“All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naïve. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: that I am nobody but myself.” – Ralph Ellison
“Kahan jaana hai, Madamji?” My thoughts were interrupted by the conductor on the bus asking me where I was headed. I really wanted to say… “Anywhere away from here, bhaiya…” but I stopped myself and said, “Ajmeri Gate”. I sat silently through the entire bus ride, alone with my thoughts and accompanied by curious glances and stares from the localites who were probably staring at the piercing or did they see the pain?
I got off the bus and walked for a long while, along the shaded corridors in front of the shops. I was upset, that was evident. The reason behind it was also pretty much evident but I refused to believe that anybody, let alone a boy could have such an effect over me. He was an idiot and certainly didn’t deserve the amount of thought directed at him but they seemed to be directed at him all week.
I walked, i shopped and I went into this quaint little place through an arched doorway, so easy to miss on a regular day… Indian Coffee House, where I was transported back in time into the ’80s. Oh, how I loved it… I sat there in silence… ate my yummy French Toast and Cheese Omelette drowning it with the most perfect Banana Shake and it was just for a few minutes… blissful… I tipped the waiter and watched the calm and composed cashier get fondly yelled at by the waiter for forgetting to take down the order he had given him before. I watched in insolent silence as a young man tried to engage in an intellectual conversation with a foreigner who seemed to be agitated about something. As I left, I let the door bang behind me… just to wake me up from this dream world that was my affair with myself.
I walked out and it was much darker now; the sun had already set and I walked aimlessly. It was almost romantic how my silent thoughts were numbed by my headphones playing music that I didn’t want to listen to and how by this act… I was actually numbing out the humdrum of the busy road just parallel to the footpath.
I walked slowly and briskly as I walked past strangers, their shoulders brushing against mine… their smell invading my nostrils and then it happened… the tears… they started welling up in my eyes and just when I thought they were going to fall, the blast of a loud horn… woke me up from my saddened state, if just for a minute… I stared at myself in the passing showcases where my reflection was blurry and hazy and I thought to myself how that reflected how I felt just about then… blurry… hazy… lost… like I was floating away…
Retail therapy normally does the trick and as I stepped out of my body and watched as I went from store to store, in search of a sketchbook and drawing equipment… things I never wanted to buy till that moment. I even went to buy a guitar and came back empty handed because I thought it was a fake… I bought myself a bathroom mat… I felt like the ‘Misguided Wayfarer’ I always thought I was… There was no epiphany, just a happy feeling that the pain had gone and something else had taken its place. Self-realization. I found myself after a torturous struggle of searching for me everywhere I went… It felt nice to belong again, only this time it was to myself.