Because these things don’t come up in conversation


Creation in sound
The stuff that ends up becoming a “thing” between people and friends tend to just happen, you can’t plan them. Over the last few months (more so weeks), my “thing” with a friend at work has become music. Steaming cups of chhiya or coffee by our side, he strums on a guitar, I hum, and once in a while, if the song is really good and we both know the lyrics–we sing together.

I envy the ability to create beautiful sounds. I wish I had the gift of being able to compose music. Honestly, I can’t even sing. But there are certain songs that care not for the beauty of the voice, they just ask to be sung, and with a throat warmed by kaalo chhiya (chini kum!) I’ll relax my vocal chords and get carried away by the song.

I enjoy these tea breaks the most.

Imprints on my foot
For my weeks of wanting to spend copious amounts of quiet hours in my room, I’ll spend  the same amount of time trying to make up for socializing. And so, just about every day for the past two weeks I’ve been frequenting Thamel and in doing so, I’ve, once again, become familiar with those who claim small pieces of the sidewalk to ask for their living.

In crossing the overheard bridge by Ratna Park, I always look for the old man who’s smile I still remember with uncanny clarity. But he’s not there. I haven’t seen him for months. In the place where he used to sit, asking for 5rp for people to step on his weighing machine, there are other men with wrinkled faces and in some strain of loyalty, I haven’t been able to walk on that side to offer a human touch of exchanging smiles. It’s my way of preserving the memory of the man who remains nameless. I knew so little about him.

So in walking on the side with a pond fit for a Queen, I’ve come to expect another older gentlemen who sits not on the edge but toward the middle of the footpath inconveniencing walker-bys with his pleas.

His method is unusual for those of his age–more aggressive in a way. Far more in-your-face. His way of seeking attention is to touch feet.

As it is, I am uncomfortable with people looking at my feet and added to this quirk is my deep disdain for my feet being touched by anyone for any reason. And yet, and yet, having to walk closer to the side seeing as this man had encroached the middle, his arm was able to extend far enough to graze the top of my right foot.

I winced.

To those who may have seen my face, they may have read my expression to be one of disgust. It wasn’t disgust, it was hurt. Every time I choose to avoid eye-contact, and every time I make the conscious decision not to reach into my wallet, I am burdened. I have to convince myself I’m doing the right thing, that one day I’ll act on my plan to get people off the streets. There’s a reason I don’t (always) give money, but having to convince myself of these reasons are harder when, days later, I can still feel the exact spot on my foot where desperate fingers left a request for help.

The memory of their touch remains like fingerprints on a cold window. Negative space. Slow in evaporating.

 

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