Ever wondered what you’d be if you were not who you are? No, I do not mean what would be the alternative career options or alternatives in locales, spouse, significant one, or whatever. You could tell me that if you were not a software engineer working in one of the leading companies in Bangalore today (just let’s say), you’d have taken up medicine and would be a doctor. But no, that is not what I mean. Have you just looked at random people around you and wondered that you could have been this person? Just looked at the woman in the bus and wondered- What if I was not what I was and I was this woman? Or maybe looked at someone and thought- I could never ever be this person. Never with a capital N !
I have been wondering for some time now the hows, whys, and the dynamics of who we are and who we are not. It is a difficult question to answer, deeply philosophical, and yours truly is not going to delve into things so complicated. But more than philosophy, I believe that who we are is only a matter of chance, probability, randomness, and a gamut of other factors like people and circumstances. What if you were not born into the family you were born into, but were born into the neighbor’s family? Would you still be the person you are? Or would you be something akin to the next door neighbor’s kid?
What we are is essentially a meshwork of our genetic framework, surrounded by an even more important network of our ambience, and essentially the environment that we live in and that continuously affects us and shapes us.
When the guy next door failed in his finals, I thought- Gosh, I could never be like him.
When R died due to alcoholism and reckless driving, I thought- Gosh, I could never be like him.
When my friend gave up a lucrative job to marry someone she did not even know, I thought- Gosh, I could never be like her.
When the astronaut I met recently showed me Jupiter and its moons, and told me all about the stars and the planets, I thought- Gosh, he is so smart. I could never be like him.
And then, there were a couple of other people I met that made me think- God, I wish I were like him.
You get the drift, right?
Why is it that we compare our lives in terms of other people’s lives? Why is it that we sometimes want to (or don’t want to) live other people’s lives? It is something I’ve often speculated when my mind just went blank and run out of ideas to think of.
Anyway, coming back to the point, I was wondering who I was if I was not who I was. What if I wasn’t born into the family I was born in? What if I had not come to the US? What if I was not Indian after all?
I wonder if I am beginning to show incipient signs of lunacy.
So the other day I came up with a theory that I called the random theory. I just forgot who I was for a moment and wondered who I could be. And I was surprised because the first thing that came to my mind was- I could have been a homemaker in a family who lived at Ballygunge Place. I don’t know how did the Ballygunge part (or the homemaker part either) came to my mind. Ballygunge by the way is one of the upscale neighborhoods in South Kolkata. The first vision I saw was the tall housing localities near the Ballygunge post office that smells of affluence.
But then, I could have been anyone, and I could have been anywhere. Maybe a hundred times different from who I am or where I am. I might have been a banker in Singapore. I might have been a rancher in Australia. I might have been a rodeo man in Spain. Who knows?
Have you ever randomly wondered about who you would be if you were not what you are?