It was a Sunday in June 2008. I had come home from a twisted Biology test. Twisted because it had complex questions on photosynthesis, the kind of questions that make you mentally reconsider the significance of photosynthesis. In those days, High Order Thinking Skills were all the rage for CBSE board exams and this test had certainly established that I might not even possess lower order thinking skills. So I just wanted to sink deep into my bed and wake up to a reality where my mental faculties seemed less questioned upon.
Do you have an elder brother? Because if you do, you’d know, never is it that your plans supersede theirs. So enter the elder brother with his relentless insistence that I play a racing game on Playstaion with him. When you are feeling down and out about not having fared well at something you’re good at, you don’t hop on to do something that you most certainly are horrible at. In this case video games, being my downfall. Mentally recalling the days of Need for Speed the horror, I out-rightly refused, reasoning that I stand nowhere near his highness and today is not the day that I stumble over a rock voluntarily and then make jokes about my ineptitude. Establishing the point I was trying to make earlier, never is it that they can let you have your way. So ten minutes on and I find myself parked in front of the television, holding the controller with a sense of purpose that I have to get done with this game and embrace sleep asap. What I was required to do was corner the cars on the street and crash them. This was called a takedown and the player with the higher takedowns would win in the end. I don’t know whether it was the nerves from the test or a fluke, but I won. It wasn’t that first game, but every game after that, when I’d ruthlessly take take on opponents and win.
As I have once before remarked, when you have an elder brother your parameter of good performance is being better than him. Needless to say, that Burnout was nothing short of being the Tennis to my Federer. Never before had I enjoyed any racing game let alone any video game. One can fall prone to liking what they’re good at but I liked Burnout even on the days I lost. There was a thing about the entire setup that would give me an adrenaline rush and instantly lift my spirits up.
That year my brother got me a Play station Portable as a Rakhi gift. And while every person my age had soaked themselves in NCERT textbooks, my energies were focused on making it through the Burnout World Dominator series. After that it was about helping Kratos avenge the gods in God of War. And then about fighting the Dark Lord in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Those were the good old gaming days unlike today where the idea of gaming is running ceaselessly on while collecting coins or hopping ceaselessly while collecting coins or aiming ceaselessly while collecting coins. Racing games on phones involve moving the phone left and right while the processor takes care of the speed, power ups, direction and every possible peril that awaits on the road.
You’d be wondering why am I strolling in the corridors of past today. Because I am cleaning my room and reorganizing things. Rather I was meant to do that until I lay my hands on the PSP and decided to play Burnout again. I am a person of indulgences who ends up hoarding things. Everything in my possession has a story that I can tell. So how do I come to decide upon the set of things that define home to me? How do I muster the courage to give up on the rest of the stories? After the events of today, I clearly am not cut out for abandonment.