“What was the guy looking for?”
“Dunno .. “
“Arghh…Seriously .. escapes me too .. The play was confusing at best and boring throughout. And the way he looked at the crowd at the end for 5 straight minutes! Creepy! And what’s so fun about these one character plays anyway?”
“Hmm.. true”- a half hearted reply escapes my lips as i stand there gazing past my friend who now starts walking towards the other direction. It feels like he knows where to go and i tag along instinctively.
“There is nothing fun in watching one character plays. And i can easily imagine neither would be acting in one” — i continued as we walk towards our next unknown destination.
“Leave this chalo! whats next ?” — he suddenly snaps back at me. I guess birds of the same feather.
“Lets see what else is going on.” — i gestured towards the big board detailing the schedule of the college festival. A whole crowd is gathered around it and we try to wriggle our way in to have a closer look. As we reach there, we start inspecting the board going through the line items one by one. “It is always good to pick the good events from the bad ones in festivals for maximal fun.”
“Btw did you notice its F.S. in that group? Long time no see. Go say hi na. She is your old friend.” — pointing out to a rambunctious group of people.
I too noticed her too before he did. But conveniently chose to ignore it. It has been long and the conversation would be awkward. There is nothing to be gained from approaching her. Additionally, she seems to be enjoying in her usual huge group. Pass.
“Nai. It’s been long. Lets focus on where we have to go next. I ll say hi later”
Its been 5 minutes now and both of us have read description of each event multiple times. We still glare at it, as if the board itself will instruct us what should we choose. As we stand there, we realize we are not alone and many other people, alone or in small groups have joined us in our meditations on choosing the right events. People start thinking about their own lives when they see other people do the same. Or they want to show they are thinking about their lives. Not to others but themselves. Nevertheless, a crowd gathers.
As i get bored from these deep group meditations, i glance at my friend and decide not to disturb his focus on getting the right choice. He seems more serious about this and i decide to trust his decision making on this one. Unlike me, he still feels any of this would change how much fun he is having at the festival.
My attention is now divided equally between all the people in the crowd that surrounds us in the main hall. I get into the old habit of deciphering what is going in each person life. From afar everyone looks so happy. Energetic. The average kinetic energy of this crowd starts troubling me. How can they be so energetic throughout the day?
A sweat drops from my forehead and i feel the suffocation building in the hall. These things affect you more when you start noticing. Some would argue that you want to feel suffocated to get an excuse to get out of the crowd. Perspiration is a mental response not a physical one. I don’t know if there is a difference honestly. I walk a little away from the board, letting my friend take his own sweet time.
I pull out my phone from my pocket. There are no notifications. Rather i would have been surprised if there were any. It is just a prop that i use to justify my movements in empty space when i am alone. It helps me gain space. To think and to just observe. To not participate.
It is illogical to use the phrase “divided attention”. Perhaps hypocritical. For me, i could only focus at one thing, even if i am just barely looking. When we use such a phrase, we mean to denote shifting attention. You look at one app on your phone. Then you look at your notebook. Then you think about someone. It is never actually simultaneous as many would make us believe. That we are not thinking just about one thing in some moment, moments which are beyond such encapsulation. I don’t think thats true. At least not for your conscious brain.
There are stalls at the corners of the main hall and i decide to scan them for killing time. I notice my friend has entered into animated conversation with someone. I am not sure what it is about but i safely decide to dodge this one and spend some more time roaming around these stalls. He will call me when he is ready to go. I need to spend time by myself only till then.
I roam around looking at things on display at each counter from a distance. Letting other people ask the questions about the poster and just absorbing the answers. The stall i am currently at, seems to go on and on about his product. Guess it would be impolite to just leave.
As i listened to the revolution a marketplace for old pillows would create, my eye again catch glimpse of her. She is standing in the stall at the other corner of the room. There is a sparkle in her eyes as she excitedly jumps while waiting to say her thing. And then just blabers all at once what was on her mind. I can recognise that smile with infectious giggle amidst of no matter how large a crowd. My friend did not need to do anything. Smiling she turns her head towards me.
Then she starts walking towards me. As if she has recognised me and wants to say hi. My heart beat increases as i start imagining what will i say. I don’t want to have this awkward conversation right now. A part of me really wants this to happen, for her to say hi, for us to reconnect like old times. The other part is why i write.
Suddenly a guy appears from behind the crowd and high fives with her. As they joke around, i rationalise to myself that she was just going to meet her other friend. I should just focus on being in present and enjoying these stalls.
“We are the trend setters. And you can be part of the revolution. Join us now!”- i nod half listening as my thoughts disappear into themselves.
Things do change fast.
Its not been long ago, when we roamed the streets together. Laughing, smiling and joking around. No one was safe from our starical attacks. Not god, neither men. We can spend hours talking about same jokes and still be able to find new things to laugh at together. If someone saw us from outside, they must have felt we have gone rabid or we need some kind of mental help.
The long conversations about meaning of life which meandered through multiple alleys of self doubt and complete reassurance. Being awed by her assertive self confident answers to the various philosophical puzzles that i raised in front of her, i continued exploring what she feels about the bigger things in life.
What does it mean to be a human in a world that seems random? What is the best we can do in this moment? How do you enjoy life without giving a damn about future.I still vividly remember having all these discussions while sharing an umbrella as rain is falling while we return to the campus.
To go at the remotest of place and then feeling a desire for our biggest addiction- Tea, wasting everyone’s time just to find a tea place. Ordering rounds of tea as people around are calling for more shots.
To feel utmost respect for someone. Making ways to maximise time with someone. To hear as much as you can from them over as many cups of tea as possible. To just walk miles and miles, steps in and out of rhythm, talking and silent but together. I don’t know what it means to love someone for i am just a kid. But i do know what it means to want to be with someone.
All men experience the so called good days in life, each by their own accord, each awarded their own share by lady luck. Just that its a shame that they go by in an instant. The other kind of days, you know, the blue ones. Those fucking take forever.
I hear my friend calling my name loudly again and again but i realize it’s too far and i continue looking at nothing. At no one. I could delay my response un till he reaches me for there is no immediate need for me to acknowledge the present. There never is. Things in future are easier than things in the present. Things that do not happen take less energy than things that do. Imagination is infinitely cheaper than action.
Suddenly i feel a tap on my shoulder.
“Hey! I have been here all along. Why aren’t you responding back?”
“Don’t know ….I just can’t”
“Hey!!!!Bro listen!What are you even saying. Look. Everything looks equally shit.”
“Come on lets go to any event. Or do you have any preference? Wait what’s there?” — He turns to look at an empty corner of the room as people have moved on to their next events.
“Were you looking for someone?”
Ohh its B.B. He is looking here. I should say hi.
Looks like he has not seen me. He will look back and realise soon.
Weird of him to not respond.
What is he staring at.
“Old friends should not be rude”
Something feels off. Dunno. let me just go.
“Hey wait for me. I am coming with you guys!”