At The Edge Of Sunshine

on Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I mugged up this line when I was 11. Partly because my favorite teacher reiterated it time and time again, and partly because I found it fancy and inviting at my age. "Life is like a bus. People come and people go, but the bus does not stop. It keeps going on and on and on." Seems like a simple thought at present. Simple enough to not even have any significance.

Why am I thinking about it then? Perhaps because something happened recently, a chance meeting, which influenced me so much, that it is not leaving my mindscape. Even after 4 days. Each day we go out, we meet people. Few we do not as much as notice. Few we click with, or feel happy in the company of. Few we look forward to meeting again. Few, we know, stand apart from the crowd. They constitute a category of people who are mighty charming, who impress with the first word they utter, the way they move, the sort of respect they command from others, but who are also beyond your reach, despite being extremely humble in their disposition.

It is precisely this last category of people I look forward to stumbling upon during my social interactions. My good fortune, I usually do. The charm, and aura which they create is something I feel drawn towards. A new person, a good person, an interesting person always leaves your heart a little more elated than before meeting him. And December gives me the best of such meetings to cherish. However, my last such meeting was a little different. I was happy, but with tears in my eyes. Not the cliched khushi ke aansu. They were what they were supposed to be, tears because something pinched hard, very hard.

You don't give yourself a lot of chances, do you?
I had had breakfast at the All American Diner in the morning with my sunshine friend, and so, I was ebullient. Happy, and smiling to myself. I was happy also for a completely unplanned rendezvous with this person (the subject of this post), still an alien to my world, to whom I had been introduced via lengthy eulogical testimonials from some common friends. Two cups of Barista Cappuccino to start the conversation, what more could I ask for?  Then came this one question, rhetorical-I reckon, which completely caught me unaware. Who was this person asking me this question anyway? It was just a polite coffee I had looked forward to sharing with him, with loads of thought-provoking exchange of ideas embellishing our meeting, just like it happened the last time. This one line, not only provoked my thoughts, but kind of intruded in my personal space. Am I that easy to read? Was he even right?

Something told me he was. Why would that ebullience otherwise plummet so low that I would start averting my eyes from him, and in stead, focus all my attention on two Barista paper napkins hitherto inconspicuously lying on the table? Why otherwise did I catch myself tearing a sugar sachet when for years consistently I have liked my coffee bitter? My mind was bugged by this person's piercing gaze, which I knew was resting on me, waiting patiently for me to assimilate myself and come up with an answer. I could come up with none. In stead, I came up with a question.

What does not giving yourself enough chances mean?
With eyes gleaming of confidence in his own thought, and a mute kindness in his tone, he explained to me the meaning I sought. And that sounded completely like something delineating me- the part of me I try and keep concealed. It sounded painfully like me. By now, that points comes in your meetings with new people, where you realize if the two of you share a kindred connection, or if the initial charm you felt for someone a consequence of a misplaced adrenaline surge, which now has dissipated for the best. As for me in that weird situation, neither of the two happened. I was sitting with someone clearly smarter than myself, but not to intimidating limits. He had lofty ideals in his head, but his head firmly atop his shoulders. His thoughts were a treasure to observe, but suffocating when I tried stepping into the world they created. This was a person I knew I wanted to hear and learn from, but he was definitely a person whom I would not like to have another prompt tryst with.

Of the many arcane things he uttered, one was that he liked making people uncomfortable. Now that was not the most chivalrous of things to say, and hence my response was an obvious grimace. But of all the things I will remember his for, just in case I do never meet him again, this will stay with me. When discomfort settles in, ousting a crippling complacency,  you feel a need to come out, feel alive, make mistakes, learn from them, make mistakes again, and keep learning from a stimulated, active existence. These might not have been his thoughts, but they are my sentiments for sure.

For two days, I was brooding. I had been shaken out of my comfort zone, and pretty badly at that. I am not saying it was a life changing meeting. In fact, it wasn't. But it was one worth remembering, for my own good. His distinct sentences have now condensed in my mind as an elegy to the lost promises of youth, to the unabated acceptance of things as they have come my way. When I think of it now, the gaze- his gaze, coupled with that curl of lips which unnerved me no end as I sat in front of him, seems sort of beautiful in retrospect. I am definitely not meeting up this person again, for being unnerved in an alien company is not an experience I would rush myself towards. For that, I might hate him, but for the warmth which spreads through me as I write, I will definitely admire him.

Most of the worthy, beautiful things in life lie but a step away from us. May be they lie even farther away, but its that first step which we often deliberate too much over taking. By then, the proverbial butterfly has flown away, to a new abode. And we, we lurk right there, right at the edge, still hesitating to take that one step. Insecurities, fears, irrationalities- they exist in each heart, but whether we submit, or make them submit is what differentiates the ordinary from the outstanding. It is not a very well developed thought, but I want to leave it at that. I have found myself lurking at the edge of sunshine many a times in life. Now, with this little, abstract realization, I think I want to step into that sunshine, and open my arms, and feel the rays make my heart their home. Can't help getting poetic, foolishly may be, but it conveys the thought, right?

To end, I again found a painting by my favorite, Leonid Afremov. This one is called
Sun of January