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Monday, 10 September 2012

Lives of others

It has been rather pleasant this eve, hence I decided to switch the air con off and open all the massive windows in my room. It’s rather nice really. Pausing between a second coat of pink nail paint I glanced around at the tall Toblerone like buildings surrounding my building. Gazing outside, directly  into the living room (diagonally opposite my window) with a giant flat screen, I felt like James Stewart in Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”. Not actually hoping (or maybe I am, hmmm) for an actual murder, It is so fascinating to glimpse into someone’s life like that. It is almost embarrassing; one cannot help but feel like a voyeur. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kCcZCMYw38

In India, more often than not, it is quite common for people to talk about the most intimate details of their lives. It is weird and fascinating at the same time, as once someone feels they have sussed out a sympathetic ear, out comes the linen, stitches and all. Why it is fascinating is the manner it is said. The pouring out of the details is not a two sided conversation, the speaker is using the other as a sounding board, the words bouncing off the other as would a ping pong ball off the passive table. The stories are not about small matters one can shake off, they are heart breaking tales of broken hearts, promises, hardships one cannot even fathom. To be honest, I really wish they didnt unload this human trauma on me, because quite simply I am a sucker for sob stories.  In the end, or mostly in the middle of the narrative I feel such guilt, such pain, possibly more than the other person does the point of a sounding board is lost. Knowing I cannot help, or even ease the pain, and knowing I am merely a sounding board, does not erase the fact, that here is a fellow being, in pain, so much so that they have forgotten how to cry. Tears have dried.

It is daft I admit, not to be conditioned to such misery, as most around me are, but I cannot help it. It feels awful. More so, because the person narrating it so many times, knows the events down pat, and speaks of it in the most casual manner, throwing words at me like a glance and moving on, not knowing that, that glance carries a weight. Is misery really lessened when one speaks of it to everyone who would listen? Selfishly I resent this passing of the buck, no fair I say. Fate turns around and smiles cruelly and says, “You and I are not done, yet.”

These people are lucky I guess. They’ve built their lives like an open house, where new people are allowed to visit every now and then. The issue in itself has now become so banal, that it has possibly lost its strength. They pass their problems in small take away packs, easing their pain in the process. Interesting strategy, I must admit.

Silent tears give me the heebie jeebies.

This Eid we had a few guests, and whilst one party was leaving after a hearty dinner, my mum asked the lady to come over soon with her husband and kid. The said lady burst into silent tears, I couldn’t help but stare. (The lady’s husband had left her and was not even paying child support) What pain must one carry in their little hearts, which is so fragile, so deep.  Given my mum couldn’t do anything to ease her pain, or save her from the misery she would have to face once she went back home, mum did the next best thing by offering her comfort and kind words. 

We each have to bear our own crosses to bear, and the pain of that cross is like the daily pain suffered by Prometheus accursed to having an eagle peck at his heart for all eternity. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus) Not unlike “The Gods”, our own little lives can feel like an eternity, and this life is not long enough to ease our own pains least of all take on the pains of others.  Since we are more or less sailing in the same boat, to listen to someone else’s pain and offering a few words of comfort is really not much, and once I am past my own discomfiture, I realize the honor the other is bestowing upon me by making me privy to their personal grief. THEY are allowing Me to better myself by giving me an opportunity to see the lives of others and appreciate how much better mine is.

So whilst I get ready to draw the curtains on my window, I appreciate how much worse this side of the view can be.

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