Friday, August 21, 2009

Of Wallets and Bullets

I lost my wallet last Monday, the 17th.

More precisely, it was stolen from my person as I went to temple in the morning, it being the first day of the new year according to the Malayalam calendar.

It had nearly half my month's pay, driving license, identification card at the hospital, and my two ATM cards.

It hurt.

It hurt that I had lost the money, that I'd now have to go through the laborious process of getting another set of documents issued as well as preventing misuse of the original.

But what hurt most was the dent in self-image. The realization that some common crook could pinch it off me and I didn't even know it: That the apparently efficient and competent professional could be outwitted so completely by a professional of another kind. That hurt.

There was not much to do, retrieving a wallet lost in a sea of perhaps a thousand being what the old adage 'needle in a haystack' is exactly about.

'Hope' is a strong feeling. Sometimes, it is all that stands between man and madness. In such hope, for gaining a degree of apparent control over the situation if nothing else, for retrieving a bit of that lost self-esteem, we tend to do something – anything – that might be useful; often, in the face of overwhelming odds and reason that tells us otherwise.

So I go to the police station, report the theft, get a receipt for the same that says my driving license is stolen, and then – wait.

I need not have bothered.

But something did happen. Life went on. It was not as much of a catastrophe as I'd thought at first that it would turn out to be. It hurt still, the actual loss as well as the feeling of being outwitted, but fortunately – and this is important - there was no pressing engagement that I needed the money for.

There was a sense of Deja Vu, though. There have been other occasions too in my life, when something that I thought would hurt deeply, turned out to be not that bad to have happened, after all. It was the fearful anticipation that was harder to bear than the actual event when it happened.

The converse has been true too. Something one anticipates to be infinitely pleasing, turning out to be just one more good thing to have happened. Here I would remember how getting into Medical College turned out to be a mixed bag.

Then there were the times, those things that happened, that brought so much happiness that one could never have thought possible beforehand. Case in point my buying an old, second-hand Royal Enfield motorcycle that leaked oil from everywhere. Life has never been the same after that.

And finally, some things in life, you never know how much pain and hurt they will cause, until the day when finally lost. Ask anyone who's been in love and lost it.

So, it turns out there really is no telling how much something would please or hurt until we actually get there. Turns out it may not be a very good idea to plan your entire life ahead of you, for who knows how we might happen to not really like what we had planned for ourselves, or conversely, how we might actually like something we didn't quite bank upon.

I guess there is some merit to living under the stars after all.


  1. So, the moral is, Life has it's ups and downs. Though it is easier said than done, we must try and laugh it off, atleast smile it off...:)
    Yes, living under the stars is a merit in itself...:)

  2. I agree completely to the point where highly anticipated things have been a total let down, and things that I have been paranoid about have turned out 'not so bad afterall'. Life is a mixed bag..and has its moments of ups and dows..loved the line about living under the stars..definitely worth it! I am sorry for the loss though, half month's pay gone just like that, is not an easy thing. Take this as a learning incident and be careful in future. at times the strangest things or the sorriest evoke a post in said that didn't you?

  3. Long ago, I too was a victim. My entire camera system, which was quite valuable - price as well as sentiments - because I had built it up painstakingly over years, saving little by little. I was on a photo-trek to Himalayas and at Manali, before I could take a single good photo, I lost it all. I felt as if I had been raped, humiliated. It was worth much to me - I nearly went crazy... You see, it is not about losing a possession, but the unwelcome intrusion into your private, little life and robbing your happiness....

    Very often in one's life, one will have to suffer different versions of robbery. Money, happiness, peace of mind - why, one's bloody life itself!

    oh, but one continues to dream, to plan, to wish... if things work out the way you wanted, fine! Otherwise, well, just go on. What else there is to do? Just be honest with yourself and learn to live with the pain of being honest.

  4. @ Destiny: Welcome back. Moral? No, I dont seek to pass any morals about living.. I just sit down to write, and then the writing takes a life of its own.. what exactly would be written I have no idea until the time its completed, and then I just post it. I even do my editing after the post is made, because it is only as a reader, removed from the writer, that I can spot defeciencies. That's what i love most about blogging, this ability to edit after publishing, akin to taking back what one has spoken. How can i claim to pass morals through something I am so much NOT in control of?

    @Sujatha: I hope I might have learned my lesson. I guess I was already 'living under the stars' a bit too much, taking things as they come, on priniciple NOT being on my guard.. hope this brings in a little perspective

    @Bala: I remember the conversation we had regarding your Himalaya trip, theft of camera equipment, and your (?)desperate attempts to retrieve it. As for me, I just prefer to believe I made some desperate guy's new year, and further that he would have got his wife and children something good, rather than expending it on booze.

  5. Beautifully expressed. I am talking about the technical quality of your writing--it is very good; you are sure-footed narrating the incident and your feelings.

    Planning ahead, and the things working out the way we had planned, may give us that self-satisfying sense of fulfilment. But can we compare it with the joy of suddenly coming into something good, unexpected, unplanned for? When we lose something unexpected too, the intensity of the disappointment and feeling of hurt will be a great deal more than that if we had anticipated it.

    The ideal thing to do, it seems, is to take everything as it comes. And, when the bad arrives, look for some bright side to it--as, in your case, the New Year dawning on a briliant note for the thief with the bounties in your wallet!


Thanks for giving me this moment of your life.