I thought of having lunch with my flatmate Riju today. She was supposed to be in the university all day. I called her to ask her if we could meet but she did not answer. I called her back in half an hour and still no answer. Then the obsessive-compulsive-neurotic hormone was activated inside me and I kept calling her every fifteen minutes. With every unanswered call, I made up a better scenario in my head. Initially I assumed that she left her cellphone at home. It was a good assumption. However then it seemed really impossible that someone like Riju would ever forget something like her phone at home. Then my creativity kicked in as well and by the end of hour three I was sure that our house had been broken into and she had been tied to the chair while they swept through the house.
My miserable thoughts were interrupted by a loud ring. She was absolutely fine but had forgotten to get her phone off the silent mode.
I don't like to worry. No one does I guess but every time I am in a situation where a very simple reason makes perfect sense, I end up refusing to accept it and waste a lot of my time worrying about multiple impossible outcomes.
It runs in my family though. So sometimes when I worry a lot about why I worry, I blame it on my mother's side. My grandfather used to be a freedom fighter in the struggle for Mother India's independence. However he is a better "worrier" than a "warrior"!
I went to the U.S when I was fifteen years old, all by myself. My parents and my grandfather put me on a plane in Mumbai and returned to Pune. However my mom and my grandfather turned into a mixed doubles team on their way back. They used to throw these "worry balls" at my dad and he tried to play them both all alone. My mom thought instead of getting down at the Hong Kong airport, I would mistake Bangkok for Hong Kong and get down there instead while the plane waits for an hour (although my ticket screamed aloud of my next destination). She made baba call up the Hong Kong airport to make sure I had reached.
My dad was taking his momentary shaving solace in the bathroom (because that is the only activity my mom could not join him with and annoy him) when my grandfather entered the bathroom and locked the door from inside. My dad was prepared to get hit in the head but my grandfather bowled him over with his question and left him speechless for a while. "What if Saee's aunt does not come to get her at San Francisco at all?". To which my dad calmly replied,
"She has a return ticket. The Cathay Pacific staff would promptly put her back on to the next flight to Mumbai". When I (finally) reached and called them, my dad was almost in tears from being free of two worry maniacs.
I am the third generation of victims of unreasonable fears in my family. If you look at it from your ground state, the worries that take up most of your healthy, productive work-time are extremely ridiculous. When I am not in it, I can give a three hour sermon on peace of mind. When I am in it, I jut turn into this scary psychopath. Sometimes, the things that I imagine about my close ones are right out of a crime scene. Even as a child, if my mom did not come back home at a certain time, I used to think that the Sikh terrorists kidnapped her (yeah, they were really big in the eighties when Indira Gandhi was assassinated). Once I even told my neighbor that I am scared that Longawal kidnapped my mom and he almost had an attack of asthma laughing!
My dad's genes might have made me a little bit less of a neurotic though. He always told my mom, "Worry is intrest paid on trouble before it is due". Even as a five year old I knew that my dad would say that line at least thrice a week to her but as a twenty-five year old, I still find it hard to apply it to my thoughts when I get worried about silly things.
Every now and then though, there comes a cool summer evening where you stroll by the river and think to yourself, "Right now, there is nothing in this world that I should be worried about. It will all fall into place".
I wish my life had a little more of those evenings though!