Ordinarily, I'm an apostle of goodness and virtue. Also, an epitome of courtesy and good-manneredness. But sometimes things just tend to get a little awkward you know. And I get flustered. I'm not sure exactly what I'm supposed to say, and where I'm supposed to go or look.
It happens with everyone, I know. You're walking down the road, and you meet another person whom you know somewhat. You're on, what we call here, a "watsup"-basis with him. You're "sup"-ing chums. Meaning you meet every other day, when your paths intersect on your way to different places, and you say hi to each other and you ask how the other one is doing and was he there when this happened that other day and isnt it just such a pity about the Harbhajan fiasco. Its not like you ask with the expectation of a serious discussion or a dissertation on exactly how dastardly those Australians are. Both of you just nod and grin and chuckle. And then you move on in your respective directions.
It works well with everybody. And everybody knows how it works. You meet people this way, you re-establish contact, you keep in touch, and you are aware of each others' existence. All these good and required necessities of social life are thus completed without the bother of having to stay in touch or having conversations over coffee some awkward day.
I'm saying all this because I broke a cardinal rule yesterday. The cardinal rule. This wonderful method works on a few rules you see. And one of them states, quite clearly, that you do not engage in a sup-ping with an individual if both of your respective paths bear almost parallel direction to each other.
I walk fast generally, so I overtake a lot of people. I was walking fast. So was this guy, with whom I'd been watsup-ing since the starting days of college. An old faintly recognized acquaintance.
Hey man. 'Sup with you?
Nothing much. Chal raha hai. Class is a bitch, and the heat and all.
*laughs* Ya I know! The teachers suck ya. So boring.
I know, I know.
This is where normally people part ways. The conversation is finished. And you get a move on.
It didnt happen. We were both going to college. We were both walking at the same speed. We were walking right along side each other. And that makes me very uneasy, I dont know why. I cant walk right alongside another person whom I'm not, you know, walking with somewhere. Its strange.
He's an almost stranger. I usually forget his name too. But from above conversation as you see, names dont figure in the picture at all. So thats usually cool.
But now what? He didnt know what to say. I didnt know what to talk about. My head was in turmoil. It was too strange to just walk now, after such a chummy reunion-esque meeting. An air of unease hung between us. He looked at me, scornfully, knowing well it was I who had initiated the conversation and hence it was I who had broken the rule. And I? I was mentally scrounging for a way out.
Why did I have to sup him? Why??
Nishant, you dork, didnt you see him going your way??
So what will you do now? Should we ask him about the weather? What does one say in such occasions? Ask about sports?
Maybe I could ask him what kind of music he likes?
Does he have brothers and sisters?
Does he like that girl walking ten paces ahead with her radically oscillating hips?
I wiped my brow. I stiffened the upper lip. I firmed my shoulders. I looked up and began. Almost.
For he had relieved me, and picked his way out of the inescapable social faux-pas. He'd stopped to buy a pen.
I saw it for what it was. His sacrifice, to save me from humiliation and both of us from a social situation that could have torn our faint acquaintance-ship apart like a bullet through a little handkerchief. I respected his on-the-feet thinking. It was clever, and yet a subtle way to let me know that it was indeed his sacrifice. Who, after all, buys pens for class? I chuckled to myself. Smart guy.
I need to commence immediate upgradation work on my fast-thinking skills. This sort of shoddy work wont do. Not at all.