What? Okay then let’s get to it quickly.
What? Okay then let’s get to it quickly.
So, I’m quite certain that I shouldn’t send this email because you’ll probably think that I’m a crazy person and kick me to the curb, but oh well. I’m bored and can’t sleep due to waking up about an hour ago thanks to a lovely dream wherein you made yet another appearance in the theatre of my mind.
I am not the type who places any stock in dreams, or thinks that they have any deep meaning. More likely it’s just my brain struggling to make sense of all the random shit that I conjure up during the day in this boiling cauldron that is my subconscious.
This dream however, was interesting, in the sense that I don’t recall having any thought about this certain subject in relation to you, at least not in a very long time. Its been more like I’ve just assumed the combo of our rapidly advancing ages, your aspirations, and our apparent contentment with being alone would make this an impossibility, so I haven’t even bothered to contemplate it. Yet, there you were, carrying my baby.
The first flash of you in such a state was of some intimate moment between the two of us, each laying on our sides, facing each other in a bed I didn’t recognize. We were naked, but it wasn’t a sexual thing. More so it was the comfortable nakedness that only two longtime lovers could share. We were laying there, simply talking, as our heads rested on our respective pillows. For some reason it was hard to take our eyes off of each other as we talked, maybe there was just no other place worth looking in our minimalistic themed bedroom? Or perhaps our respective faces were the best possible thing we could each imagine getting to drink in to start the day? I know for me, yours has always been better than a cup of coffee. Although, for you….I know you’d definitely choose your Morning Joe over my mug every single time. Nonetheless, drink we did.
The Saturday morning light sliced through a crack in our bedroom curtains and lit up your smile even more so than usual. Now, I don’t remember what inane topic we were babbling on about, but what is important is that as you smiled, I laughed, and while doing so I reached my left hand out and placed it on your side, resting on that smooth curve just below your ribs that leads ever so gracefully towards your hips. My fingers gently traced their way down your silky skin, and it was suddenly quiet, save for the chirping of some random bird in our backyard. You still looked into my eyes, you still smiled, but your topic of conversation had faded away into irrelevance, you placed your right hand on mine and gently moved it down towards your swollen navel.
“Feel her?” You said, “She’s kicking again, this one is gonna be fiesty.”
“So, just like her mom then?” I replied, with a smirk.
And then I awoke.
His hands shook as he took a cigarette out of the crumpled boxed. His fingers, worn and covered in liver spots, were surprisingly delicate; a strange juxtaposition, when compared to his rough, low voice, even, despite the urgency of his tone. Their imperceptible tremble was highlighted by the way the cigarette shook between his nicotine stained fingertips. He looked quite unlike his usual self. Unsure, and shaken up, he looked like a man who didn’t quite know what to do with his limbs. His shoulders hunched forward, and elbows stuck out at an angle that couldn’t possibly have been comfortable, but he sat just like that, crouched on the sidewalk.
“Yeah, yeah I am. I think so.”
He handed the cigarette over to her, and picked one out for himself. He kept a ‘lucky’ one, she noted with amusement as she saw the tobacco peak out of the neat little rows of white filters. She wouldn’t have taken him for a man who believed in any superstition, but then, what did she really know? A sudden shiver ran down her spine as she suddenly realized what had just happened. Her shoulders tightened against her will, and she rolled them to ease the sudden pain. Her cheap, flowly jacket rustled against his arm, and she saw him twitch. But he didn’t move away. Another surprise from the man she’d never thought could surprise her.
“Would you like me to move?”
“We just survived a goddamned earthquake. I think I can survive you sitting next to me.”
She laughed. A hearty, loud laugh, quite unlike the airy giggle he reserved for her customers. It was an unwarranted sound considering their surroundings. A collapsed building, a tree uprooted, resting on a car, and people milling around, looking as dazed as he felt. Some looked at them now, annoyance clear on their faces. He didn’t say a word. Just signaled with the lighter he held in his hand, and she leaned in, cigarette between her pursed red lips. A deep drag later, she exhaled, the smoke from her mouth mingling with his.
He grunted back. Forty years of working at the store. His store. And he had never encountered a whore quite like her. Most stopped working the corner near his in a week or two after they first stepped into the store, and there she was. Back, every night. She always bought the same thing. A pack of lights and a bottle of water. She walked up to the counter with a flounce and arrogance that infuriated him, and smiled as she paid. He knew her smile as intimately as he knew his own, perhaps. Open mouthed, with a chipped front tooth, with a little bit of lipstick gone astray. He knew it well enough to hate it.
She was incorrigible. With her loud makeup, large hair, and clothes that felt like they were created to provoke his anger, not other men’s desire, she was an antithesis of him. He took pride in his near-punishing austerity. Faded blue shirt, faded brown pants with their pleated ironed out, and faded black loafers. He liked being slightly dull. Just slightly wane. He liked to think he represented himself well, with his calm, uneventful life.
And yet, he found himself sitting on a curbside with the prostitute he hated, sharing a cigarette after an earthquake.
He took a last, final drag and stubbed it against the pavement, letting the filter roll off into the gutter. Moving slowly as he got up, he dusted himself off and leaned against a lamppost for support. He suddenly felt old. Older than he had in years. Older than what he felt when his wife died. Older than himself. He scanned the front of his store for any obvious damage. None. He’d probably have to pick up things that fell off the shelves, though. He sighed at the thought. Too old. Too old for this.
As he shuffled towards the door, he heard the clacking of her heels. It was a sound he knew only too well, for it had been discomfiting him for years now, at exactly 9:30pm every night. He turned to her suddenly, causing her to trip and totter as she regained her balance.
“What the fuck do you want?”
“Well. It’s time for my lights and water.”
She smiled at him. Open mouthed, with a chipped front tooth, with a little bit of lipstick gone astray.
And for the first time in the four years of their torrid acquaintance, his lips twitched slightly.
Had I not been pursuing a degree in Electronics, I’d have aggressively pursued sociology. Well, the fun parts of it anyway.
I’m a people-watcher. I love to study them, the way they move, their quirky, inexplicable habits. Trying to capture these details with my own body is my way of immersing myself in the study of people and of society and is one of my favorite parts of being an actor. And it is for these reasons that I just adore watching office folk.
Last week, in a very surreal turn of events, situation made me visit my uncle’s office, which I long since craved and everytime denied. An imposing building right beside LalBazaar Police Station, it stood tall withstanding the test of time, the red plaster now hardly visible. Scrutinizing the details, I walked into the office which absolutely took me by surprise. The transformation startled me. Outside it was the classical Indian office in its most primitive form, and just inside the gates was an office flooded with every imaginable modern amenity from dazzling wallpapers draping from the walls to free food counters to water purifiers to capsule LED-lit elevators!
I was continually amused by the society that had been created there. I was an outsider – the likes of Jane Goodall – throwing myself into a world to live amongst these creatures and to study their interactions.
One of my favorite parts of the office is Elevator Space Relations. This is true in any elevator scenario with more than one person, but I find it particularly interesting at the office.
I was heading down from the top floor to buy some snack and joined the 2pm elevator party just after a particularly high-level executive. Before we got on, however, he did me the good service of pretending to be interested in how I was today and I did the same for him. I told him I was good and he told me he was good. This is another fun one for me, because let’s face it: when anyone asks that question who isn’t your best friend or family member, they don’t really want an honest answer. I totally felt like junk today. I came in to the office because my uncle promised me a treat from Zeeshan, a food joint, a promise he’d long since been evading to fulfil. When he asked how I was, an honest answer would have been something like, “Oh, I’ve been better. My head was a giant, disgusting hot air balloon filled with evil pixies smacking their wands on my frontal lobe and making it through this day was no small feat but I was too afraid to call off and look like a flake.”
Something told me that would have made the last 10 floors even more awkward.
And so we stood in silence – the entire time from the top of the building to the bottom. There’s only so long one can stare at the blinking number at the top of an elevator before they feel like an idiot! It’s like we all got together one day and decided that there wasn’t enough time between point A and point B on an elevator and that since no one knows how many people may join on the way up or down, there is little possibility for discussion outside of the weather and the number of days ’til Friday. So we just stopped talking altogether.
My next favorite thing is how beautifully people will align themselves in an elevator. It’s like one big spatial relations puzzle. Every time someone new enters the picture, people in the elevator, without talking or making eye contact, will naturally work together to adjust themselves so that they leave as much room for a personal bubble as possible for everyone involved.
It’s like the bathroom stall game, where if there are three and the nearest one has someone in it, you go to the far one. Who made up these rules?
I’ll admit, I like to rebel. Sometimes when someone asks me how I am, I actually tell them. And sometimes, I actually follow-up when they lie and tell me they’re good just to see if I can shake a human answer out of them. Furthermore, I sometimes make people uncomfortable by choosing the stall directly beside them.
I get myself through my day with these little games. I’ll admit that just a few days ago there were 3 people joining me on an elevator ride whilst one of my puja shopping sprees at a local mall and I didn’t move from my space. Yes, I felt the air thick with anticipation. I felt their discomfort with the fact that there was not even spacing between the 3rd and 4th temporary members of the steel ride society but I was comfortable and deemed that everyone had an adequate amount of room. And then an amazing thing happened: everyone else adjusted to me.
I felt powerful. I felt like an elevator god, directing human traffic with my mind. I was the awkward T shaped Tetris piece and everyone had to start a new row to adjust for my addition to the stack. It was glorious.
I think I’ll start to use these powers for my rise in human society. I will be the immovable force around which others must accordingly adjust themselves. And slowly but surely, I will make my way to the top of this stupid world. One awkward elevator ride at a time.