|Thoughts of a Wanderer|
Last autumn I came across a girl of my age who was a hopeless romantic. While we were not really friends, I still stuck around to listen to her endless series of trivialities. I have always been a good listener. I reckon it comes with the habit of reading. I have always found various stories of people who meant nothing at all to me genuinely interesting. I listened with great patience to her unending stories about her latest love interests. I remember nodding along at the right places, at the right time, commenting only when required. When school resumed, I noticed the people around me having a similar malady. Everybody wanted to be with somebody.
I was amazed at their stupidity. Why on earth would someone want to be dutifully committed to another? The whole aspect was bizarre and I regarded these "love" seeking parasites with blatant contempt. They had no subject of discussion apart from how their hair looked to impress their objects of desire, or how to eliminate potential contenders to their prize. No substance whatsoever. I laughed at their idiocy. My friends, however, would just give me one of those infuriating love-sick puppy smiles that made me want to punch them back to earth.
Then the winter came. Well, a 21* C winter. The annual rain week brought with it similar showers from the eyes of those around me. The January ( I refuse to call it the "Winter Break"- although that would give a great effect in terms of wordplay.) vacations did not render good to the dreamers around me. Everyone was now moaning about heart ache and sorrow. Tough luck, I thought.
I turned to my true companions: Poe, Dostoevsky, the Brontes, and Chaucer. They proved to be more enlightening friends. They had different aspects to share with me. They did not pose emotional fallacy. I found solace in the arts: Music, Painting, Theatre, Poetry, and Film.
Spring. Usually a season of hope; in my blessed school it was just a reminder of the upcoming finals. Well, studies came and went, I guess. I don't usually give a rat's backside for results. I just do my best and leave it at that. I looked forward to summer, in anticipation of travelling abroad, to Europe. It wasn't going to be my first time. Nor my second, or third. It was not a home, but I wanted it to be one. I missed the cool mornings, the speedy trains, the fact that no one misused personal automobile, the food, the long days, starry nights, clouds, and the most interesting people.
You will understand my anger when my mother told me I had to wait longer, in order to complete a summer English class she signed me up for. In any other circumstance, I would have been delighted, but this messed with my Europe trip. She, however had the final say, and I was much obliged to attend.
With great disdain I went to the class. I entered the institute to find the place to be strangely bright and open. I enquired about by class and which room to go to. I was led to this conference type room and was told that my teacher would arrive shortly. My thoughts then were incoherent, coloured by my anger and frustration. In my head I had already blamed this old sodder teacher for ruining a good part of my summer. I waited for what seemed like an hour for his highness to show up. He was probably looking for his walking stick somewhere. My Leo temperament getting the better of me, I started cursing the man in my head. I was somewhere in the fourth or fifth line of my internal diatribe when I was briefly interrupted by a young student in his early twenties. Or so I thought.
I looked in curiosity, momentarily forgetting my silent soliloquy, at the guy wearing a band tee, oddly combined with a grey blazer and low hanging jeans. In one hand he held a cold one from Costa Coffee, and in another keys and sunglasses. The students up in the front of the circular table pushed their revolving chairs to make room for him. He smiled in amusement and took out a red marker from his pocket. Next, he looked around for something and finally took his seat in the slightly larger chair clearly reserved for the teacher. " Sorry about that guys, traffic from the city is awful at this time" were his first words.
I'm pretty sure the others were as bowled over as I was. Surely this was not our teacher. He was barely legal, let alone a graduate. My anger was now converted into a weird mix of anticipation and curiosity, I was captivated by everything he said, by his extensive knowledge of the arts, the way he quoted Voltaire.
By the end I gathered that he was a Bostonian, and did his SAT without a calculator. It sounds odd, I agree, but I mulled over him after class, to home, at home and everywhere else that week,. Little did I know that unconsciously I had caught the malady.
As classes passed, I grew more and more fascinated by his behaviour. I would think for hours about literature he quoted, about other trivia he would share. He was everything I aspired to be: well travelled, educated to a freakishly high level, well versed with foreign attributes, and above all an expert in English from every single aspect. His clean sense of humour charmed me, his meticulous impersonation of various characters amazed me, his laugh was magic. I was stymied.
It took me a while to realize I was becoming everything I hated in others. When I finally did, I smiled. There was this persistent voice in the back of my head saying, "Careful, this is not good." I remember laughing at my pessimistic conscience, deeming it far too negative. I was spellbound. My heart, light.
Time passed until it was the last lesson ever. It was after summer, and I had come back from my holidays. the classes were temporarily stopped, so that he could go back home for summer. The institute offered a replacement, but we all wanted him to be our teacher. So the classes were prolonged till the second week of Senior year. Tuesday was the last class, and I knew that I would not see him again. The city was too big for that. There was this tornado inside me that Tuesday afternoon. Just few more hours till we bid farewell. The class was great. We laughed. But I listened and saw him completely. Inhaled deeply. Time was passing. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. To leave the room, I mean..
Next day, I walked into my first class of the day at school. It was English Literature, my favourite subject. We did Poe, my fovorite author. But for the first time in my life, I could not bring myself to open the book in front of me. It was his favourite author too. The pride of his home town. The lesson was torturous, I prayed for the bell to ring.
Today is that Wednesday. I haven't cried in a long time. I laughed at a lot of things to mask the anguish I felt inside. But my laughter sounded hollow, even to me. I was right all along. Attraction is bad. Very bad. I cannot bear to even look at anything I love.
At least I know how to pronounce my second favourite author's name now.