I am thirty-two years old now and I think I may have interacted with approximately 8,000 people in my life so far. Interacted with some amount of closeness, that is. I am not very sure how I have arrived at this number but I think that this may be quite correct. Now, what defines as close? Maybe a good conversation. Or at the very least, a memorable interaction. Yes, it’s the latter. As a child and a teen, I didn’t exactly talk much. But I do remember people responding to me more easily.
So, I remember that sullen girl in college who would scowl at everyone and worship Shobha De. One day we were waiting outside the college for something. She pulled me to one side and pointed at some distant spot in the sky. It was the first time I saw a large, grey cloud rushing towards our area and drenching that place in rain. She had gone back to poring over ‘Socialite Evenings’.
I also remember a little girl from my childhood. I was in the fourth standard and had gone to some place in Delhi where I had my first elephant ride. This girl and I had spoken about our favorite teachers. Both taught English, by the way.
I remember the little boy whose name started with K. He was in the same nursery class as me and he kissed my hand every day I left for home.
Then I remember…
There are plenty. Now, I feel that maybe there are too many. Maybe I was born with a medium-sized slate and I wrote down every person’s name on it. After I ran out of space, I continued to scribble, writing their names in tiny, ant-like handwriting, getting them to fit in the corners. I don’t like how the slate looks anymore. Maybe I should completely wipe the slate clean and then write out one name after another in measured, equal-sized writings. Keep it neat.
So, what I am thinking of doing is completely retreating from the world. Delete all numbers, snap all contacts with friends, give up all existing freelance assignments and take up new ones. Then, take three months to mull over each name, each contact, each friend, each memory. Hold it in the light to see if it shines. Feel it in the dark to figure out if touch makes a difference. Following this exercise, who or what makes my world fuller – that name gets written out carefully on the blank slate again. Or else, it stays out.