Posted: 10 February 2010 at 9:41pm
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Another one. Nothing related to the previous, just something that came when I was idling with my pen, trying to write quite something else - oh well! (The phrase elected silence was coined by a Trappist Monk, Thomas Merton. And i read of it recently somewhere, ever since it has stuck!)
I saw him again today. His chair alongside the glass window which covers half of the wall it is framed in, overlooking the lane between opposite rows of houses. Three storey houses, for the most - its norm in this city for non commercial constructions, and as my dad tells me, also in accord with legal procedures set by the State Dept. This window by the way, that he looks out of, is on the top floor of its house.
It was 8AM then, the usual start of my day when I come into the kitchen to grab myself some breakfast. And everyday, it was the same sight. He was always sitting right there, in the chair, looking out. A floor beneath his own a girl with waist length hair is also always, as if by rule, walking to and fro in her balcony, talking on her cellular. I asked my mother once, soon after I had moved into my parents' house, if it was just me who always seemed to spot her at such times. No, my mother had replied, she is indeed on the phone as many times as I see her. Oh well!
Returning to him. I stood some extra seconds just looking at him. At one point it even seemed as if he was looking right back. Like honestly, I could see his eyes precisely, and they happened to be on me. It surprised me, for between us was the entire width of two front porches plus the lane, and heightwise we were separated by a couple of storeys. Strange it was indeed, that it felt like we had shared a look. As always, I moved my gaze away. I have this weird thing, I can't stand looking people in the eye even momentarily. When I share this fact with friends or kin, they find it absurd - I'm generally supposed to be a confident, unnerved sort of girl, and this trait is of lesser, fidgety mortals.
Anyways, so I finally walk away, carrying a loaf of onion-garlic toast and a cup of water. Milk, I absolutely loathe. Coffee, I'm trying to get rid of. Tea, I suppose I could have some, but then, water is definitely the healthier of options. From this last comment, I would not mean for you to believe I'm a health freak of some kind. In fact, in all honestly, I'm as far from it as can be. Yes, I like fruits and veggies, but I'm a junkie no less. And a consistent muncher in between the three meals. And a die hard chocolate, ice cream fan. Who isn't, in their rightful mind?
So, after getting over with the formality of this breakfast in under a hundred seconds round about, I return my trays to the wash sink - the maid comes in sometime later in the forenoon - and as if out of an instinct I did not plan, my eyes go back up to the window. He is sitting there, as I know he always is, and looking down to the lane.
Someday, when I'm motivated enough, I shall seek to know of him, first hand, how it is possible for him to follow that routine, hour after hour, day after day. Somewhere inside in the back of my head, I almost know its a bleak chance I will go as far to know the answer. Still, the sight of him intrigues me. And after I'm out of this kitchen and return to my routine for the day, I don't dwell in thoughts of the same. But every morning when I find him there, it makes me think. Generally, I'd think it was one of those unchanging things around you - like them aging trees, or the cinema hall which is a lane off our own. And in that sort of permanence, I daresay should be a comfort. Except, thats not it. In some way, its depressing to find him there every morning.
Inevitably, my mind delves in speculations about why it is so. Why there is never anyone with him to share a tea, or a chat. Why he isn't reading a morning paper, or watching news, or on a call ... or anything else. It makes me then explore the obvious possibilities in response - maybe he has some medical condition. Maybe its just him in that entire top floor apartment. Maybe, its a statue?
I'm wandering into weird realms to explain, and its not making much sense, I admit. The point is, I wish I didn't have to see him there every morning. And realistically, I don't have to. I can well mind my eye and keep it away. But I can't seem to do that.
I look up at him, again. And nothing has altered, except, I'm glad, it doesn't seem like he is looking at me. Then suddenly, as if he can sense my gaze (which should be impossible, given the physical distance between us, as I described before) his eyes turn back to me. Or so I feel. Again, I avert my gaze. And then just as abruptly, I look back. On an impulse, a weird one that I have absolutely not planned, and certainly can't explain, I wave out to him.
A second passes by. Then another. Its a strange disappointment, I feel, on getting no response, when on the contrary it should have been relief. After all that did imply he wasn't looking at me, that it was only a trick of my mind.
He smiles. I swear on this second of my life, he smiled. There was no mistaking. Still, to ascertain, I wasn't imagining, and that it was for me if it was real, I wave again - even smiling this time before knowing so - and his smile widens.
Its crazy that I should be able to observe such details as the widening of his smile, or the forming of something like craters where dimples should be in his sunken cheeks, but I can and I do. With a strange satisfaction, after a second or two, I walk out of the kitchen to start my day. I can't word for you exactly what has changed, but something has. Something so much, that I'm looking forward to seeing him by that window tomorrow morning, already...
Edited by scarlett.lady - 11 February 2010 at 10:56pm
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