My 20th birthday was certainly the most interesting one I have had yet. About a month ago, I put down a demand in front of my parents that I wanted to spend it in Delhi, with my school friends. They bitched and moaned about it, but they too had been planning a trip there, and so they finally agreed and I was over the moon.
Now before I go any further, you must know that for some inexplicable reason my fate follows the Tyler Durden philosophy of “losing all hope was freedom”, which basically means that whenever I really want something to happen, the opposite happens, but when I stop wanting it, voila!
I give this little piece of information because just the week before we were scheduled to leave, my little brother fell really sick and the whole plan was very nearly scrapped. Still, with cautious optimism and a whole ton of meds, my family and I led on. We persevered through a terribly uncomfortable two-night train journey to Ajmer (the first of our two stops). We tolerated the awful hotel room that had been booked for us. Things seemed brighter, and then I got a high fever on the eve of my big day.
So at nearly midnight on the 24th of August, I was in a non-AC Indian train, sick and tired and annoyed! Still I found myself reflecting backwards, and forwards. I was unexpectedly having all these thoughts that were further triggered by an extremely appropriate song I happened to be listening to at the moment. The chorus of the song is “Forever I’ve known, that nothing lasts forever” and I just knew that I had to record these musings somewhere because they felt oddly important and something I would want to look back on maybe a later birthday.
Note- Thank God and Samsung for the memo app in my phone- a friend when-one-doesn’t-have-a-pen-or-paper-or-even-sufficient-lights-for-that-matter is a friend indeed.
I am of the opinion that certain events in a person’s life allow them to, however phonily, philosophize everything around them. Blame the assortment of pills and ayurvedic tonics brewing in my stomach at the time, but that’s exactly what I started to do. I mean I had been, to avert my brother’s taunts about my “lame train birthday”, making up all these claims about how it is actually very symbolic since like the train, I too am moving from one place in my life to another. But at that moment, these fake excuses started to make sense. Even the actual striking of the clock at midnight was at some random junction where the train had just stopped, and this weird age that I had not been bracing myself for at all started. Just like that. Due to the play, my brother’s sickness and the traveling, I had not had any time to freak out about the birthday and then it just suddenly came out of nowhere and hit me like a big, yellow school bus!
And as I do in any given situation, I started thinking about films. How now the teenage films were not for me anymore! How could this be?! Strangely, two of the best films I had seen recently were about women dealing with their age- Bachelorette, in which the women were stuck in their high school personas and Another Woman, in which the protagonist, who was in her 50s, looks back at her life. I had also read a book on a similar topic, and all this made me realise that the reason why I wasn’t feeling like the age that I was. I had grown up watching and reading and listening and thinking that 20 is different. That that would be the age when I grow up and know what to do and how to be. That I would come of age, whatever that means. But age really is, just a number.
The reason I say this is because in the morning, after I almost fainted in the train station, I, Nikhat Zahra, 20 years old, slept cuddled up next to my mommy (because that’s what I do when I’m sick, okay). The rest of the day was much nicer. My health improved. I met my friend who I had not seen for more than a year. We went to a little music-y gathering in her college, that on that perfect, rainy afternoon was a beautiful and enjoyable experience. We had McDonalds and later a slice of really delicious chocolate cake. She and my other friend gifted me a pair of sex dice and this uber cool camera-shaped USB thing (best gifts everrrr!). We unfortunately couldn’t get drunk or do anything more eyebrow raising, but for a day that was very close to not happening at all, it ended up being really fun.
So now I am 20 years and 10 days old. Have I come of age yet? Probably not. Have I done the things I wanted to do by the time I was 20 years and 10 days? Mostly no. But as they say, the youth is wasted on the young. I now look forward to make the best of these years of my life.
Also speaking of the list, here are My Favourite Coming Of Age Films (what else?). I'm putting random quotes instead of explanations because my own perception of the term is hazy-
Honourable Mentions: While it's probably my favourite film of the lot, I just cannot accept The Breakfast Club as a coming-of-age film presently. Right now, it represents the eternal power of youth and only that for me. I will probably regret not placing it in the list later, but it is what it is. Also I have practically no memory of 400 Blows, and though I know that I really liked it, I don't remember my feelings for this aspect of it. The other mentions are About a Boy, Ghost World and Fish Tank.
10) Clueless (1995)
"I want to do something for humanity."
9) The Graduate (1967)
"It's like I was playing some kind of game, but the rules don't make any sense to me. They're being made up by all the wrong people. I mean no one makes them up. They seem to make themselves up."
8) Igby Goes Down (2002)
"I'm drowning in assholes."
7) Stand By Me (1986)
"We knew exactly who we were and exactly where we were going. It was grand."
6) Margaret (2011)
"Because... this isn't an opera! And we are not all supporting characters to the drama of your amazing life!"
5) Submarine (2011)
"I often imagine how people would react to my death."
4) Rushmore (1998)
"The secret, I don't know... I guess you've just gotta find something you love to do and then... do it for the rest of your life. For me, it's going to Rushmore."
3) The Dreamers (2003)
"Before you can change the world you must realize that you, yourself, are part of it. You can't stand outside looking in."
2) Juno (2007)
"Uhhh, I hate it when adults use the term "sexually active." What does it even mean? Am I gonna like deactivate some day or is it a permanent state of being?"
1) Almost Famous (2000)
"One day you'll be cool. Look under your bed, it'll set you free."
I hope you liked this, whatever it is :)