Monday, June 05, 2006

I meet you every now and then, and never know what to say to you. Usually I know the bare skeleton of your life : your education, your parents' names, your job, one or two photographs of you. Usually we both know that our horoscopes match well enough for us to meet.

But none of this makes for good conversation. Because in the back of our minds, we're both frightened of being rejected. We both know that if we like the other too much, and then if the other rejects us, it might leave us in a bind. So we're afraid to smile too much, to talk about anything other than current events or our recent pasts. Pasts are safe to talk about; they will not change if we're rejected. The future, however, composed of jobs and houses and lives together, changes every time I meet a different you; so it is dangerous to talk about it. We venture only diffidently, step by step, into that territory.

So many times, I've wished I knew what made you laugh, what made you happy. So many times, I thought that even if we aren't fated to be together, I ought to leave you happy, leave you feeling good about yourself. Everyone deserves to feel that way once in a while. But if I knew how to master that secret weapon, I would have used it on the dozens of pretty girls I've fallen for at one time or the other; perhaps we wouldn't be meeting like this, again and again and again.

So often, I've wished to reassure you, when you spoke of some sadness you've passed through in your life; divorce or death or loss or loneliness or failure; wished to reach out and hold your hand and say to you that it won't always be like that, that there will be happiness soon, whether from me or from the next me you meet. But I don't know how to say that, either, without venturing into the dangerous territory of futures.

Every time I was asked, "What do you want?", I've wanted to say, "I want a good friend who loves me," but, fearing that would sound too selfish, have replied vaguely with adjectives like intelligent, homely, balanced, and that dreadful catchall, understanding. And we both nod at each other, both knowing that the answer made no sense, nor was it expected to.

My best friends are those that have known me for years; how do I show myself a loyal friend, a good companion, a nice guy, in the few minutes, the few questions-and-answers that we have together? How can one distil a personality into a questionnaire? Who knows what demons keep me awake at night, what daydreams you have when you wait in queues? Who knows, then, that we might be perfect for each other, yet are rejecting each other because of a hunch, a feeling, a gesture of the hands? Is it not safer, though, to let a hundred perfect matches slip through than to allow one mismatch?

But is that all we can be? Matches, mismatches? Not friends, pals, acquaintances? There's only a binary answer to our meeting : Match or mis-. Let us, then, forgive each other in advance for being critical, for silently imagining our possible futures without ever speaking of then, and look beyond them.

All that we speak of, possible lives, careers, homes, are built on the days, hours, moments, that we might spend together. Moments such as this sampler, single-serving moment that we've been given now. Let's not grasp this moment as if it were the last we have, let us treat it instead as the first of many, and see if we like it better that way. Let's talk about the movie we saw on TV yesterday, about that funny man at the next table, about the pranks we played on our grandfathers. Let's not drown this moment in heaviness.

Wasn't Aamir Khan funny in Andaz Apna Apna?


Samrat said...

Profoundly written. I can well understand the predicament, though I have not gone through it.

Anonymous said...

Sahi hai suud..Visited your blog after a long time. Well written.
Keep writing.


Zero said...

Beautifully written!

Bindu said...

Well written! Yes, Aamir Khan was very funny in Andaz apna apna. It's one of my favorite movies!

Matter Mahadevan said...

That was wonderflly written. Gone through some of it :).