How are you, really?
Mundane vicissitudes of life sometimes leave residues for quiet contemplation, ponder long enough it becomes a life altering revelation. No wonder Somerset Maugham once wrote that “in each shave lies a philosophy”.
Having answered that question in passing with — I’m good, fine, great, normal, better, alright, and ending with how are YOU doing? — that YOU, uttered with a slightly higher decibel, and matched with facial expressions — normally an eyebrow raise with a slightly tilted face, was meant to restore the power equation that was momentarily lost in the verbal exchange that leaves the other with a hidden code to “mind your own business”!
This time however, when that same question was posed with a touch of tonal empathy, rendered with tender motions of the body, it strangely altered his senses. Knowing well, not many in his circle would take liberty to pose that question nor could he escape with a casual response that bordered on a lie …can he? He thinks for a moment, and calculates a response that will not dent his presumed authenticity nor expose his vulnerability by cut opening a festering wound scared by the episodes of life punctuated with anxieties, failures, fears, broken promises, and insecurities. In that liminal state of oscillating thoughts, he gently voiced a feeble “I’m fine” only to trigger a series of explosions within. “I know” she said with a reciprocal tonality that hinted fragility; it took him a few seconds to plumb that It was no longer a layered monologue that textured only his mental, and emotional state but an estranged dialogue that blended their raw unfeigned emotions and feelings.
Its been twenty years they both muttered. An uncanny silence ensued as they unraveled their hearts in the crowded confines of a cafeteria in the transit lounge with jet lagged passengers waiting for their longhaul flights. With the final call for boarding announced for both their flights to two different destinations, they pack their bags, and their thoughts, they slipped away into the rushing crowd quietly ruminating the missing parts that would mend their long frayed and forgotten story.
Now they both know how they are, really.