It was a sunny Sunday, as they sat outside a cafe. Everything was too bright. He squinted at her, as she merrily sipped her coffee. The sun and the smoke had alerted him into a wide-awake, consciously tensed state of mind. ‘Am I looking at my antithesis?‘, he thought to himself. He wanted to chuckle with amusement, but the excitement of the talk they were having had made him like a taut string, drawn arrow.
She was a new friend he had made in this town, where he had come only a month before. She was talking about the nature of the relationship between a man and a woman. He had long stopped provoking such conversations as it was a drug to him which was both useless and fatal, if taken in large quantity. But somehow it had popped up today.
They had been discussing cursorily each other’s experiences regarding the matter, and she was talking about what she thought was the unpredictability, and ephemeral nature of everything, and the oh-so-shaky foundations of the relationships in the society, and the ironic inevitability of such a set up. “It’s a mad mad world, you know,” she said, giving a serious look momentarily, before beaming her sunshine smile, beating back the sun itself. One should keep on the lookout for one’s own happiness. Apparently experimentation seems to be the only recourse possible, in absence of any other sensible alternative.
Amusing. Very amusing.
He chuckled at his cigarette, lowering his gaze on it. “You know what? With modernization, we’ve expanded our concept of going out so much, we make relationships on the slightest pretext. But the irony is that almost nobody actually knows what he/she is really looking for in the other person. Nobody wants to burden oneself with giving it a thought. They just go with the flow, without actually thinking about why they are doing what they are doing.”
He paused, took a puff and sip, and continued. “This results in the ‘mad world’ you’re talking about. I have quite a liberal mindset, but my surroundings have always been traditional ones. I used to think, long back, why one bothers oneself so much with this love thing. Morality means nothing to me, so why not just go out with anyone you like to, any time you like to. You are completely free to do anything you want to. and so are others. But now when I see what you told me, I realize, once again, why it’s worthless. Yes we have the freedom, but that freedom means nothing if we ourselves don’t know what we are looking for in the relationship/casual-relationship/marriage/whatever-the-hell-it-is we are in or seeking.”
He abruptly stopped, as though the current of thought was suddenly stopped midway in his mind. He didn’t know what else to say. He looked at her, she was staring intently at him, not looking completely satisfied with what she heard. “For all the things that I’ve seen, I still have no idea what is the right thing to do. But I do know about some things which are certainly the wrong ones,” he thought to himself.
“I think we should go,” he said, closing off the rogue topic, sealing it with an amiable smile. “I’ve got to head back to my place for some work.”