Friday, October 22, 2004

My existential anger

I saw Dustin Hoffman on Letterman yesterday, promoting his new movie 'I heart Huckabees', the premise of the movie revolving around an existential investigator to cure people's problems. Have the psychiatrist follow the patient rather than the other way around. The Globe and Mail and Toronto Star reviews arent raving, but still its on my watch list.
And I went through the day thinking about my own existential being and the frustrations I have been through - all in very comical ways I assure you. Like my 'nakaam aashiq' role that comes out late at night, and the 'pedagogue to the world' role that was firstly my mother's right, and now forms a part of my inheritance.
Coming back from work, I dropped off at the Albert Campbell Library, and on my way home, I bumped into my own room-mates at a coffee shop. Trust me, when the only people you keep bumping into are your own room-mates, you desperately need some change in your life!
So I walked into the coffee-shop, and I noticed her following me with her eyes. And surely, I had her classified even before she uttered a word. She looked South Asian, the dark skin contrasting with the cream-colored man's shirt that she wore. Since the owner is a Sri Lankan, I assume that she is Sri Lankan, too. She looked young, probably still a teenager in high school. Standing behind the counter, she dealt eagerly with her customers, me included. Probably her first job, and a nosy employer.
When she served me my coffee, I stared into her eyes. Big white sockets with black holes in the middle. I had seen these eyes before. As I sat down with my room-mates with my own cup, I wondered about that.
And all my demonized anger, my frustrations, my confusion; that I had been laughing about in the day, came running back. The humor of it all had suddenly evaporated.
Those were your eyes that I had stared into. Those whites, contrasting with the dark skin, the perfect rounds of black swinging here and there, watching everything, noticing everyone. Pure eyes, taking in the contaminated world around them, worthy of preservation, worthy of praise, fragile yet bold, curious yet knowledgeable.
She swung back to another lady, breaking the spell, and I was left mesmerized. My roommate AJT remarked about my paleness. I shrugged.
And as she was dealing with her customers, I felt pangs of jealousy rise again. 'Too soon, too soon', I tried to reason. 'Too far, too far' someone replied. I swallowed, plunging down whatever had been trying to rise.
I wanted a smoke. I desperately wanted a smoke. I mumbled something to my friends and ran to an acquaintance who worked at the library. I grabbed two from his pack, and I raced back.
Back at my seat, I realized I couldn't smoke inside the coffee shop, I had to get out again.
She looked, and I tried not to stare. But it didnt work.
And how she looked... divine, once she was your shadow. The cream colored shirt glowed in the yellow light, paling even her eyes, your eyes in the glow. The starched collar was suddenly brittle like a metal ornament, it would break but it wouldn't bend. The shoulders rested back signalling reassurance, and the eyes were audacious, staring at me, a woman's eyes staring at a man, a resolve not be deterred, a childish curiosity and intelligence, a tamed anger that wouldn't come out through the mouth, it was overflowing from her eyes.
And all my claims at fire, earth and water diffused into a tension that sprang from my gut, and ended in my throat.
Having lost my control over my surroundings, I exited her territory, and lit my cigarette. My roommate suggested groceries, and I wandered in the chinese store trying to make sense of what had just happened, and what had happened then.