Every time there is a request to review a book and I say yes, all the other books lying unread before me can do nothing but wait expectantly. And I have been doing this for ages. The number of unread books has grown. I am wondering now if every yes to read one book actually meant not reading others… or not doing other equally vital things like sitting indecisively and dreaming. Or even yearning. Or browsing the net. Gossiping. Walking. Talking. Shopping. Opportunities are funny things that when they come along, they bring with them a host of lost chances.

I wonder if Kshama Bindu has the same thoughts cutting through her decision to opt for marrying herself. Not that I have anything against sologamy because aren’t we all sologamous in one way or the other? We hear so often about people being married to their jobs or passions that they are left with no time or inclination for their other partners who travel through the mists and clear skies of life, so to say. This incident is not just about Kshama and her decision to marry herself… there is the pundit who said yes and then backed out, guests who might have declined to attend, politicians who weighed public opinion with a sane one, and a refusal from temples to have her marriage solemnized within their precincts. All of them hovered between a yes and a no for some time before opting for the latter.

Forever between a yes and a no - artwork by Arvind Passey
Forever between a yes and a no – artwork by Arvind Passey

Willing or unwilling, we are forever a part of this continuing battle between a yes and a no. And every time we say yes to one, we effectively decline others.
Tea or coffee? – he asked.
Tea for me. – she said. Coffee declined.
This is almost like the time our eyes hover over a page full of election symbols before we finally push one button.
Choose one, says time. And we obey.

One yes brings along with it a horde of arguments and, we may not realise this, a complete change in the way life shapes thereafter. Almost like that first job offer that seemed like a solution to all your woes once and you decided to drop your pursuit of higher studies. Or the subjects you said you wanted to study while in senior secondary school. You know after a few years how irrevocably bound you are to the choice that you made earlier. There will always be cardiologists who envy pediatricians, architects who think their friends in stock broking are luckier, civil servants who think they have messed up their lives, businessmen who think a job was better, and corporate executives who yearn to be entrepreneurs, to cite a few instances. This is the sort of debate that is forever raging and is so reflective of being linked to that one ‘yes’ or ‘I do’ uttered in the past. I am sure even Chetan Bhagat must sometimes be thinking how different his life would have been had he written literary classics and not pulp fiction.

Before someone points out, let me add here that even a change of path means hopping onto another merry-go-round and so we find doctors becoming actors, industrialists entering politics, and civil servants becoming writers. Sometimes they succeed. But then, not everyone is a Shashi Tharoor or a Dr ShriRam Lagoo. Not every airline pilot or chai-wala gets to be the PM of a country. Though I believe even they must be wondering sometimes how their lives would have been had they not said yes to whatever led to their present situation.

We are forever between a yes and a no. Yes, despite all those times when we uttered a yes. We are all flying through time clutching our little box filled with yeahs and with a long trail of nays fluttering tantalizingly, always there and yet beyond our reach.




Arvind Passey
09 June 2022