Un-Belong

In the winter of 2011, as we sat around yet another sparsely furnished, freshly painted Gurgaon house, the conversation turned to music. A little argument broke out between an old aunt and her niece over the latter’s choice of music- a new age, conventional band. When the conversation moved to guitar riffs, and drummers of a kind, and bassist of choice- I paled. A foolish jumble of words later, I was an utterly uncool musical novice, in their eyes and mine. I had managed to mumble my way through a subject I was utterly passionate about, yet again…

Which is not to say I know my music well. I don’t know lead singers, and band origins, and entire discographies- and yet I spend all day with the Beatles, and the Eagles, and Queen, and the Traveling Wilburys, and Lifehouse, and so on.

I just know my music differently. I remember people by their stories rather than their names, books by how they broke my heart rather than their chronology, music by lyrics rather than their singers, and places by memories than their geography.

That day, and the months that followed I cursed myself over losing the right words, in the wrong time over and over again. I was at my then-boyfriend’s aunt’s place, and needed desperately to come off as cool.

But even in a Wodehouse-reading, Floyd-listening, English-speaking crowd of eccentrics I couldn’t quite belong.

This theme of un-belong has stayed with me a better part of my life. I read books but dog-ear them much to book-lovers’ dismay, devour cuisine but know so little of its origin, work in advertising without the slobbering mess of an every-day-drunk.

Just shy of twenty-seven now, I think maybe I ought to embrace my un-belong? Maybe I need to find my sense of belong in the many contradictions that take me from my love for poetry to none of the stereotypes of poets? And, my love for love, and yet my desperate need to not be bound by it?

I think I ought to embrace my un-belong. It’s okay. It’s okay to know the history but forget the facts, to be a manager but not know how to get into business school, to love the guitar without the scales.

…To run a race without wanting to win it. To run a race without anybody in it.

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