You May Not Remember

“Hello mummy”
“Haa Avi… what did you have today?”
“I made rice. Ordered curry”
“Huh…What? Your niece is making a lot of noise. Can you hear her? Eeeyy! Do you want to talk to your uncle?! She is busy with her toys. Wait, let me go someplace else”
“What is she doing?”
“We had gone to the temple. She got a lot of toys at the jaatre. She got some musical instrument. Is it called the harmonium? I don’t know. She is riding her car and playing it. The car is also making sound, she is also making sound!”
“Oh okay”
“What did you have today?”
“I ordered curr-”
“Haa…You ordered curry”
“Yesterday there was nema at the temple. Do you remember we had gone together once? You were a kid. We had woken up early at 3:00 am. And went to see the nema. You wouldn’t remember. Do you?”
“No. I don’t remember.”
“Yes, we had gone. You were small. We had woken up early. We sat on the hillside. Do you remember seeing a person running down the hill with a torch? You may not remember. You were a kid. Do you remember?”
“Yeah… you may not remember. It happened this time too. So we had gone.”
“She is making a lot of noise. I’ll keep the phone.”

On Cutting Hair

In the barbershop where I used to cut my hair as a kid, there was a poster on the wall. It was a view of a hillside covered with yellow lilies. Faraway, there were few cottages. The photographer had taken the photo standing amidst those flowers. I always imagined jumping into that poster and being teleported to that exact spot. How would it feel to stand there? In the bottom right corner, this was written – “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind – Neil Armstrong”. Why was it there?

I liked the sounds of scissors, of water being sprayed, of heads getting massaged. Trimmers turned on and off with a loud click. There was the smell of talcum powder. Razor parted the white foam on people’s cheeks. Someone will enter the shop and realise there are many people waiting. They tell the barber, “I am in the queue” and go away. Barber nods and continues to cut hair.

I had to sit on a thick cushion as a kid. One fine day I was asked to sit without it. I felt like a grown-up.

If the barber wanted to cut my hair at the back of my head, he would gently nudge my head forward with his knuckles or with the tips of his fingers. If he wanted to cut my side, he would nudge the other way. In recent times that would be the only human touch I would experience for months.

Mother never allowed me to cut hair on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The other day I cut my hair on a Saturday. I could hear my grandmother yell at me in my head. I did it anyway.

Hopscotch Through Time

I was recently locked out of an account that I had not used for over nine years. I had to answer the security questions to reset the password. Which was the first beach you visited? I knew the answer. What was the name of your first pet? Easy. What is your dream job? I had no idea. Everything I entered was wrong. What was I thinking then? How was I so sure that the answer wouldn’t change over time?

I wanted to watch Titanic with my older cousins. I cried in front of the theatre. My mother dragged me away. A few days later, my uncle decided to take me. I sat behind him on his Vespa scooter. It rained on the way. We stopped at a roadside shop and put on our raincoats. That shop still stands.

During Deepavali, I had to make tough decisions. If I keep an oil lamp near the gate then I wouldn’t be able to keep one near the staircase. There were never enough lamps. The neighbour’s house was lit like a palace. The distance between the lamps on their terrace was so small. I had to place my lamps far apart so that they cover the whole terrace. We have enough lamps now, but I light one and call it a day.

I was talking to my mum over the phone. A famous saxophone player in my hometown had died. But she was hesitant to say the word ‘saxophone’ because it sounded like ‘sex’. She said, “You know that instrument?” I said, “Which instrument?” She lowered her voice and said, “Sax…saxophone.”

The shopkeeper used the word ‘embossed’ while describing a painting. It was not exactly a painting. Plastic was shaped to look like a framed canvas. The ‘painting’ was a picture of horses running over a dreamy landscape. They came out of the surface a little bit. Embossed. It was the first time I heard the word.

I sat on the bed watching my mother play with my 3-year-old niece. They were playing catch with a colourful inflatable ball. My mum tells me something that a cousin of mine had told her. The cousin had observed that my niece sometimes looked like my mother. The way she smiles, the way she carries herself while playing. There was so much resemblance. I looked at my niece to see if that was true. And for a brief moment, I imagined my mother as a 3-year-old, running around the house, asking people to play with her. Eyes lighting up when I throw the ball high up in the sky. Her crying for ice cream. I had a sudden urge to hug my 3-year-old mother, hold her close and tell her that everything is going to be okay.

I remember only the living rooms of houses. As I sip the tea offered by the hosts, I look through the curtains that separate the living room from the rest of the house. What lies beyond? Do they also use an old shirt to clean the kitchen counter? Do they have a Prestige mixer grinder? I wonder if they have a mosquito net over their bed.

India was playing an ODI cricket match in Sri Lanka. We needed a wicket. I went to my terrace and chanted a mantra. Took a second to figure out which was south and blew my prayer away in that direction. I believed that the winds will carry my wishes.

I did not know a clicking ballpoint pen had so many small parts inside until I was disassembling my father’s pen in anger. I threw the parts into the bushes beside the paddy field. He had promised that he would stop smoking but he did not follow through. Does he still remember that incident? When I left my previous job, a colleague gave me a blue and silver ball pen as a farewell gift. He always saw that pen in his teacher’s pocket. I lent it to students once. It never came back.

My younger self was scared of dying without doing all the things on my bucket list. I would have considered it a great tragedy if I died without cycling Iceland. Or without learning to play a musical instrument. But now I am okay not doing things. If I had only a day to live, I would sit in my room with a cup of tea and get on a call with people who I like. I would order ice cream from my favourite place. I will be okay even if the ice cream does not arrive on time.

Summer Pondering

My grandmother sat in the squat position holding her walking stick in one hand. She gazed at the areca nut palms and mumbled something about the yield. Cows grazed nearby. “Do you remember the day India got Independence?”, I asked. She remembered fireworks and people shouting in the streets. “What about school?” She remembered the teacher who taught her Math. I asked about her late husband. “He was a drunk and good for nothing”, she said and moved on to other topics.

It is sad to hear about the death of a person that I have not kept in touch with. It feels like a library burnt down and I did not get a chance to read its books.

My teacher listed, on the blackboard, all the things that we needed for the scout camp. I copied everything in my notebook. One of them was ‘nightclothes.’ My mother told me to just carry the normal clothes that I wear at home. But I pointed to the notebook and said that we need ‘nightclothes’, not normal home clothes. On the TV I had seen people wearing nightclothes. The shirt and pant had the same patterns. We went to the city. Searched multiple stores. Finally, I got what I was looking for. Both shirt and pant had blue and white stripes. At the camp, I saw that nobody was wearing ‘nightclothes’. Everyone wore the normal clothes they wear at home. I never wore it again. Recently while searching for something in the cupboard, I saw the nightclothes tucked away at the back.

My brother and I sat in the parked car beside the road. We were waiting for my mother who was shopping. There was a barbershop in the front. A familiar-looking guy with oily hair, gold-rimmed glasses and a paunch was cutting the hair. He walked with an air of solemnness that brought back many memories. He is the same guy who cut our hair when we were kids. That was more than two decades back. What does it take to do it for all these years?

We spent the beginnings of summer scouring the hillside, bare feet, in search of perfect bamboo to make wickets. We wrapped one side of the hacksaw blade with a cloth so that it’s easier to hold when we cut the bamboo. Smaller twigs became bails. We filled the kodapana from the well. And we played cricket. We played till we were not able to see the ball in the evening. When I reached home, my mother wouldn’t allow me inside the house because my legs were completely covered in dirt. It was as if I was dipped leg first into a bucket of clay. I had to wash my legs outside and then enter the house. My legs have a lot of dry skin and wrinkles now. I hopped once recently and my knee had pain for a whole day.

In the Kannada film Kaviratha Kalidasa, Rajkumar transforms from being a dimwit to an enlightened scholar after Goddess Kali writes the Om symbol on his tongue with a trishula. Whenever that scene came on TV, I come running to see it. Afterwards, I stood in front of the mirror with my tongue out, wondering if it was big enough to write Om. I could then have all the knowledge in the world.

Just a photo of toys hung for drying on my terrace

Tube Lights, Udders and Noses

I remember the hot Sunday afternoons. After gobbling fried Nang fish, we laze around in the front yard. The sky is blinding blue. A strong gust of wind sends seeds of the nearby tree twirling down. We try to catch it as they race to the ground. I hear a voice. Later I see the aluminium-utensil-studded TVL XL chugging along the road. He stops near the house to see if we needed any. Some of the utensils have tiny circular patterns with a mirror-like finish. I run my fingers over them and feel the textures change underneath. Smooth. Rough. Smooth again.

Back in the day when tube light was not working, it used to flicker for a long time. We danced under it. We imagined being at a club like the people on TV. Between moments of darkness, I see the smile on my brother’s face. His body is frozen in a weird dance position. I hear and see my cousins laughing. It is dark again.

With rapt attention, I listened to my grandmother. She spoke about things that happened many years ago. I sat on the floor. She was on the chair. On a Sunday her mother had told her to clean the udders properly else the cows would feel itchy. And the next Thursday her mother had passed away. Grandmother held her hand to her eye level to indicate the height of books my great-grandfather had. Meanwhile, in the background, Doordarshan was playing Shree Krishna. Disguised as a brahmin Lord Krishna was having a conversation with Barbarik. Sensing the threat he poses for the Pandavas in Kurukshetra, Krishna convinces Barbarik to donate his head. The program ends, credits roll and the title track plays in the background. Mom comes to switch off the TV. But she doesn’t turn it off. She stands beside the TV with an outstretched hand over the switchboard and waits until the song is over.

The other day I heard someone say how in their family people rarely hug. They hug only in extreme circumstances like when somebody dies. I could relate to that. I have never seen my parents or aunts or uncles hug anybody except babies. We never have explicitly told that we love each other. Even the thought of saying it feels unnatural. Love is expressed through food and favours. Last time I travelled home I came back with ground spices, salted Dharepuli and ginger garlic paste carefully enclosed in Banana leaves, tied not with threads but fibres from the banana plant.

After multiple days of festivities, my brother’s marriage was finally over. We came back from the function. I got into my home clothes. And sat on the porch steps. All the decorations had fallen and were being carried away with the wind. The flowers which were so fresh in the morning had started to lose its colour. Balloons were deflated. A few burst and only the remains hung on the wall. It was quieter. Mother prepared lime juice. All my aunties sat around the dinner table still wearing their shiny sarees. They discussed everyone who attended the ceremony – Her son is all grown up now. He looked so handsome! Oh yes… I saw her! She was wearing such a nice saree. It seems he got married and now they are in America. Who? Oh her! She did not come I guess. I did not see her. Ah right! Their parents are not well. How can they leave them at home and attend the wedding? You always need someone to look after them. So sad. Yes! Yes! I saw her too… She married outside the caste, right? True… The food was amazing. Did you eat the holige? Why didn’t you? It was right beside the ice cream! But they had put lots of ghee. They said he never found a good match. He has seen tons of girls. He likes nobody. That’s all he does… he meets them and says no. It seems they bought a new flat. I had gone there. They had a swimming pool and gym also! Oh… I had gone to their wedding. More than 1000 people had attended I think. So many items for lunch! Yes… I too observed it. She looked very sick. I didn’t ask her anything. What is this new fashion of growing beard and having long hair? It looks so ugly… True, she didn’t even look at me! She was so smug. I too didn’t care. Yes! That kid is so cute and so fair. It was so plumpy… But the nose is growing a little too fat. The mother should pinch it every day to make it thin. I had the same problem with my daughter. I kept pinching it. Look how is it now!

Thoughts on Turning 30

Coriander leaves stay fresh for up to a week if rinsed, dried, wrapped in kitchen towels and stored in airtight containers inside the fridge. This is the most useful piece of information in my life right now.

Early in the morning, the sunlight comes through my front door, spills over my bed, travels across the room, brightening everything with a golden glow while I prepare breakfast with bajil, for myself.

Last year’s thoughts make me cringe.

The other day I was sleeping over at a friends place. The bedroom was pitch dark in the night. I could not see my own hands. At that moment I had a strong urge to go back home and sleep on my bed, watching the Moon through the window.

I make sure to carry exact change in buses to avoid conductor yelling at me. When somebody talks to me with a raised voice it keeps reverberating in my head for a long time.

I still have few years of cycling left in me. Got to figure out how to cycle around Iceland soon.

In other parallel universes, I might be busy whistle-blowing corrupt politicians or working in a garment factory somewhere in rural India or finding an efficient and scalable way to produce freshwater from seawater or I might be a cashier in a bank whose future is uncertain or saving the Earth by devising ways to reverse the climate change or I might be a night-time security guard of a forgotten mall in the outskirts of the city. It is a fact that in all these universes, one thing will be common: a three-minute phone call from my mother, around 9.00 p.m, asking what did I eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Chairs are boring. It just sits there motionless. If I have to sit I have to come in front of it, place my butt in a specific orientation and then slowly put it on the chair. That’s no fun. Whereas, an exercise ball is so versatile. I can jump, bounce, roll, sleep, stretch, bend in all directions and also sit.

My ears perk up like a dog when I hear the horn of the garbage truck early in the morning. Key to happiness is a clean dustbin.

Behind the scene videos of The Office are so wholesome. Feels good seeing people laugh and having fun at work.

The days I feel low coincide with the days when the sun is not bright in the sky.

It feels nice to be able to control the fan speed, the volume of music, decide when to turn off the light or what to eat or what to wear.

How did my friends become my friends?

It’s so wonderful listening to people tell me that their life has been exceptional.

For many years I thought Satyajit Ray’s Panther Pachali is a strange name for a movie. I saw it finally and realised it’s Pather Panchali.

At the beginning of the documentary Supermen of Malegaon, an actor of independent films speaks about the role of movies in the life of a common man. People live their fantasies and get lost in the movies, even if it is for a short time.

When I was searching for a file in my PC I discovered my old downloaded music collection. There was a folder named ‘Devotional songs’. I stared at it for 3 seconds and deleted it.

I am writing this in my room. The room is located in Southern India which is on a floating rock in the Solar system. The solar system is in the Milky Way galaxy which is one among the billion other galaxies in the universe. Where is the universe? If somebody outside the Universe has to post a letter to someone inside the Universe, what address would they write?

My two-year-old niece asking her mother if ‘coyoonavayass’ has left or not, is my most-watched video in this lockdown.

I gasp every time a character on TV throws perfectly good food in the dustbin.

People ask what do I write about. I wish I could tell them I write hard-hitting commentary on the current social and political scenario of the country.

I am in my old college, walking past the playground. All the people I knew, at that time, are chilling beside the ground. They are forming teams to play cricket. After the toss, everybody scatters to take their positions. I am walking while drinking water from a bottle. With water still in my mouth, I run towards them. I want to play too. A friend of mine looks at me, gestures me to join his team. Still gulping the water slowly, I keep the bottle near the boundary and take my fielding position near the short-leg. The game starts and the ball comes to me. I fumble. They get an extra run. I wake up from the dream. I close my eyes with the hope that the dream continues. It’s too late.

My Pressure Cooker is Shinier Than Yours

There is a bloodstain on my ceiling. The one left after killing a mosquito. It is like a careless brushstroke. The brush wanders and the paint fades. When the brush is rotated a little, the paper catches the paint on the other side of the brush and the trail continues but broken. The stain almost resembles a hammerhead worm. I stand on a chair to take a closer look. Maybe it’s not blood. The red is too vivid. It’s paint. I wish to go back in time and witness the exact moment when this smudge was made.  I would also like to see the moment when the Coronavirus first entered a human body. It must have been a small, seemingly ordinary event.

Recently I moved to a new place. It’s the first time I am having a place of my own. With lockdowns looming ahead I thought it was best to set up the kitchen as soon as possible. One of the tabs in my browser was dedicated to pressure cooker research. There is so much to learn about them. It is made from different materials – Aluminium, Stainless steel and there is a hard-anodized one. There are inner and outer lids. Aluminium is a slightly better conductor of heat. Stainless steel is expensive but lasts longer.  How long should my pressure cooker last? 5 years? 10 years? Where will I be in 10 years? Will I be in the same city, doing the same things? Will I be carrying my cooker everywhere I go, packing it in cardboard boxes and loading it in trucks? I am not the person with just two suitcases anymore. Now I come with loads of cardboard boxes and a mattress. Finally, I bought a stainless steel cooker with an inner lid. After unboxing I admired it for 10 minutes. It was shiny.

After moving to the new place I realised, earlier whenever I was at home I have had too many clothes on me. I can do with a lot less. Maybe, none at all. When I get bored, I get up from my desk and stand in front of the mirror. New veins have popped near my temple. There is a growing patch of dry skin near my stomach. The ribs show through. “Look at your bony chest. Don’t you eat!” – my grandmother used to tell.

My room has large windows on three sides. It becomes bright in the afternoons. The clothes which are hung for drying flutter on faraway terraces.

Some evenings I lie on the bed. The light fades outside and it’s dark. Neither asleep nor fully awake, I am somewhere in between. I don’t want to get up and switch on the light. I continue lying on the bed.

Memories of Food

I remember rains the most. The constant patter on the red-tiled roof. Water flows down like a curtain of sparkling beads. Everything is blinding green. The wetness is intoxicating. It has seeped into my skin, embedded in my bones. And it has never left me since. I walk to the bus stop wearing plastic sandals which bite into my ankles. As I walk the sandals flick muddy water from behind and my school uniform gets stained. The oil on the road mixes up with water and creates rainbow colours. Every gush of wind overturns the umbrella. My stomach is full. Hot dosas smeared with ghee, sprinkled with sugar along with a cup of tea makes my stomach feel funny. I would reach school all wet and cold.

My mother makes amazing sardine fish curry. I eat hot neer dosas in the room adjacent to the kitchen. The room had a light but we did not turn it on, to save electricity. Spicy fish curry with sips of hot sweet tea in between the bites. Sometimes I sip the tea halfway while I am chewing. The tea mixes with the dosa in my mouth which gives it a whole new flavour.

Sunday morning everyone would sit in front of the TV during breakfast watching Bollywood songs. I had a favourite chair which I always place near the pillar. I liked to eat dosa as soon as it is taken out of the pan with a pinch of sugar sprinkled all over. I would walk to the kitchen, get the dosa, sit in front of the TV, finish the dosa, go back to get another and repeat the cycle. At times in the song, if Sharuk Khan gets too intimate with Kajol, I feel some tightening in my pants. I would get embarrassed. I would then stare at the fan above to make it go away.

Twice or thrice a year father would visit. Mom would mention the dates. I would keep looking at the calendar in the living room. On the day of arrival, I keep glancing through the window to see if he has come. Suddenly I see him pass and I would run to the door. He is standing there, smiling. He used to get pedas. It would have half-cut almonds perfectly blended with the shape of the peda.

After school, I get down from the bus and turn towards the grocery shop. If I felt rich I would decide to buy something. I would cross the street and call out “Uncle!” Eyes take time to adjust to the darkness. After a while beyond the glass jars filled with biscuits, I see the old shopkeeper moving. I ask for the packet of chips. He asks, “Which one?” I see the progression of sizes of chips packet. My eyes linger at the largest chips packet. “Give me the smallest one”, I say. One day when I earn a lot I would buy the biggest one and eat it all by myself. I would walk back home feeling the crunch of every single bite. Once empty, I would open up the packet to lick the salts stuck in the corners. Recently Mom informed me the shopkeeper passed away. A new house has come up in its place.

One day someone got noodles. The kids on the TV were laughing, smiling and happy when eating this. Our mothers were discussing in the kitchen. Nobody knew how to make this. After some time they figured it out. They added last night’s leftover chicken curry to it. I was a little heartbroken as it was not the same colour as it was on TV. But then I ate it. It was the best thing I had ever eaten.

A distant uncle of mine used to get us chocolates every time he visited. One chocolate bar to every kid. Each of us kept it in a different corner in the fridge so that we don’t confuse each other’s chocolate bars. We would take a whole week to eat it. Every bite was counted for. We had discussions on how much is left of our bar. When it’s done I would take the golden wrapper, flatten it out using scissors and keep it inside a book and wait for the next one.

My first kind of mother-approved binge eating was the panchakajjaya or the prasad they gave in a temple near my house. I urge my mother to get extra packets of those if she visits the temple.

I would peak through the crowd to catch a glimpse of God’s idol in the sanctum sanctorum. An old lady wants to stay for a long time looking at the idol but the guard ushers her away to make way for other people. I tug my mother’s saree every two minutes and ask when is lunch. Somehow time never seems to pass when you are a bored kid. After a long wait in the queue, finally, we are seated with banana leaf in front of us. Rice would arrive first. I dig a small hole in the heap of rice for sambar. When the sambhar arrives I mix it with a small portion of rice, almost always burning my hand in the process. Thoughts about God and religion has been changing constantly but thoughts about food have remained the same.

The other day I paused the movie I was watching. I thought I heard my mother call me for dinner. I realized I am not in my home.

Thoughts on Turning 29

29 feels the same. I have to remember to put the correct age when booking bus tickets. Which reminds me – I have to travel more.

The physical education teacher who I liked the most in school was 29.

The other day, a friend of mine ran his hand over my hair and said that my hairline is receding. I replied with a hmmm. I wish I was in a relationship when I looked younger. Also, there is a tendency to run away when people talk about relationships.

After servicing, my cycle feels new. It cost me a bomb. When I gave it for servicing, the guy at the shop was shocked. It was in bad shape. He could not believe I was able to ride it without falling. He said if I don’t take care of my body, one day it will break down. It’s the same with cycle. At that moment I thought, am I taking care of my body every day?

Curd doesn’t repulse me anymore. I cook curd rice a lot because it’s so easy and healthy. Thoughts of excelling in cooking are taking a backseat. No time. Also, ghee makes everything tasty

The items on my bucket list have a lot of cycling involved. If I don’t do it now when will I do it?

I look forward to my evening tea after work. It’s the time I breathe a little. And notice the sounds around me. Nothing else exists. Just the tea and I.

The Tiramisu ice cream I am eating is depositing itself around my belly. My pants are getting tighter. My pants are getting older too. There are a few holes in my pockets. Have my students observed that I wear only one set of pants?

There is always a nagging thought that I can do better at work. Whatever I am doing is not enough. I need to think hard about my career and my growth.

Cycling in the night is the best. The lights. The sound of vehicles on the road. The wind.

I have never had a room of my own. The thought of having a place which I can call mine sounds enticing now.

I tried reading The Grapes of Wrath. I couldn’t continue. Maybe I was not in a good state of mind. I let it go for now. Strangely I am okay with it.

The idea of not having a kid of my own is liberating.

My mother recently learnt how to text. She wished me ‘Happy birthday’. It feels weird because she has never said it in words before.

It scares me that I might end up with someone only because I would hate the feeling of being alone slightly more than loving the other person.

The idea of living in the countryside doesn’t excite me anymore. I want to live amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. I want to see the city lights from my window.

How much I earn is important now. Switching to a lower-paying but a better job would be harder than it was before.

Movies (or TV series) are like books. I like to own a copy of a good movie on my computer. I re-watch the scenes I like. I quote them in real-life conversations.

The other day I bought a hair conditioner for the first time. I did not know how to use it. I still think it’s not worth the investment. Coconut oil before shampoo works the same.

I am starting to cherish the phone conversations with friends. People can’t stay near forever. They move on. I need to find ways to stay connected.

There may not be a better state of mind or body. Maybe there is. It’s not black and white. I need to find peace in the in-between.

Stories that Never Happened

I was reading The Bell Jar the other day. I was at home. Sprawled across the sofa after lunch. Mother had made fish curry. She sat beside me reading the paper which kept fluttering because of the fan. I did not want to turn it off. It was hot.

The protagonist in the book, Esther Greenwood, is in a dilemma. She did not know what to do with her life. She saw her life branching out like a fig tree. From the tip of every branch, a wonderful future beckoned like a fat purple fig. One fig was a husband, a happy home and children. Another fig was a famous poet, another a brilliant professor, an amazing editor and so on. She was not able to decide which to choose. Choosing one means losing all the rest. Ester was learning shorthand. But she doesn’t see herself working in a job which makes use of it. I remembered my mother was learning shorthand at some point in her life. I turned to her and asked, “Mum, Do you remember shorthand?” She smiled a little and tried to recall. She didn’t remember. She had gotten married. She chose her fig.

Once I came back home running from school, after winning a Table Tennis tournament. I told my mother. She was making masala paste, in the huge stone grinder, sitting on the floor. She paused her work, turned to me and smiled. That’s nice, she said. Now go do your homework, she said. I love to see athletes winning medals for the country. I love to see them cry. Sometimes I watch only the winning moments. I love to see them happy. I watch with wonder when they stand on the podium with pride as the National anthem plays and the flags rise up. It’s nice to see them run on the ground, celebrating. And I think what would have happened if I had continued playing Table tennis.

I wonder if it is easy to open up and have a meaningful conversation with strangers. To tell them your deepest fears. To let it all out and never see them again. In the waiting lounges of bus stations or common areas of backpacker hostels, I could have struck a conversation with someone. I could have told him/her how sometimes I feel incompetent to do my job. Some days I feel like I don’t know many things. How I fear I might lose my job, not earn anything and have no place to live. I can tell them how the people around me have affected my thinking. How I had no control over my life. How I wish my Dad would appreciate what I do at work. And for once be okay with my decisions. I can tell how all my life I have suppressed feelings. How I never told anybody I liked them or how I never showed love in any form to people. How I ran away from being close to them. How I see some parts of the movie again just to cry. Or feel something. And how I wish the stranger could have told me I am wrong about many things. How I am blaming others for my own shortcomings. How I need to stop being hard on myself. How most of them feel the same things as me.

And I can listen to their life. All the decisions they have taken that have brought them to this point in their lives. I want to know about the time they felt really happy. And really sad. How they get up every morning and go through life. How they are okay with themselves. I want to know all the ways they love themselves and others. The times they got their hearts broken. When they didn’t want to get up in the morning. When they were not able to sleep at night. What have they compromised on? I want to converse late into the night. Sipping cold coffee. But we did not do any of those. We remained strangers. Busy with our mobiles. And now I revel with the stories that never happened.