I can't remember one sound. I can only vaguely remember a few pictures. I'm not sure if the world is in slo mo, or if being alone has the incredible power to put the world on mute. I remember getting dressed and walking to the mall. And then I remember nothing.
Is it really possible to be alone when you're surrounded by hundreds of people? Because it's the same place I've gone to several times with friends, and it hasn't seemed anywhere like this. There are always things you remember seeing. Things you're compelled to make fun off. Pass a comment on someone who has no bearing to your life whatsoever. But your friends and you laugh anyway. I've spent countless hours on the steps of Jai Hind college with some of my closest friends, just people gazing. And yet, when you're abundant on people and few on friends...the equation ceases to exist.
Here I am...alone in the middle of this crowd. The sound of the woman making announcements is just a hazy soundtrack. The earnest pleas of a 9 year old...promising his mum "i'll never ask for anything if you buy me this..", the numerous 'may i help you's ' that come my way. I instinctively pass the offer. Moving ahead pretending to know the exact location of what i want at Spencers. I pick things I don't need. Fill the basket, I'm not sure why i'be picked up. The realisation makes me return the jar of pasta sauce in my hand. I don't cook.
I head to the vegetable aisle. I could ask the home deli guy to send in fresh vegetables that my maid will use, but picking up things from the mall might gimme the illusion of a) having a purpose and b) fulfilling it. I'm pulling out plastic bags from the dispenser. I'm throwing in capsisum, corn, lemons.... some cucumber because I might like a brown bread sandwhich tomorrow. I'm amused by the 2.99/ 250 gms tag on the cabbage. I'm not sure if i like cabbage, i pick it up anyway. I go around the area twice...i do recall returning a smile. Not someone i know... but here's the thing. That's the only thing i remember about another human being from this evening. It meant absolutely nothing to me then. But as i write this, that's the only thing thats coming back strongly....
And i think i partly know, why i feel so hollow each time i go to the mall, and come back loaded with things I'm not sure where i'd even put. It's all to do with the gaze. Mine is either too high...or too low. but never perfect to catch people's eye. I'm looking high, reading the names of the stores. I'm looking low, maybe, to move my heavy bags from one arm to another. If i bump into somone, the 'sorry' comes out with little or no co-operation from my eyes. Lesser still, from the heart.
I walk back home. Traffic at a standstill. I'm moving forward. I dodge the rickshaw....i look up at a new billboard. I meet a guy at my elevator i've never seen before, we both say hello. He gets off on the fourth floor. I wait my turn to get off at the sixth. I open the door to my house... back in an empty place i call home. Knowing fully well that i've waited one whole week to get a day off. and now i cant wait to go to work that i dont even enjoy anymore... I promise myself that I'm going to be positive because life has wonderful things in store for me. I believe that too... only, i'm not seeing them yet.