I walked all the way up to the bus stop today, because I didn’t want my mood to be wrecked this early in the morning. Which is also why, I decided to dress to my best today. Of course, a formal turquoise saree might not exactly spell grandeur, but I was aiming for at least elegance today. As always, I was very much aware of the prying eyes around me and the stares and glares they gave me. My usual discomfort of being at a single place began to make its hold on me, and finally an AC bus darted towards the bus stop. Should I get on it? Will I be able to afford it? Oh what the hell! After yesterday, I think I deserved something trivial such as this to pull my mood back up.
As I got into the bus, I was immediately the victim of ‘The Look’ from almost everyone. The look upon something that they’ll never get used to, the look that I had gotten used to a bit too much by now. I wasted no time in searching for a seat, all the time betting that no one would dare to offer me one. It was as if The Non-existent God played his Joker card, the one in the middle was the only seat that was empty. To my left sat all the ladies, and to my right, all the men. There I was, at the far corner of the bus, right in the middle.
The conductor came up to me and asked in an indifferent tone where I wanted to go. I snuck a second look into the text on my mobile just to confirm again, and replied “Anna Nagar” and thrust a crumpled 50 rupee note towards him. . He took the money and demanded 20 more, of course in exact change, and I had to sacrifice my lunch money right there. Giving me the ticket, he returned to his seat. And just like that, I was very much aware of myself thanks to the icy shards of looks piercing me. I decided to get lost in my own world by closing my eyes and plugging in my headphones and I instantly gave in to the soothing music of my playlist. A world where I was engulfed by serenity, rather than by meaningless judgment and scorn.
My mind casually drifted off from my serene world to what happened yesterday. Urgh! I still couldn’t believe why I did that. After a series of temp and menial jobs, I managed to land a job in a small BPO. I had to keep modulating my voice in a weird way, but it helped me pay my hostel bill, so I didn’t complain. With all the moving around and being thrown out all the time, I was content to be in a still place for even the meager pay that I was given there. The Manager there was considerate enough and treated me with respect. Of course I couldn’t say that with those people who were supposed to be my teammates. In an attempt to appreciate me the Manager had presented me with a small table clock in a little but formal meeting he had gathered. A lot of people from other teams were there too. As he gave me the gift and started with some nice words, the crowd began applauding. I instantly noticed one of the guys from my team was clapping in that very peculiar way. And the other guy snickered to it. At that moment I completely lost it. In a fit of volcanic anger, I threw the clock right at his face and threw myself at the other guy. The next fifteen minutes was utter chaos. Followed by the next two full hours of meeting after meeting, and by the end of the day, even with all the practical effort my manager put in to convince his bosses against the decision, I was out on the road again.
In mere 23 years, I was in out of more than just 23 places. Thrown out school after school for reasons too big and too small. At first I used to cry. A lot. I used to blame myself for the condition and ridicule that I was put into. Then I began blaming Him for the way he created me. Finally I realized that blaming never answers anything. It never filled my tummy or helped me push each day away to pull the next one in. I managed to scrape off enough tables and put together enough matchboxes to put me through a public school and up to Post graduation in Tamil via correspondence. My left arm still hurt from the punch I threw at him yesterday, and strangely, the scar in my eyebrow from a childhood long gone of being bullied came back to remind me of its presence too.
The soothing tunes from my playlist brought me back to my world and I noticed that I had to get down. As I got down and glanced back at the text, it put more questions into my mind than answering any.
“I have a Job offer. Welcome to try. I will be travelling day after tomorrow, so would appreciate it if you can make it tomorrow. Good enough pay with staying and food amenities. Address: … “
As I knocked the doors of the bungalow on the address specified, I was received by a very well dressed man in his late thirties.
“Good morning! You come with good references from a close friend of mine. Do come in.”
As I hesitantly walked behind him to the big house, he asked me to take a seat and get comfortable and excused himself upstairs. A fragile old housekeeper lady offered me coffee. I thought that would make up for my lost lunch today. The owner of the house came back down with a big file in one hand and a little boy who couldn’t be more than 10 in the other. The boy felt different, yet somehow familiar. He handed the file over to me, and I knew what I was looking for. He began explaining the situation to me, about some backfired advanced surgery, that he was trying some advanced treatments, but he didn’t want his kid to feel out casted. In one look, I understood. This boy wouldn’t get a scar in his right eye. He wouldn’t be pointed and laughed or scorned at. He wouldn’t have to fight for a fake normal life. He would be taught to define his own normal way of life. Not just because he could just afford it. But because he deserved it.