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..It was as though his spirit and mine had momentarily succeeded in bridging the gulf of language and tradition and meeting in utter intimacy.”

That was George Orwell in Homage to Catalonia.

Like I’ve mentioned earlier, I love random encounters. Whether it was the guy in Landmark who started a conversation about Sartre when he saw me flipping through ‘Being and Nothing’ or the woman who handed me a book of quotes to keep me occupied while waiting for the employee to check the stocks or the professor in British Council who started talking about town planning and pollution. Spontaneous, engaging and honest.

And as mush as I loved these conversations and was fascinated by these people, I wish I wouldn’t see them again. I’m almost convinced it wouldn’t be the same and that it would somehow tarnish the memory of that one beautiful encounter. Our paths crossed for the briefest time and inspite of the fact that the world can be really small, it was like we knew this would be the only time we will talk as the people we were then. And somehow that made the whole experience..pure and more real. There was no time or impulse for formalities or decorum.

I don’t know any of their names. Or what they do. But I did for a really insignificant amount of time, understand them. It was like an incident during my rural visit. I met a retired history teacher who was in his 90s. He spoke a lot about the village and his childhood there. And as helpful as he was with the questionnaire, he refused to let me picture him. He said the exact conversation should exist only his memories and mine. Not because of any attempts at secrecy, but because no one else will carry them with the same reverence and that lack of appreciation will degrade the moment somehow.

We are born alone and we die alone. This I know. But what I forget is, we are born into a family, a community and a world. And we do experience some things together. How we choose to see and react to those that experiences, well that’s where the first difference comes in. But the fact is, our experiences are more similar than I would like to agree. I might be contradicting my past selves here, but sometimes, in moments like this, I feel it isn’t that hard to be yourself.

 

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