Sunday, August 7, 2011

The ties that bind....and gag!

It is the hour of the day I most look forward to. Here I stand, behind an old, discarded building that is nearly falling apart, amidst 3 women I know just from those 5 shared minutes each day. They are strangers to me, these women. And yet I know the pattern so clearly. Four of us, each lost in our own thoughts, sharing a coveted moment of peace; a drag or two of a cigarette, undiscovered, undisturbed by the world. Four women, partners in crime, stand here amidst the debris and the muddy snow, sharing a false sense of peace, a moment of respite, without which the day snails along.

One is a middle aged woman, about 50 I`d guess, always dressed in a pair of maroon corduroys and a pink fleece jacket. I see her in the university cafeteria often, picking up after the students. The other is a woman in her 40s, dressed in a pair of janitor scrubs and a flashy rainbow colored jacket. She wears glasses too. I see her every day in the hospital corridors. The third woman is a healthcare executive, in her 30s, always formally dressed. I counted up to 13 different pairs of shoes and then lost count. And interest too.

I share a nod with them. Often times a smile. And sometimes if I`m feeling chatty enough, a four-word conversation too. But I think about them often. Who are these women? Are they like me? Who do they go back home to? What keeps them awake at night? Have they lost a dear one like I have? Do they grapple with those invisible threads of peace that come within grasp once in a while and then as quickly slither away? What makes them smile? What makes them tick?

It`s strange, how often I come across them in the corridors, in the elevator, in the cafeteria..everywhere you know, going about their daily work. And yet, there are no knowing glances that reek of familiarity. But here.. here it is different. Here, standing amidst the building remains and the slush, we are no strangers here. A momentary truth of a connection..that`s all. No knowing smiles, nor expectations that weigh down on you. No judgments passed.

Sometimes the magic goes away if you look at the pieces too closely. And perhaps, I`m better off by simply letting it go at that.

Much has changed since the last time I wrote.. Just as it should, I suppose.

A year since I started going to the U and a year left to go. Life, however, continues to drift. Not as smoothly as I would expect, but drifting along all the same. I met new people, saw new places, and learnt new things about myself. Some that I was aware of as small underlying ripples beneath the surface and some that completely took me by surprise. Like how I absolutely love doing geeky stuff! The painful awareness that this may be one of the very, very few things I might have in common with The G. That even though I might sometimes feel embarrassed by fellow ‘desis’ by the overtly flamboyant moves, I have no patience, nor any level of understanding of people who are embarrassed about being ‘Indian’.

That there was a time in my life when I craved for company..some human touch; when solitude made me uncomfortable. And the realization that those times have changed. That now I long to be alone. I long to get away from people who judge me for not being ‘normal’. I long to understand what ‘being normal’ really means.. I can go for days without talking to people; without the weight of emails that need responses and phone calls that need returns. I long to be myself and not who others think I should be. And I wonder if friendship is overrated. And why being ‘social’ is touted as a virtue. And wanting to remain a loner is value-judged..

This perhaps is not the most appropriate of posts on ‘Friendship Day’, I realize.. Just that of late I have been feeling pretty unsettled and I needed to get the thoughts out of my system. However, to the very few ‘friends’ that I have remaining, who understand my need for some breathing room, and who would be reading this post even if no one else in the world does, I’d like to add that I love you and that I would not have made it through without you. Here`s to you and here`s to our friendship..