Saturday, May 14, 2005

Contingent Friendships - 1

These days when my car rolls up at the traffic crossing, the beggar turns and walks to the row of vehicles on my left. If after the detour the lights still haven't changed, he approaches me, looking quizzical. Just to say hello and tip his hat at me. He doesn't ask for money anymore. If I take out a coin from my wallet, that's fine, else he walks on to the car behind mine.

Ever since I'd started a chatty conversation with him more than a month back, he avoids me. And I avoid him, keeping my eyes fixed on the book in my lap till he is actually near my window. As though we know something shameful about each other.

A Love Affair with Words

Old identities die hard. Stubborn, outdated bits of you refuse to let the new bits feel at home. You have to take a deep breath and give the latter an unfaltering welcome: "Welcome, New Me! I hope we get along well."

When you introduce yourself to someone, you might say, "I'm working with a human rights organization," and leave it at that, and then feel awful for finking out on the new you.

You might say, "Well, I'm currently working for a human rights organization," and hope your audience is discerning enough to catch the delicate emphasis, that hint of hesitation, in your sentence. You'd still feel more or less like a fink.

Or you might take the deep breath. Will this sound silly? What if they ask what I've *published*? What if this is all a big mistake? Breathe.

"So, what do you do, Monica?"

"I'm a writer." There. An apologetic grin quick to follow, but I said it, I named me. I am, I am, this is who I am.

Congratulate me, mon amis. June onwards I'll be employed part time, and can spend more time writing and doing crazy things with my life.