He looked at himself in the mirror and saw the same sight he did everyday. The same dull sky blue shirt with the same dark blue tie. The only thing different was the colour of his trousers, which were a shade darker than usual. His eyes caught a picture on the shelf of his bathroom. It was a picture of him as a child in a pilot's uniform with an arm slung across his brother's shoulders. What had happened to him? What had happened to the innocent and hopeful young man he once knew? He knew the answer to that already. He changed. He grew up.
He was a consultant in a renowned company. Not the most interesting job in town, but hey, it paid pretty well. That morning, while he was getting dressed to do the same thing he’d done for 15 years, he had a flashback.
A young boy around 8 years of age ran around on his parents’ front lawn flying a toy aeroplane. “MOM, DAD! When I grow up, I want to be like Buzz Lightyear and take to the skies. Every day is a new adventure. To infinity, and beyond!” He said these lines every day until he was 10; till his mother got into a car accident and passed away. His father didn’t take the loss of his wife well, and took out his grief and anger on his sons. He started to neglect them both. There wasn’t a single night that the boys didn’t spend hiding from their father’s wrath in their rooms. He’d come home in a bad mood, pull out a few bottles of scotch and get completely drunk by the end of the night.
Fast forward to his teenage years. He was 16 now and his Dad’s behaviour had only become worse. He was smaller than the other kids his age and was constantly bullied for it. He was a bright student, who most teachers thought had an amazing future ahead of him. But nobody knew about how different things were at home. He wore full sleeved clothes and an eye-patch to cover up the bruises his father gave him. Over time, his brother had become his only source of comfort but he had also started staying out late, getting into fights and drinking. When he confronted him about it, they had a colossal fight and were no longer on speaking terms; shortly after which his brother ran away from home.
When he was 17, he gave his SATs (which he aced, by the way) and got accepted into multiple Ivy League schools. He thought that the news would finally make his father notice him, but the second he told his father he wanted to get into training to be a pilot, his father told him to “Grow up and stop having delusions of ever being someone special”. He was made to attend business school and when he tried to protest, he was told to be a man and do what his father told him. So he did.
At that point, he’d lost the will to live. He completed the course his father signed him up for, graduated top of his class, got a job in his current company and kept getting promoted till he became a consultant. He earned a good salary and stayed in a huge apartment. But he wasn’t happy. His father soon died of cancer and he hadn’t spoken to his older brother in years. He was a lonely man, living the life somebody else chose for him. He still thought of quitting his job and doing what he loved, but he figured it was too late now. He wouldn’t make it even if he tried.
All of a sudden, his alarm went off and it jerked him back to reality.
He was staring at himself in the mirror getting ready for work. He always hoped that one day, he’d be able to escape the cycle he was trapped in. He shook himself out of his delusion. There was nothing he could do about it now. All he could do was give up, and move on. After taking one last look at himself, he straightened his tie, and went to work.
Author: Nandini Patil