else had a great time at the party but didn’t give a shit about me!
I didn’t go to my office for couple of weeks post my birthday. I didn’t feel like meeting anyone. I didn’t want to meet anyone. I just wanted some peace. Unfortunately, I thought women, drugs & alcohol would help. Wrong choice. Wrong fucking choice!!
Thankfully, common sense prevailed and I gave away my pond to the newest shark in town. I finally changed my laptop’s wallpaper, which for few years had read, “It’s better to burn out than fade away”. I didn’t want to fade away but I was too young to burn out.
What followed was four years of bliss. I traveled. I met each & every member in my extended family. I met strangers. I striped myself of every pleasure I bought with money. And I did everything I had missed out on because of studies and later, work. More importantly, I was keeping it simple!
At 28, my bank balance hit rock bottom. I was happy in life but I was broke! So, I dug myself another pond. Back in business, back to the usual rat race. The only difference was that I didn’t lust for materialistic things anymore. I was in love with life and everything that made it beautiful.
Today, at 29, I am happy. I am not content with life, but I am happy. I have a wonderful family & excellent bunch of friends. Hell, I even have a dog. More importantly, I finally have the answer to my father’s question. In twenty years from now, I’ll be dead if I don’t live today!