Wednesday, September 24

Gap

So what happened this time?

Don't know... it seemed to be going... I suppose 'well' is too strong a word... decent, by his standards, shall we say?

Hmm... was he being himself again? That's not exactly appealing, you know.

Hey, c'mon, that's a bit harsh. He's okay... maybe too melancholic at first glance, but we know better... he's a nice guy... funny as hell.

Exactly the problem, idiot. We know him well... that's taken time, not to mention a lot of effort on our part... he doesn't really make a great first impression. Or the second, come to that.

Perhaps... but, he tried this time... really, he did.

Did he? Seems to me, he could have done better... if he'd made that decision... booked that ticket....

Fuck that! It was a bloody good thing he didn't and you know it. Imagine landing up there and finding out.

Puhlease!! He should have done it... it would have shown intent.

Guys, the way I see it, intent wouldn't have been enough... something was missing and not from him either.

Of course you will say that only... keep mollycoddling this moron...

No, no... hear me out... he's a novice. We know that. And while we all feel the urgency, he can't simply shed who he is, like a snake, can he? After all, where will that leave us?

We'll be fine... he can't leave us. Fact.

You lot ever think that could be...

DON'T YOU FUCKING DARE SAY IT!

Yea, we can hardly be the problem. We've got his best interests at heart.

Do we? Then why's he still alone?

*...*

Look, let's forget this happened. Tomorrow's another day.

Dollface, between the sameness of tomorrow and right now is the endless night. And the way he's going, anything can happen between now and sunrise.

Ha! I'll be shocked if something new actually happens. He's pretty predictable. Boring.

Jeez, did you really have to say that? He can hear us.

And? Let him hear. You think I like living like this? I want him to do something and change the situation. Miserable fuck.

Okay, you know what? That's just wrong, so stop...

It's right. That's what hurts.

Hehehe... a little hurt can't hurt. Besides, I know we all sometimes wonder whether he even cares... he's not exactly emotionally available, is he?

Seriously, guys...

No, I mean it... doesn't it sometimes feel like he's given up? I mean, look at him... looks like he's just going through the motions, up on stage, under the lights, saying lines that he doesn't really believe in, forcing expressions that aren't true.

Sigh... So what really happened? Let's ask him.

Is that such a good idea? It's better if he pretends he can't hear us, no? 

No! Enough of that crap... let's just ask him. What say?

This is not a good idea.

It's a great idea. Besides, it's not like he's busy is he? Phone's not ringing much anymore.

Asshole. That's what you are. A cruel, asshole.  

Hey, let's not fight... and we'll ask. Because if it's what we all think it is... man, how can such a smart guy be so dumb?

You know what he wants. He can't help himself.

Fine. Do it. Just make it quick.

So, what's the question?
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"If you've invested almost nothing, why does it matter so much?" the voices kept asking.

For the longest time, he said nothing, hoping the question would stop, hoping the silence would return. But it didn't. Worse, he could make out different voices. That hadn't happened before and he was starting to worry. But he turned up the music anyway and continued staring out the window at the stations whooshing by. But the voices cut through the music, drowning out everything, till he wasn't sure the music was even playing. And then the train had one of those inexplicable halts between stations and just waited and waited, while the voices kept asking again, again and again, until...  

"It felt nice. It felt normal." he screamed. "I felt..." but he choked. "Please just leave me alone!"

The whole compartment went silent. The old man sitting in the adjacent seat casually got up and went to stand by the door. He could feel the others staring, but continued looking out the window, unable to bear their looks. Finally, after what felt like ages, the train reached the station and he bolted off it as fast as he could. He didn't have to turn around to know that they were still staring but he didn't care. At least he could hear the music again. That was all he wanted.
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Mother of god, the silly fool. Why does he allow it to happen? Every fucking time!

He can't help it. Just shut your face.

Poor bastard. It was that, wasn't it? We know it was.

Sigh... yes, it was.

Say it. Just say it. 

He felt happy...
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Song for the moment: No you girls - Franz Ferdinand

Saturday, September 6

Who are you?

In conversation with a recent acquaintance last week, I realised my contribution to the exchange was gradually becoming one-dimensional. After the easy hors d'oeuvres, the main course was a well-plated dish of almost nothing. In that, I could only talk about work-related stuff, which (even to me) suggests that I am a very boring guy, with no real interests or hobbies. No life, basically.

Admittedly, talking to new people is difficult, and gets more challenging as we grow older. If you are lucky enough to meet them early in life, then there's no pressure to come across as an interesting person. You are who you are and social Darwinism will either cull or preserve, and allow your friendship/relationship to evolve. On the other hand, meeting someone new when you're entrenched in a demanding job, with nary a social activity in sight, challenges the limits of creativity. The most mundane of things have to be generously embellished; you have to constantly evaluate where this new situation is going - What can you share about yourself? What  kind of jokes can you make? How do you react to their opinions and lifestyle choices?

And, how much do they differ from your other friends? This is in a class of its own because the rest of the stuff can be controlled. You could compromise a bit and accommodate the new person's kookier baggage, but would your friends do that? Should they? How much? And how will group dynamics affect everyone? By which I mean, will the incumbent Alphas knowingly and unknowingly influence the situation?

If you choose to think about this, the experience is exhausting, though if the chips fall correctly, worth it.

"I don't need new friends" is a phrase heard quite often as we grow older. Why? Because old friends are like expanding bookends (pardon me S&G); they know us well enough to tolerate the bouts of one-dimensionality because they go through it too. Once we were young, reasonably wild and full of beans. Now we're not exactly over the hill, more inclined to less hairy adventures and full of hummus. Not to mention, the inside jokes, phraseology and eccentricities, which would bewilder and effectively isolate the outsider.

Coming back to the original point - Am I this person who gets through 12-14 hour workdays, week after week, month after month, getting on and off the trains at odd hours, walking into an empty house, cooking for one at ungodly hours, exhaustedly falling into bed and making semi-obligatory visits to Pune? Or am I someone else... Someone more interesting, if only I chose to be?

I won't fool myself. Or anyone else. Right now, life is pretty one-dimensional and is unlikely to change any time soon. I may want to cook up a storm, but the kitchen shelves are slight bare. As I've said before, routine, good or bad, is a dangerously addictive drug. One part of me might yearn to break free, live a bohemian life, allowing me to fry up plenty of conversational meat; another is constantly whispering sweet nothings about rising inflation, needs, wants, responsibilities, etc. and urging me to gulp the green tea of mundaneness.

The Id rattles the cage doors. The Super Ego gives disapproving looks. The Ego? It's out to lunch.

Song for the moment: Traffic in the sky - Jack Johnson