What makes bizarre conversations bizarre?
The other day I was faced with an unusual remark:
“You don’t look like a divorcee.”
This was a hip woman who had seen enough of the world to be eligible for emotional qualifier miles.
I did not know her well enough. Someone just introduced me and in passing mentioned my ‘status’. She had given me the once-over and then with her heavily-kohl-lined small round eyes, she had looked at my mouth, now slightly agape, and pronounced those words.
It was as though she thought all the answers were held in that mouth.
If she were a friend I would have quarrelled with her; if she was someone I disliked, I would have been catty. She was no one. Yet, she had branded me.
I merely shrugged and, fortunately, it was time to leave.
Why are labels so important? Is this a case of projection or protection? I may never meet her again, so why was judging me important for her? Did it make her feel better or worse? So, was it about her or me?
Standing before the full-length mirror, I began to wonder what a divorcee was supposed to look like. I needn’t have bothered.
When I was married, they said I did not look married.
When I was young and innocent, they said I had been around.
When I was old enough to have been around, they said I had that pure, sublime look.
When I show them a bit of my light, they look for my shadow.
When I sit in the dark, they flash a torchlight at me.
If I listened to all those voices, I would never be able to speak. Or enjoy the tranquillity of quietude.
I am not yet ready to lose myself.
I am not ready to echo Sahir's words for myself:
Ab to phir tumse mulaquaat nahin hone ki
Mil bhi jaao to koi baat nahin hone ki
Aakhri baar faqat, zikr tumhaara karlein
Tum jo keh do to sitam, ye bhi gawaara karlein...