Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My fair lady

Famished as much as I was then, I couldn't help noticing the sweet aroma of caffeine mixed with Pecan and Ginger. That isn't the surprising fact, given the recent accounts of my gluttony exploits have been critically acclaimed thanks to my hyperactive socially networked accomplices. But what was surprising was that I also happened to notice a girl sulking at the corner by the window, buried over a mound of books and discreetly fiddling with a brightly colored "smart" phone that distinctly stood out from the general mood of the coffee shop. I ordered my special brew coffee/lunch and went near the glass window which insulates the cold from outside yet lets through the sunlight to provide the warmth - one of the rare moments of pleasure that one can experience on the bright days of winter.

And it was at this juncture that I heard a shuffle behind my shoulders (and thanks to the semi-reflective properties of silicon glass) and realized that the girl was now accompanied by a friend who was a guy. That observation of mine had to be further fine-tuned when I heard the very first words that he spoke to the girl. No amount of bureaucratic or social protocols would have mandated him to apologize as profusely as he did; except if he were her boy-friend. I am almost sure that it beats by quite a margin, a murder convict pleading guilty of genocide and asking for pardon from a death sentence. By that time, my lunch arrived and I was obliged to stay put and hear the ongoing conversation. In my defense, I have to say that 'overhear' is not an apt term I should have used, as the conversation was happening right behind my back and the only option I had was to walk away clumsily with the food in my hand. On hindsight though, I really think that would have been the saner choice.

Now that I have established my innocence, I shall now proceed with relating the crux of the conversation I happened to hear. I'll have to refer to them as the 'girl' and 'guy' since I did not even turn to look at them, let alone know their names. And it is least surprising that I did not learn it through the conversation either, given that human recognizable proper-nouns are to be promptly replaced by diabetic pro-nouns like sweety, sweetheart, sugar, darling, etc., during all conversation between couples. The guy had apparently committed the unpardonable crime of coming in 5 minutes later than she had called him (as he was giving a project presentation), which triggered another round of apologies tendered in all possible permutations known to mankind. To be noted is that my friends have already classified me under the emotionally-challenged species and I was already beginning to feel uncomfortable with all the emotional appeals taking place behind me. For a moment, I felt relieved when she said she was cross with him for being late and was about to walk away. Fair enough, I thought.

Destiny is never so kind! He stopped her and made her sit down which was followed by another tirade of emotions as she began to initiate the intricate process of converting anger into self-pity and started sobbing. Ouch! "Just leave! Get up and just leave the damn place.."- I thought.  The will of my mind was subdued only by the half eaten sandwich and the thought of potentially ending up with a coffee stained T-shirt (provided by my previous employers, of course). Coming back to the present, she was saying that the homework needs to be done in another hour and that "we" would not be able to do it. But it was when he asked, "What time do you need to submit it?" that its implication struck me in full (Again, I'm well known to be spontainity-challenged). Interesting..., I thought, but was interrupted by a fresh burst of vocal cacophony from behind. She said that she was not going to submit "her" homework because "he" was late and "he" was responsible for it. But what totally stumped me was when he started apologizing again and pleaded with her to complete and submit her homework. Oh! the ways of the world!

And what ensued further is chronicled for purely academic interests - She overslept and he apologized. She forgot to bring her glove and he apologized. She got to campus late and he apologized. She couldn't find an "app" for her smart phone that morning (she did have time for that!) and he apologized. She wouldn't pay the bill for the coffee and he apologized. Readers, please pardon me for my inability to elaborate further on those parts of the conversation - our language falls drastically insufficient in its ability to express them with any finer granularity than the term mushiness allows.

As you would have guessed, this emotional overdose was way too much beyond my earthly abilities of forbearance and I took flight at the earliest possible moment. I must have looked quite a sight with a half filled coffee cup in one hand, a bunch of crumpled tissues and silverware in the other and a sandwich stuffed mouth. For, the Samaritan beside me, whom I thought so far to be sunken deep into his MacBook Pro and oblivious to all the ensuing drama, looked up and smiled. The smile said one word - compassion.


PS. I had drafted this write up almost a year ago, but was not happy either with the phrasing/structure or the authenticity about the generality of the content. The former was remedied with rephrasing the content and latter by various similar encounters and snippets that had been related to me.