Picture Perfect, Eh?

That’s what we all want!

When you wake up in the morning and realize that today is going to be no different from rest of the days, what drives you out of your bed? Undoubtedly, sleep doesn’t let go that easy. It’s like being under a spell. Cocoon-ed like an unborn baby in the womb, you fear severing the invisible cord that feeds the demons in your dreams. You dread the moment you wake up, for you will have to fight for your existence more than live your life. When this happens with me, I usually find a good reason to leave the warmth of my bed. Or occasionally, I keep that ‘reason’ on my bedside table.

It was a damp morning. I squinted my eyes shut when I saw the bright light falling on my face. No, it wasn’t the sun. It was the tube light, Courtesy: Mother! I twisted around for some time when a pungent odor of daal tadka flared my nostrils ablaze. It’s not a great feeling, I reckon! I welcomed the torrent of thoughts, roller-coasting its way down my nose and eyes. I rolled a ball of gooey nose crumb and chucked it off the side of my bed. I felt the bourgeoisie side of me taking over. Bleary-eyed, I looked around the room. It was the same as it was the day before. I looked at my table and saw an old copy of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ lying carelessly upon a saucer plate. It took me less than 2 seconds to go back to my supine position. But then I realized that I still didn’t know what Atticus had been hiding from Scout and Jem. I had a reason. I got up.

Life wasn’t throwing any curve balls since I returned back from college. I landed a job in the technical field doing content writing. Yeah! It’s like getting turkey for thanksgiving and ending up eating Mexican (just because you like it more). I became a popular target for virtual relatives and well-wishers, who deemed this decision stupid and a good waste of my precious engineer time. I overlooked them. My parents told me it is a phase, and it shall soon pass, after which I will realize the importance of undertaking a profession which puts food on the table. I overlooked them too. While I was trying to develop a sense of everything, one question kept popping:

‘What’s the next step?’

‘Empty your bowels’, replied one of my organs.

It’s not that I am against it, but one shouldn’t keep a tab on when or how many times a person excuses himself in a day. I was on call this morning. Might be rolling tomorrow evening. No big deal! After I completed my morning rituals, I left for work. It’s a forty-five minute journey to my workplace. Metro is the preferred choice because of peak-hour traffic. There was nothing special about this day apart from the fact that my boss wanted me to be early for a project. I climbed the stairs towards the platform and stood at my usual place – the one near the platform guardrail overlooking the road below. The sun shone bright, its light fending off the raised platform structure, making a semi-circular arch in front of me. I tiptoed around it. It burnt! I felt reluctant to board the Metro and more inclined to catch a morning drink at MRP Cafe. I sighed! The train arrived at the platform that very moment and I walked away from the semicircle of natural life into a locomotive teeming with human life.

I was standing on the left side of the aisle, facing the large window panes, contemplating the blueness of horizon, when I took the book out of my backpack. With my left hand on the grab-handle and the book in my right hand, raised to my chest level, I dug deeper into the Golden edition of Harper Lee. I was engrossed into Jem’s explorations when I saw a pair of eyes looking intently at the book title. They looked askew owing to the ugliness morning brings into people sometimes. A cross between sleep deprivation and agoraphobia. Despite of that, she sat solemnly, with her ginger colored curls bouncing off her shoulder blades every time the train applied brakes. She was wearing no makeup but kajal (if it counts for makeup). This distinct outline below the most alluring feature of the human face is the reason why I still believe in beauty. I remembered something and smiled. Before 15 seconds, she was just another metro commuter, travelling to work, living her life. But now, in my head, she had already reserved a small place who kept waiting to be read, like ink ready to be poured on paper. She noticed me smiling and looked away. Afraid that I might lose the flow, I dug into the trial of Tim Robinson. Halfway through it, I realized that the clear blue horizon was filled with specks of colored rectangular objects flying high, marking their territory in the blue sky, whooshing loudly against the air, maneuvered by skilled craftsmen.

If people were kites, I wonder who would be there at the other end.

I came out of my reverie when train applied breaks and jerked me forward. Stumbling towards a fall, I grabbed hold of an arm (So much for wanting to be a kite). I didn’t realize it first but when I regained balance and looked at the owner of the arm, I saw the same set of eyes looking back at me.

‘‘Sorry’’ was all that came out of mouth. She smiled back and asked me if I knew about the author of the book.

‘’Harper Lee’’, I replied.

‘‘Oh! Is it a he or a she?’’, she said with a frowning brow.

‘‘The same that you are’’, I said casually.

She gave a crooked smile. Still, I never left her eyes. What’s her story, figure it out! She was dressed smartly – a crisp pantsuit, heels and shoulder length hair which formed ringlets as she bobbed her head. I was about to ask her name when she waved me goodbye and disembarked the train.

Let’s establish one thing first. People – bad or good, long for company in one way or the other.

They bring you inside their bubble of life. They tell you things and you tell them things back. You tend to do the same things at the same time. You can label it as frivolously as you want.

In the end, it is just an eternal barter system. For me, it was simple, remove the word eternal for ever.

But time changed and I understood that I can’t. No sane person can. So my thoughts swiveled around the idea of an ideal person to barter with. The image it formed resembled someone who could accompany me to social gatherings, festivals, and friends’ place without losing my interest. That’s it! I am still in active search.

All I wanted to ask this kajal-clad girl was if she was the one. Not so difficult right? But she left! And that broke my middle-class heart.

As I turned my attention back to Scout’s explorations in the school play, I looked through the window again. This time, all I could see were the demons of my dreams hovering over the small rectangular objects with a menacing paleness about them. And they started to pee. Tree branches jutted in two as wind howled against their thick trunks. Puddles formed tributaries and joined with the flea-infested sewer lines that flooded the roads. It was a meticulously constructed chaos. Like the demons knew where and when it hurt the city more, and more importantly, its people, me! As the blue horizon drifted away in a hazy blur, my destination boomed above through speakerphones. I heaved a long sigh and made my way into the storm, half filled with remorse and ready to go into the battlefield.

I was the first one to office. I thought I had a project today! People filled in slowly while I contemplated the chances of a holiday. By the next hour, everyone occupied their respective seats. I was still waiting on my boss when someone knocked at the door. It was the kajal-clad girl.

Chaos at its best!!!

Kartik Dulloo

Growth Hacker | E&C Engineer | Spell-Bee Runner up | Part Grammar Nazi, Part Grammar Hippy | Failing Anglophile

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