romance

5 min read

I was watching FlashForward – a TV show focused on high-concept narrative around a mysterious event, that caused nearly everyone on the planet to simultaneously lose consciousness for 137 seconds, during which time people see what appears to be a vision of their own life approximately six months in the future: a global “flashforward“.
It boggled my mind. 2020 pandemic reminds me a lot like that. A black swan at global scale. Nobody, not even the brightest of minds on this planet, could have predicted that. Well, Bill Gates did. But that’s debatable.

As I survived through the pandemic, I feel fortunate and grateful to be surrounded by the people I love, who made the over-long lockdown worthwhile. The black devastating year was a great teacher, and a living testament of my emotional intelligence – patience, perseverance, pluck, and compassion. Someone once asked me, if I have learned anything at all. So let me tell you what I learned. I have learned that nothing in life is permanent. I have learned that nothing can replace the pain of losing a loved one. Life is fickle. Everybody dies at the end. But if we mean something to someone, if we loved someone, we are not truly gone. As long as our memories remain in the heart of those we love, our tales are told, our music is listened, our books are read, our paintings are admired, a part of us, though little, continues to live in this world.
I have learned that happiness can be found in darkest of times. I have learned that little things in life can be beautiful beyond imagination. Sitting on the porch, and watching the sun fade into the sky – lying on the rooftop, and counting the stars as they emerge from the blanket of darkness – strolling on the crosswalk, holding hands of a loved one, while they whisper something in your ear – enjoying exquisite delicacies someone you prepared only for you.
I have learned that nature always finds a way to heal itself. Covid19, while it deeply scarred the lives of people across the globe, there are things in nature which we never realized were there. Dolphins returned to Venice. Himalayan ranges can be seen from certain parts of Punjab. Clear blue skies, vibrant sunsets — colours that I so wanted to see in Hyderabad for the last 7 years– were all here.
I have learned that you can find love in weirdest of places in weirdest of ways. And that lockdowns can be beautiful. Nothing can really replace the feeling of spending the moments with someone you love. No materialistic thing in this world is, and will ever, be capable of that.
I have learned that sometimes we should follow our hearts, and take its guidance. If you want to meet someone, spend time with someone, never ever think twice. Life rarely gives a second chance.
I have learned that as you grow, the number of friends trims down. Fake and pretentious people leave, and those who are true remain. It’s a process of selection.

Having lived a good part of the year in silent contemplation of various aspects of life, I’ve come to realize that nothing in life holds permanent. A year filled with pain of losing a loved one, joy of finding new love, opportunities missed, chances not taken (which sometimes never come), decisions – good and bad, lost friends, regrets. I realized that life is fickle after-all. Humans are minuscule in grand scheme of things, and sometimes we don’t have a choice. All we can do is wait, and watch events unfold in mysterious unpredictable ways.

Last year was truly special because of two major events in my life. I met a wonderful woman, Keeya, my life partner, because of whom the lockdown turned out to be the best gift I could’ve asked for.
I also took a difficult decision relocating to North American shore. As much deeply as I want to pen about it, perhaps it’s a long story for another time.

When everything is over, when the worst has happened… there’s still one thing left in Pandora’s box — hope — hope that everything will be okay. It has to be. It’s a cycle of life.

March 23, 2020 – A date that still sends the shivers down me. I saw my net worth plummet like a rock to 47%. Nifty was at 7600, and I just didn’t know how to react. Wonderful businesses were selling at throw away prices, and I had no clue if I should buy or sell. As I reminisce those unprecedented times, I am fortunate to have held onto the businesses I believed in. I kept calm, and pretended I was living under a rock, as if nothing has happened. Albeit my floccinaucinihilipilification of the market bottom lost me a multi-decadal opportunity, the feeling of coming out of it unscathed is unparalleled, and can’t be expressed in words. Patience is the silent acceptance that things can unfold in a different order than planned.

As we’re at the fag end of an unfortunate year, here is a list of things I learned in 2020.

  1. It is often when one least expects it that fate arrives at our door. We can’t foresee it any more than we can escape it. No matter how hard we run or hide, fate, like death, will always find us.
    You can’t always plan for unprecedented times. Be flexible. Learn to adapt
  2. You don’t seek love. Oftentimes, you find it in weirdest of places in weirdest of times
  3. You don’t find excellence. You build it and then it takes you places
  4. Developed countries are not always developed in everything. The first thing that I missed in Vancouver is the disruption from Mukesh Ambani in India
  5. Loneliness is real. It’s hard to make friends abroad
  6. Stay away from pretentious, dishonest people. They suck all your energy and positivity. If you spot a pathological liar, run as far, and as fast as you can
  7. The colour of Autumn is worth all the hype. Despite being ephemeral, and a showstopper of destruction, it oozes positivity. I realize why writers have been musing over romantic October evenings, Cinnamon brown leaves, benches filled with dried leaves, for eons.
  8. Life doesn’t always give second chances
  9. Plan for FIRE as early in your life as you can. Timing the market is a futile exercise. Time in the market matters
  10. Lockdowns can be beautiful – if you’re stuck with the right person
  11. Be grateful for the good health you got. Other things in life may not hold much value, if you’re not healthy
  12. Never ever tie your happiness with wealth. Your wealth can erode in a single unfortunate day

Cheers to yet another year! And remember, Anni, amori e bicchieri di vino, nun se contano mai – “Years, Lovers and Glasses of wine… these are the things never to be counted”

Copyright © 2021, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.

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2 min read

February 14, 2020
Kristen,
It’s not very often that someone you talk to, intrigues and fascinates you in ways you never felt before. There was something in you, that charmed me in no time, like a magician playing tricks, effortlessly in front of awestruck audience. I am unsure of what it was that rendered me, spellbound, while talking to you. If I were to arrange it, in words, in the best of my abilities, I would picture you as a wave, crashing on the shores, making people go crazy, and want more of you. The most valuable art known to me, is the skill to keep the conversation moving. And, with you, it’s effortless, like a daily habit. I can talk to you for hours, and hours, and hours, and yet, it’s never enough. These days, my mind entertains nothing, but the thought of you. It’s irresistible to wait till next morning to hear your voice, one more time. Once a free bird, is now captivated by your enchanting voice, never to be freed again. When did I fall so deeply under your spell, Kristen. It’s hard to tell the time, or the moment. What I know is that I was already smitten by you, the moment I realized.

I always wondered, how two people end up spending rest of their lives together without getting bored. And then I met you. I have started to believe that rarely in your life, the stars align, and you get lucky enough to come across someone just perfect for you, who sets your heart on fire. And suddenly, you can’t imagine your life without her.

I have fallen head over heels in love with you, baby. I love you as bees love flowers and poets love poetry. I love you as icebergs love ship and fireflies love night. I love you as deserts love rain and drunkards love alcohol. I love you as cruises love seas and musicians love chords.
You flew like the autumn in my life with your pleasant refreshing breeze, and rendered me, colorful and significant. You’re to me, what water is to fishes. The potency of this love has no bounds, and I only wish, that some day, I would be able to carve it into words — for this small writing is vastly dwarfed by what I feel for you.

Copyright © 2020, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.

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2 min read

September 25, 2018
Mary,
A thing in particular I don’t like about life is that sometimes, we get to know someone deeply only to realize later it wasn’t bound to last and a time comes when we have to let it go. It all starts as fun. We screw up sleeps only to live an extra hour in that enchantment. Slowly it grips us in its storm and before we know, it throws us to the other side of the emotional landscape where golden sunshines are annihilated by gloomy thunderstorms, pleasant autumns are taken over by harsh winters and rays of hope are veiled by incessant rains.

It has been said that people our hearts beat for leave a part of them in us marking our souls forever. I know our time was as ephemeral as all beautiful things in the world are. But if there was a moment ever when my presence brought upon your face a smile, my words made you chuckle and my voice comforted you in times of distress, I will assume my existence in this universe has made a mark upon your soul.

What is love, Mary? Is it the sum of all beautiful moments we had? Is love sweet? If it is, why is it that your love is hurting me like hell. Why is that, that thing in your life soured all the things we promised each other? Was our love that weak, Mary? Was it that brittle?

My words would never measure upto what I feel for you. Before I met you, I used to spend nights in silent contemplation of the void in my life. Looking up at the stars, and the moon in lonely nights, I wondered when my life would be miraculous. And then “us” happened. Your presence filled my dormant life with joy. How will I wake up without the crack of your sweet voice?

This is probably the last letter you’ll receive from me. I won’t be writing any more letters to you, for my mind has subdued my heart. All those letters you read were penned with heart, hence they might have felt real. Had mind interfered in between, there would have been a lot of logic, and calculation, and psychology, and words won’t have been the same.

Copyright © 2019, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.

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< 1 minute

August 29, 2018
Mary,
The night is darker and lonelier than ever. I find a weird grave quietness in the air, the kind when the storm settles down silencing everything around. In this time of the hour, I wonder if you’ve gradually become my muse, for everything I write these days revolves around you. I am unsure if it’s your lingering charm or your stupendous attitude that I’ve started loving the darkness of silos and the only sound my mind entertains is of scribbling on my decade old rusty diary.

When did I fall so deeply under your spell, Mary? I’m probably at loss of words. There is a fundamental reason on why we fall for someone so easily, for the same reason we fall in love with stars and billion years old objects at first sight. There are forces in this world that can’t be reasoned with. And we mortals are weak in matters of heart.

Copyright © 2019, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.

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