It’s just two minutes shy of 10.30 on a Tuesday night. The purple haze from what was surely meant to set a sexy mood feels like how every seedy place across the globe does. As in everywhere else, a familiar scene plays out here too: Young men trying to cavort with young women and old men trying to cavort with even younger women.
Some will succeed. Some will go home to the comfort of their right hand; snug in the knowledge that tomorrow is a new day and that tonight will be forgotten by the time the birds begin to sing.
The bartender lives up to the stereotype: moving about, chatting to customers, shouting out orders to his subordinates- the ones who aren’t on the same level of bartending skills as he is.
I once heard a character in a movie say that a quiet bartender can make patrons nervous. I agree.
My new frames seem to mask my identity a bit. No one bothers me until they get a close look under these lights.
I know, choosing a bar where I half-expect to know half the patrons and wishing to be left alone doesn’t make sense. But here we are. Here I am.
A young lad I am acquainted with looks through me, not recognizing who I am. For now, I let it be.
A young bunch of people I am supposed to know are sitting across the room behind me. But with my back to them, I don’t know who is who until one of them walks up to the bar to get the next round of orders. He doesn’t recognize me.
Some days, I want to alone by myself. Some days, I want to be in solitude. Today, I’m not sure what I want.
My life, so far, has been a series of extempore speeches. Stumbling from one sentence to the next, leaving in the wake a line of “aahs”, “umms”, and “wells”. Not the most eloquent, I know. My autobiography wouldn’t read well. At all.
“Ranju Dodum: A Life in Extempore Speeches”.
Punctuated with ellipses; exposing the uncertainty that is my life; attempts to hide my insecurities, my fears, and all of that sadly makes up who I am.
Am I ashamed of who I am? On most days.
The new glasses may change the way I look, but can it change my vision metaphorically? Correct it even?
I suppose there is No Lasik For Life? I suppose not. #NLFL
Why do I write? I have never given that any thought until I find myself sitting on a bar stool with a pretty young girl who subtly asked me to move my messenger bag from the stool next to me so that she could sit there.
No, she’s not the least bit interested in me. No, her attention is reserved for the men beside her and her equally young friend. All of them bespectacled and half of me- both in age and in weight.
I would like to think in intellect, too. That’s one of the things I like to hold on to.
Although age may take away my youth, and the sparkle in my eyes may fade (the glasses help me hold on to them, barely), I hope to retain my mind with its memories and experiences (both the horrific and the honourable).
I think I write to unintendedly chronicle my life. What will we be if we didn’t experience all that life could offer? And not remember the life we’ve lived.
After all, that’s the one thing older people have an advantage in- a head start in life.
It is an hour into the night, hip songs off of Bollywood films have been blaring through the speakers. The dance floor holds up well to the stomping of high heels and platform shoes.
My mind wavers into thoughts: Do Arunachalees realise how indoctrinated they have been to what is mainland Indian culture?
Two hours into the night. Five pegs of whisky and one shot later, the mood is lifting, subtly.
But only momentarily.
The alcohol is doing what it’s meant to. My words are losing their way. The sentences, becoming shorter.
These “chapters” are getting smaller. Right now it is almost 3 AM. I am home. The rice has been set at the electric rice cooker with the faux chilly chicken resting easy inside the carton.
This is my night.