We stepped outside and it was pouring. One of those unconventional off-season rains. They usually don’t last that long in Delhi but this one had no intentions to disappoint. She didn’t mind stepping out in the rain because as soon as she did, a man appeared out of thin air and covered her with a giant umbrella, getting soaked himself. He then gestured to someone down the road. There was no one to be seen. Bright lights emanating from a car came on and it sped towards us. The man then opened the door for her and stood there till she was seated comfortably. I was reasonably wet and wondered if i should step inside the car and ruin the expensive interiors. While i was contemplating this decision, the umbrella man had reached my side and was holding the door open. I guess i had to get inside now. My fate was sealed and like many other things in my life, i no longer had any control over it.
Life is such in many ways. I read somewhere that we control less than 10% of our own lives. everything else is controlled by forces and circumstances beyond our control. We might like to think we have better control over how our life goes on but sadly we don’t. it is the illusion of choice. Yes we make decisions but our choices are already laid out. It is between this and that. We are already dealt a hand. It depends on us that we either “hit” or “hold”. And that’s how it is really. Like a game of blackjack. your fate is sealed. The cards are shuffled and lined up. What happens then is a total mystery to everyone including the one holding these cards. Soon everyone will find out as time goes by but all we have is an illusion of control. We think we are doing what we want to do and making choices freely but we aren’t if you look closely.
We don’t control where we are born. Which family we are born into and which country we belong to. The difference between me and a person in war-torn Syria is mere coincidence. He was dealt that hand and i had this. That could’ve easily been me and vice versa. We don’t even control our name. Yes, you can have it changed officially later in life but i’m talking about the name you are born with. You don’t choose your siblings, you don’t choose your relatives, you don’t choose your house, you don’t choose your school. As the years go by, you start to gain some control over your life. Like for instance you choose your friends. You choose who you love. But whether that love blossoms into something more depends entirely on the other person feeling the same way. You can’t choose who you get to be with. You must both choose each other and only then can something happen. After a while you choose your college, your job, your new house, your pet. In some countries some people can’t even pick their spouses. The parents do the needful and the children quietly oblige.
We can’t wear swimming trunks on a cold day and you can’t wear an overcoat on a warm day. That choice is already made for you. So now you get to pick among warm clothes for a cold day and a selection of cotton clothes on a warm day. While you do have a little choice in the matter, the bigger picture is pretty much decided for you. For instance it is my choice to write these words. I am in full control. I can just as easily be doing anything else in the world right now but this is what i am choosing to do at this instance. But a few hours from now, my body will need sleep and that choice has been made for me. I have no say in the matter. It must be done or i suffer the consequences. Like i can buy the fastest car on the planet. But the speed at which i am allowed to drive does not depend on me. It depends on the traffic, it depends on the roads, it depends on the time of the day. What we have is an illusion of choice. We are all going towards where we have to be and nowhere else barring a few minor changes here and there.
I could have run away at that moment and I’d be lying if i said it didn’t cross my mind. I had that choice. I was aware of that. I knew I had to just turn around and walk away from all of this. But the second the car door opened and I saw the vacant seat, I knew what would happen next. My body and mind had made that choice for me. I was no longer in control. I brushed off a little bit of water from my clothes under the protection of the giant umbrella that was hovering over me now. I stepped inside and the door was closed behind me. I looked at her and the bright glow from her cellphone screen lit her face as if basking in the moonlight. Her cherry red lips were like an island of refuge in a sea of tranquility. Her eyelashes marked the territory of an oasis that existed in her eyes, designed to quench your thirst and drown you while you drink its waters. I followed every contour of her face, tracing it from its genesis, following a never-ending loop.
She turned and looked me straight in the eyes. I stumbled internally and tried to change my expression to look more stern. As if none of this bothered me. Without looking away, she pressed a button on the ceiling and a motorised partition raised up and isolated us from the driver and the umbrella man. She put her phone away. The moonlight was gone. The rain continued to be ruthless.
“So..” She said gently brushing aside a lose strand of hair dangling uninvitedly, “Where were we?”
My fate was sealed.