Meet Bob. Bob is a circle monkey. He’s someone who’ll run around a circle looking for an end point. Bob is not an actual monkey as much as he is a man delivered with one additional sense. Bob is not a stranger as much as he is you and I.
Sarah hates Bob. Bob knows this. Bob hates Sarah for hating him for no reason. Sarah knows Bob hates her. This is the reason she hates Bob.
Until we meet in the circle again, monkeys.
Our first circle starts to form in school. It is this huge circle that freely admits people based on what they bring for lunch. The circle begins to disintegrate when one monkey refuses to share food. The next day, the refused monkey refuses to share food. There’s a crack in the circle until one side refuses to share food with the other side because the other side refused to share food with this side. Each side thinks the other is full of selfish-pig monkeys.
The number of circles increase as lunch is replaced with grades, coolness quotient, love interests and how deeply you love Shahrukh Khan. More circles with fewer people. The final stages are circular enclosures based on former schools, language , maturity, smoking preferences, the ones who met on facebook before actually meeting, the quite ones who eat a lot of curd, the boisterous ones who make fun of those who eat curd, the stoned, the music lovers who love the sound of vibration, and the creepy one-person circles. Every circle knows deep down that the other circles are loaded with a bunch of monkeys.
Most of these circles wane when the circle of circles takes over. The one circle to rule them all. The one with your precious:
The relationship circle.
Even before we begin, let me get this out-of-the-way. It is something every relationship expert will tell you using crumby words like responsibility, ego, unconditional love and all that. Here’s the blunt summary however:
There is only one monkey in the relationship circle.
Your first introduction to the relationship circle happens outside it, as an emotionally tipsy observer of mom-dad arguments. You will see how mom and dad can never shut up at the same time and go in this endless loop about something until one of them is tired or until you lose it, enter the circle and perform a weird dance and shout shut up 48 times.
You think how adults can be such monkeys and then she shows up: your precious.
So, on a random Friday evening, she reminds you of how you behaved like a monkey on a random Saturday morning last month. You shrug – laugh your monkey laugh – and remind her that she was the unevolved that day, but that it’s okay now since it happened the last month. You end with your standard routine anyway: ‘sorry.’
What did you just say that you didn’t mean?
Because, now she’s throwing emotional jackfruit on your face. You eat it up and bring out your own impassive pebbles. You blame her and she blames you and you tell her she blames you because you blame her and she says you always blame her, and now it’s about the words always and never. The jackfruit and pebbles start to hurt eventually and you are both shouting, and now it’s about shouting and not shouting and shouting about not shouting. And this is exactly what happened on that random Saturday morning.
Do you see the circle?
We don’t see these circles in school because there’re always more circles. Heck, you can treat three friends to a banana milkshake and form your own chest-thumping circle. As you grow older, you realize that there are no more circles left.
Imagine a kid who goes to an amusement park, sits on a ride, throws up after, feels better, eats popcorn, goes back on the same ride to prove a point, throws up again, feels better, eats ice-cream, tries to prove a point again, throws up again and on and on. Dumb kid. But, that’s exactly what we do: you, me, Bob, and Sarah. On and on we go in our circles with no one to show us that we are in a giant freaking amusement park with plenty of other ways to prove a point and still amuse oneself without throwing up all over ourselves.
I used the example of relationships not to dole out sage advice on relationships, but to remind myself (and you) of the obliviousness of the circle monkey behavior we indulge in repeatedly. We tell ourselves ‘life is short’ to be having these circuitous resentment and fights, but like that kid, we feel better, eat popcorn and go back on the ride anyway. So if it helps, let me try something different.
Life is giant amusement park alright. Instead of riding the rollercoaster together and holding onto each other on the way down – in spite of the hatred, instead of hopping on the toy train and waving at people – in spite of not knowing them, instead of driving each other crazy in a 3000 ways which include, but are not limited to splashing water on the face, singing a song loudly badly, noisily slurping every sip of the drink, vanishing underwater and coming out from the other side – instead of all of that, Bob – you choose to go on this one circle of a ride constantly throwing up on yourself.