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The Evolution of a Legacy

September 26, 2009

I’ve always been meaning to write post after post for my blog, but somehow or the other it just keeps slipping out of my mind. I never have the time to sit down and write what I want to. This post will perhaps do justice to everything I ever wanted to write about since a long time ago.

I don’t know how it happened, but it just seems to me like my life was put on fast-forward. I don’t have any time to actually sit down and do something I want to. Everything, and I mean everything, has been rushed for the past four years.

Every day I dream of going back in time. To the very moment I was born. To re live those days once again. I would die for it. This post is going to be really disorganized and cluttered with memories of my past, and nothing else. My memory is something I never really could understand. Whether it is a blessing or a curse, I’ll never know.

Throughout my life, I was fascinated by many many things. Every phase of my life saw me lose the obsession I had over something that kept me going. Cartoons and video games. The Internet and pro wrestling. Probably the four things that still hold their place on a once populated list.

I was brought up in a way like none other. My parents gave me every freedom possible, and I am grateful for that. You could even say that they spoilt me too much. Irrespective of what way you look at it, I am what I am today because of how I was brought up.

I was playing on Atari home consoles when I wasn’t even able to walk or talk. I’m exaggerating a bit, cause sitting on my cousins’ laps when they played doesn’t really count. But I had the exposure. Maybe that’s what put the passion inside me.

By the age of two, I began to sit and watch TV whenever it was on. I’d watch just about anything. Back then, I used to live in Mandaveli. My grandma was bedridden, and her house was a few streets away. My mom and aunts would only take care of her. So I used to shuttle between both houses daily. My grandma’s house had the VCR and the computer (my very first) while my house had a cable connection. So, at home, I watched Cartoon Network and every Tamil mega serial that aired and at my grandma’s I saw rented movies with my cousins.

Two and a quarter was when my mom decided I was too mischievous to stay indoors. February 3rd, 1993. I joined PS Senior Secondary School. Admission number 7252. I’ll come to that later.

I realize now how drastically I have changed in life. As a kid, I was very attached to my family. I used to long for company. I always wanted a sibling. Even though that wish was never fulfilled, I had cousins. A lot of them. Whenever any of my uncles or aunts visited, I would make sure they stayed at least for two days. Hell, I used to hide their slippers so that they wouldn’t leave. I’ve thrown those slippers into the water tank, the chimney and all. Of the plenty of cousins I have, four of them really shaped my life.

Sindhu and Suman were the first two.

Every year was clearly divided into two for me. The first half, when I was home for majority of the days, sitting and watching Cartoon Network, and going to school. The second half, during my vacation, was spent completely at my grandma’s with Suman and Sindhu.

They would visit Madras every time they had their vacations. I actually used to eat a lot then. Cakes and buns from the bakery outside my street. Ice creams from Arun Ice creams, at least thrice per day. And how much ever chocolate I could eat and not get bored of, from the seemingly endless stash I had thanks to relatives living in the US. I used to fight a lot with Sindhu, for no reason at all, while I looked up to Suman like a mentor. We rented video tapes from a store called PicPac daily. In the afternoons, Suman would watch a cartoon with me, and in the evenings, the whole family would watch a Tamil movie, while after I slept, late into the night, Suman and Sindhu would watch English movies.

I began watching Tamil movies with them after a mean trick. Only five year old mini me would’ve believed that Michael Madana Kama Rajan was the Tamil remake of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I got my first Internet connection then. My aunt was showing the three of us how to use Netscape Navigator and google stuff. I wanted to read about cartoons. Sindhu wanted to read about Princess Diana. I still have not forgotten that because she got her wish because she was older.

In 1997, it was decided that we would move to Adyar, where we would live on the first floor while my grandmother would live in the ground floor with my aunt. This was done so that she could be taken better care of. I was dead against the move. I had too many fond memories of my childhood there and I was unwilling to move away from it. Ironically, the only person who shared the same feeling was my grandmother, seeing she spent decades there raising her children up. The move was never substantiated, because hardly a year later, my grandma fell terribly ill. She got her last wish fulfilled; to come back to Mandaveli. She was admitted and died in the very same BSS hospital which was opposite to the street she lived in.

That one year was one of my hardest. Getting adjusted to a new life in Adyar. Far far away from the place I used to call home. My time on the TV and computer rose exponentially. The only other thing that remained was school. I had demanded my parents not to change my school. Even back in my first standard, my mom wanted to put me in CV. I attended the interview or whatever it was, and told the principal that I did not want to leave my school whatsoever.

By then, Suman and Sindhu were in their senior years in school. So that was the last time I saw them for a couple of years. During our vacation, we went to Singapore. I remember staying up till 3 AM to watch a cartoon that had stopped airing in India when we had a flight to catch at 6 AM. I bought my first ever Pokemon card deck there. Life was changing.

I didn’t feel the absence of Sindhu and Suman in my life because of the other two cousins who shaped my life. Vinoth and Ramya. I spent most of my later childhood with them. We played video games like crazy. I learnt to be street smart from them. I learnt how to play cards from them. I learnt Dumb C from them. I learnt Madras Tamil from them. Beat that. Every single Diwali I can remember, I spent it with them.

Till 1999, I was a very very quiet boy in school. The opposite of what I was at home. I kept to myself. I barely spoke. I just sat in school, took in everything that was taught and everything that happened around me and came back. I was very weak and sickly. I missed most of my school classes because of various diseases. I hadn’t written entire exams. I used to be a REALLY adamant kid when I was young, and the only way to get me to eat medicine was to bribe me. The sheer number of GI Joes and He-Man action figures I have is a testimony to the number of times I’ve fallen ill.

But 2000 was the dawning of a new millennium for me. My health was improving, after finding the cause of my weakness. I was under medication to remove a bacteria in my throat that was sucking my immunity. I had also changed sections because I chose Sanskrit over Tamil as my second language.

7th June 2000 was when I stepped into 5D. I don’t want to start talking about school in detail here. School is something that deserves a post of its own here. If I start talking about it, this post won’t end, so I’ll summarize bits and pieces wherever necessary. In short, I had people I could call friends for the first time, and began to enjoy school a lot more than I already did.

I spent the summer of 2001 in the US. A lot of things happened there. I realized what high-speed Internet was. I finished reading the entire Asterix & Obelix and Adventures of Tintin collection at my uncle’s. I saw a cartoon that I would soon begin to obsess over; DragonBallZ. I came back with a cable modem and had broadband installed at home.

This changed my life more than anything else. I used this new found Internet to browse through Wikipedia. To collect information. I started downloading cartoons, movies and video games like crazy. My experiences with the computer advanced. From learning how to use PKZIP in DOS at the age of seven, I had now reached a stage where I could make the maximum use of an aged Pentium MMX 133 MHz processor with 32 MB Ram.

The next few years went really quick. It was this time when Sindhu left for the US. She stayed for a long time with us in Madras when she prepared for her TOEFL and GRE. Videotapes had become outdated. We rented VCDs and saw every Tamil movie that released during that period. After Sindhu, Suman also left for the US.

2003 was not a very good year for me. I had just begun watching WWE, something I mentioned earlier, during the beginning of this post. After barely six months, the CAS system came into existence, and the TV became virtually worthless to me. My parents had always gotten me whatever I had asked for. The only thing they had denied me was a video game console, but they had a valid reason of addiction. The Set Top Box was next. I was no longer in middle school. Exams became more and more important. My parents refused to get a Set Top Box fearing that I would not concentrate on my studies. How very wrong they were.

I still think that the loss of TV in 2003 was the last straw for me. It affected me in a mental level that has left me permanently scarred. I began sitting in front of the computer full time now that TV was of little significance. The exams in my 8th std. were the worst I had ever performed. My mom decided to put me in tuitions at the end of 8th.

My school life in 9th and 10th were perhaps the best. I finally had some motivation to study, after years of vettiness. My only motivation was to get into the first list of the now non-existent list system. I worked a bit in school and worked harder in my tuitions and more than that, had fun while doing so. I was the thirteenth person in my class on the first list. By this time, both Suman and Sindhu were studying in the US, Vinoth was working and Ramya got married and moved to the UK.

The cousins who were all more than ten years elder to me were not there for me anymore. But, a new set of cousins were there, only ten years younger. But it would never be the same, would it?

2006 was probably the worst year of my life. And trust me when I say it’s the worst, even when I got that damned Set Top Box in that very year. I began losing my mind. I had a lot of confidence in my friends that they would get into IIT, and for the sole reason that I wanted all of us to end up together in college, I went for IIT classes as well. They took quite a toll on my health, both physical and mental. My body is not built to withstand travel. And, I was never a person who could work hard. I decided to quit the classes. School became hell. I became disinterested in everything.

Why? I didn’t have people around me. My cousins weren’t there for me. My friends weren’t there for me, but I can’t blame them because they were busy preparing to become mindless drones and try their luck at entering into IIT. My parents were not there for me, and our relationship was straining further because of religious issues. I became so out of hand that I even threw away my poonal. I made a lot of bad decisions then.

2007 was a complete reverse. I had changed, yet again. Sure, my passion for cartoons or video games or the Internet or even WWE for that matter was not what it used to be. But now I had something that I had never had before. Hope. Strange things, which I will not explain in detail for the sole fact that people will not believe it and scoff at it, instilled a hope in me that led me to believe in a new realm known as metaphysics. Metaphysics meant that every crazy theory or dream I had over the past 16 years had a chance of turning out to be real. I fueled myself with this new found hope.

From being a silent nobody for 14 years, I made myself known to the entire school in one final year. I lived my dream. I wanted to accomplish something for my school, in return for being my home for those 15 years and I did my part. The tuitions helped, for I had now made a large social circle for myself consisting of people from other schools. It wasn’t an easy task, but becoming the editor of my school newsletter and help organize the farewell party helped. By this time, I had settled in Adyar very well, partly due to the tuitions, because I had friends there. But the farewell brought back memories of my past. Sivakumar sir tells me where to get the cake and ice creams. The very same bakery and the Arun ice creams shop where I used to eat when I was little. Was it pure coincidence? I’ll never know. Four months later, I had achieved my goal. I was the culsec. I did whatever I could for my school. I had cemented my legacy.

And now, two years later, I write this post. Every now and then, the ray of hope seems to flicker. College has severely reduced my level of tolerance. Although I am confident I will not revert back to my fully insane self, I am scared that a little bit of madness might try to show itself. I have come a long way from then. Having lost all four of the passions I once had, I’m living on only one now. My love for competition and culturals. One which stemmed out of the Dumb C I used to play as a kid. It has helped me fulfill childish desires. The PS2 I was denied as a child, I bought with the first timeĀ  I won cash at a cultural festival. Hope has a way of renewing itself, I learnt.

Prakash Raj says in Anniyan, that he always holds back his tears and doesn’t cry, because when you cry, you lose the anger and your focus. I don’t know when I will cry. I hope that hope will keep me going for the next two and a half years, or at least help me hang on until I find something else to keep me going.

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