A very private moment in a very public place

Have you ever had that moment? Standing still in the middle of Bombay’s VT at rush hour, as people stream past you, thinking of something that seems terribly important? Sitting on a cement bench in the CP Inner Circle in Delhi, as it slowly comes to life in the morning, sipping chai and reading Said’s Reflections on Exile? In Hyderabad’s Birla Mandir on a Saturday evening, sitting on the steps watching the lights come on in the city and thinking of someone?

I’ve needed that moment, these past few days. A moment alone with my fear, with my hope. A moment to realise what has happened to my life. To feel the despair while its strands slipped from my hands , as if in slow motion. To take a deep breath, find the resolve to bend and grasp as many of them as I can before they all fall away. Then I know I can straighten up again, and look for the rest.

I’ve needed that moment, and instead I’ve been sitting on a hospital bed, convincing scores of concerned people that I am perfectly alright. I’ve needed that moment, because I lay on that bed, with no control over, no consciousness of, the convoluted dance my body was playing. I needed it, and instead I listened to well-meaning advice about eating properly, about not living alone, about not staying out late at night, about sleeping well.

I needed it, but I refused to take it for fear my mind would give out on me again.

It’s now, with my head still slightly woozy from all the drugs in my body, sitting in front of my laptop, that I’ve found my public space, my private moment. And as usual, strange, disconnected thoughts flit into my head. I think of Orpheus and how perceptive it was of him to pick up on my need for control. I think of passes to a concert that I promised to someone and can no longer deliver. I think of a bike ride down Necklace Road as the lights came up in the city, sitting behind my scrawny BikerBoy; a ride from the Uni through the beautiful cantonment on BikerGirl’s little scooterette: rides I cannot have again for a long, long time. I think of three pairs hands hovering close to my back while I sit up and dust myself off.

I think of all these things in my private moment; and as I stand in VT, as I sit on the bench, as I watch the city, as I write, I turn off comments on this post.

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