Readers of this blog know that I have a poor memory. As is my habit, I must have shared this fact with you a number of times. I hardly worry about poor memory – but on some occasions it creates embarrassing situation for me. Today was one of those days.
Today I started early for office. I had to prepare for a meeting and in the evening I was planning to leave early. Taking advantage of ‘flexi-time’ facility, I took Metro early than my usual time. I had a different crowd around me. Everyday though I do not have conversations with my co-passengers, we do exchange smiles. If someone is in good mood, she would ask me where I was last week and then I share travel experiences with her. Today too, I was taking Metro after a gap of couple of weeks. But as I mentioned, this was not my usual time, so there was no possibility of meeting someone.
I entered Metro and found a vacant seat. The route I take is underground, so there is nothing to watch through the window. As the journey takes hardly 20 minutes, I generally don’t read book in the Metro. I close eyes and just relax – that is what I was planning to do even today.
Suddenly a young woman sitting opposite to me said “Hello” and smiled. I too smiled spontaneously, but I did not reply. I realized that I did not know this woman. I assumed that she must have addressed to some other woman. So, I kept quiet. Smiling to strangers is alright, even I talk to strangers, but today I did not want and so kept quiet.
I noticed that none of the women sitting either to my left or right spoke to that young women. I was curious. Of course, it was happening in an instant – I am take much longer time to write it; even your are taking more time to read it. I was looking at that women but did not respond to her. Suddenly she showed a feeling of insult and stopped smiling. Her eyes showed frustration and anger. She stopped looking at me, and adjusted her earphone for music on mobile handset. It was clear from her body language that she was not comfortable.
By that time, I too wasn’t comfortable. Part of my brain was trying to find out ‘whether I know this woman and if yes, where have we met.’ The more I thought about it, the more I felt that I have met this young woman earlier. In knew her face, her eyes, her voice … I was sure that the women had said “hello” to me and to none else.
So, I wanted to initiate dialogue with her and started looking at her. But now the woman was not at all looking at me. As if the one-two feet distance between us has suddenly become one or two kilometers. For a moment, I thought of leaving my seat, approaching her and talking to her. But I noticed that the woman was completely ignoring me. That created another wave of doubt. Was she really addressing me or someone else?
I kept on staring at the woman and with every passing moment, I was sure that I knew this girl. She must have been aware of my gaze, because next moment she looked at me. I was fully ready for that moment, and I asked, “Do you everyday catch the same Metro?”
She nodded – indicating ‘no’. I said, “I am surprised that we have never met on the Metro.”
Now she was completely relaxed and gave a big smile. I said again, “How is it that we have never met on the Metro? I travel everyday around the same time.”
She explained about car servicing and said, “Are you coming to Chanakypuri office today? We have to gate down at Race Course station.”
Listening to her, it dawned upon me that this young woman was none else but Shehanaz.
I was ashamed of myself.
I know Shehanaz for more than a year now; I have met her at least 25 times during the year. At for hundred times I had tele-conversations with her. She is receptionist –cum –telephone operator in one of my offices.
Shehanaz is a good natured woman. She is efficient and proactive. Her work is always of a good quality. She has offered me help on many occasions. Whenever I visit Chanakypuri office, Shehanaz is always kind to me. She always asks about my wellbeing, offers me coffee and helps me to sort out my work in that office. What I have observed that Shehanaz is good with everybody around. She is a kind soul. I have a very good opinion about Shehanaz and I have written good words about her to her seniors.
I speak to Shehanaz. We hardly get five minutes. Shehanaz is now in good spirit and she is smiling. Metro arrives at Race Course. Shehanaz gets down. Doors close. Shehanaz moves away but turns back and smiles at me, waves her hand. I too smile and wave back.
However, I am engrossed in thought. Why did not I recognize Shehanaz immediately? If I meet someone after a long gap or someone whom I hardly know and like – I can understand poor memory. But I like Shehanaz and I keep on meeting her regularly – still I failed to recognize her.
It is possible that as I had never met Shehanaz on the Metro, I least expected her to meet here. Well, if I was surprised, it would have been natural – but I failed to recognize her cannot be justified in any manner. Generally we picture people in a given set up – it is hard to recognize postman in civil dress and without postbag; or a vegetable vendor at a movie theater. So, maybe meeting Shehanaz here was not at all expected by me.
Am I equating human being with his/her work? Am I looking at them as machines and not as human beings? Am I too selfish or insensitive to existence of others? Am I always lost in my own world? Am I getting disconnected from the reality around me?
Life has its own speed. There are always new happenings in life, so the old ones are easily left behind. But is it just a game for me – to replace old memories by new? Am I looking at life as a game? What will it lead to me? Until I get old, new persons, incidents, memories will keep on entering into my life – so I can afford to forget the past – persons, incidents, memories and what not. Because I am still active, my senses are working alright, I can play this game; as if it the only one of any significance.
What will happen if I get long life? By law of nature, my senses will become weak; a time will come when nothing new would be added to my life. When the inflow of new persons, incidents, memories etc. stops (and it will stop one day); what will I remember? By that time past will be dead and there will be hardly exciting ‘present’. If I remember something from the past, will that past have any place for me? Will those people, incidents, memories of the past mean anything to me? Will there be only a vacuum – where there will be no past and there will be no present. What will I do then? With the Mind, with the Body and with the Ego?
Will I be able to live happily in that void?