Kolkata May day!

Bright sun with rain-cooled air – energizing paradox as I step out for work – feeling good, alive, ready for life, marriage equality and climate change thoughts suppressed for the moment – Bollywood number Neele Neele Ambar Par plays on my mind – trite but just right.

No autorickshaw in sight, I’m late, but I’m in a good mood – forest of green overhead smiles with me. I catch myself wishing someone would see me with desire in their eyes and our eyes would lock – heady throwback to the first crush during schooldays; love and passion in my 20s, 30s and 40s – I don’t give up, do I?

The next moment I remind myself – beware, you know what pathway such thoughts might lead to – to a sweet-scented giddy garden of entrapment!

This is a daytime mid-shot of a small bunch of white ‘champa’ flowers blooming amid a sea of long and oval deep green leaves that characterise the plant Magnolia champaca. The whole tree is not visible in the photograph, but it is obvious that the flowers are growing at a certain height, around 10 feet, from the ground. Photo credit: Pawan DhallDo I really need someone to desire me to feel good? Is someone else’s gaze necessary for me to have a sense of self-worth? What about romance with life itself?

What about counting my blessings? Aren’t there so many lives that go by without catching anyone’s attention, no thought ever spared for them, lives crushed under the weight of greed, neglect, excess, violence, even simple misfortune – and here I am with so much going for me.

No moping, no brooding over what’s gone, as a dear friend once advised me. As I do my mental checklist of what to look forward to, an autorickshaw arrives – I land in my favourite spot, on the extreme right behind the driver – I know I’ll trouble my co-passengers when I get down, but the wind’s in my hair and I slip into a moment of ‘me and myself’.

I may feel lost and lonely at times – a misfit, not at home anywhere in this world – find myself somewhere high looking down a precipice – but is that any reason to not celebrate me and myself in sunny and rain-cooled moments? Kolkata’s sultry summer scenes must have a meaning despite all the squalor.

* * *

There was a time when I felt so isolated because of my differences, differentness – I’d yearn to connect with other people like me. In happier moments, there’d be this fond thought that though I didn’t know others like me, I knew they were out there somewhere, surely some of them also looking for a way out of their isolation. And I’d imagine that there was the ether connecting us all. Air, just thin air, conveying signals of hope between us.

Jump cut to today, and we’re connected beyond our imaginations, beyond our consent, to the point of excess. To the point of desiring isolation?

In my me and myself moments, I DON’T want to be connected.

I hope that uncountable others like me – right at this moment – can live their me and myself moments without distractions. I pray (to no god in particular) that they can have the strength to climb their mountains.

And what’s more, we don’t even need to be connected to exchange notes through beeps, buzzes, and vibrations. Not through pages or groups, not reels, not even deadening ‘lives’.

To my (un)known soulmates I say, “Close your eyes – shut out the noise – hear yourself breathe.”

We’re already connected – through the ether. Air, just thin air conveying signals of knowing.

Photo credits: Pawan Dhall