Saturday, July 9, 2011


You know all, don't you? Now, tell me why.


After a day spent at work, when I leave for home, as the lights from the streetlamps along the path coruscate dimly off the sand swept glass facade, I always notice a couple wait, outside the front gate, hand in hand, barely audible words said and replied, one pair of eyes holding the other, the world around as diffused as a white blur, as vague as the mirage rising off a heated tarmac . A strange couple is what I remark to myself as I wait ten feet away from them for our bus to arrive. Although her sunken eyes and pale complexion suggest a far eastern forefather, I feel she is from somewhere far closer home. I remember how she looked when she had just arrived in the city, when they were yet to meet: her face was as devoid of colour and life as the sideA of a rift riven band. Things have improved now, and a year of sprucing up and addition of right colour and cream have succeeded in suppressing whatever little beauty her face had to provide and stimulate a look that would help her gain greater acceptance among those she wishes to spend time with. He, meanwhile, is far taller than her, blacker eyes, sinews popping out of limbs, clothes that rarely crumple - a build and carry suggestive of far too much time spent in the gym and in front of the mirror. Neither are they the first couple to wait outside an office nor will they be the last. Despite their differing characteristics and nature, they seem comfortable in each other's presence. Sometimes I wonder if it is all a pretence they want to maintain until it gets to them and they admit to each other that it is all a pretence. I do not know why.

Beside us, cars and buses stream in and pause till the seats in them are occupied. Their drivers, with their tobacco spittle stained shirts, well oiled hair that turn rust coloured as they drive around the city with the window open, often get down from their vehicles and cluster together beside any of their rundown vehicles and speak in hushed tones amidst a lot of limb stretching, yawning and the occasional passing of a cigarette. Those whom their vehicles carry, their names are rarely known to them - conversations are rarely struck and at best avoided.

The couple usually board the same bus that I do. Although we wait alongside each other, it has never struck me nor them to speak a few words to each other. We recognize each other by sight alone. I wonder what their names are. Our ID tags are wound and dropped into our bags as soon as we exit our office and they are too caught up in themselves once they board the bus and contrive somehow to avoid venturing a word or two with those around them.

The bus drops us two streets away from my home. The driver always struggles to navigate his vehicle around our neighbourhood and has to move, nudge and literally curse it with an unceasing stream of nastiness, us lined up one behind the other on the footboard of the bus, fully cognizant of the fact that had we not been travelling in it, the driver would have been left to steer his vehicle in bus-friendly environs. We get down and walk away in directions opposite and ways unknown to the other.

Our names are not known to us. We live nearby yet neither our houses nor the way to reach them are known to the other. What do we opine of each other? Nothing? Does it matter?