Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Love Letter to Strangers


    I see you every day. On my way to office. On my way back home. When I look out the window of my room. Through the rain-streaked windshield of a taxi. Walking, running, arguing, laughing, crying, hurting, loving, praying, begging, living. I don't know you, but I wish I did. 

I have often wondered about the lives you lead. It could be very similar to mine, or so very different. Does someone wait for you at home? Or do you step across an empty threshold. Do you play with your son, make love to your husband or wife, or do you sink into a chair, battle weary, before digging yourself out to dine on whatever can be prepared with the least amount of effort? I have often wondered about things that are of no business to me, because I so desperately would like to know you. In this teeming city of millions I would like reach out and touch you, and feel how your lives vibrate. Do you yearn for tomorrow, or do you not want the night to end? What are your hopes, what are your dreams? What makes you get out of bed when you wake up in the morning? What drives you through the day? 

You know what I would love to do? I would love to talk to you. I would love to know your story, and don't tell me you don't have one, because I don't believe you. You are alive. You have lived. You have a story. You have tales of how you lost the ones you loved and met the one you are in love with. You have been a good son, or an angry rebel. Slowly, the world has tried to shape you, and you have sometimes struggled, and sometimes relented, until you have come to be the unique combination of qualities, personal traits and quirks and beliefs that make you, YOU. You have battled deadly enemies in the school playground, and suffered heartbreak and loss in college, you have suffered humiliation and tasted glory in your profession. You have looked into the eyes of your child and seen your dreams coming true. Or perhaps you have done none of those things. Perhaps you have faced all those situations, but they have been so different for you that you cannot conceive the emotions I have been describing. Either way, your life is what the epics are made of, and I would so very much like to know you.

Thank you for listening


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tooth Trouble

Ever since I was a wee boy I have held the wisdom tooth with a mixture of terror and awe. I would hear horror stories from adults (adults!! They were not supposed to feel any pain!!!), about how the sprouting of their wisdom teeth brought them to tears and made them beg for the sweet merciful release of death. I awaited the whole deal the way teenagers in Hollywood movies wait for Freddy Kruger or that masked guy from Scream - with sheer pants shitting terror. In fact, I attribute my complete inability to get laid during my teens and early twenties to fretting excessively about wisdom teeth. It is not sexy.

Aaaand then it happened. It throbbed for a few days and then presto! New tooth! And another. I was on a roll. I had perhaps the most painless sprouting of wisdom teeth in my immediate family and it was no doubt a result of their combined curses that I found myself, at the ripe old age of 28, in a dentist's chamber for the first time in my life.

See, what had happened was, my wisdom tooth (yep, THAT son of a bitch FINALLY fucked me over) decided to explode. Well, not explode exactly, but one morning I woke up to discover that my healthy tooth had suddenly crumbled in parts, revealing jagged edges that looked mildly uncomfortable and felt like something Vlad the Impaler could be proud of. Of course, I realised this required immediate medical attention without which it could become much, much worse, so I did the responsible, mature thing. I ignored it completely and hoped that unlike any other tooth in history, it would heal itself. Also, I hoped my wife wouldn't notice.

What it looked like

What it felt like

So yeah, three days later my wholesale response to any question was "AAAARRRGGGHHHHHHH". That was when my family began to suspect. The hunt was on for a dentist of some repute. The local guy was discarded when our maid said he wasn't very good. When a person with teeth the colour of sunflowers in spring say a dentist isn't up to the mark, you listen. She isn't choosy.

Anyway after a day or two of hunting and more pain, I was standing at the entrance to a dentist's office, looking into a room that resembled a sophisticated torture chamber more than anything else. Sure, the upholstery was a gentle blue, but it was a blue mixed with the tears of a thousand victims. I was apprehensive.

The wait was about a decade or so, every second of which the jagged edges of my teeth spent getting jaggedier and jaggedier. I entertained myself with murderous thoughts about mother nature. Upon receiving the call, I walked into the previously mentioned chamber and settled down on a comfortable reclining chair. The man turned out to be an extremely soft spoken individual with a budding bald pate and a polite little moustache that barely moved when he spoke

"What seems to be the problem?"

He nodded with understanding and shoved a tiny little bent mirror in my mouth. I made myself comfortable, thinking this was as bad as it was going to get. If you are at all a student of irony and foreshadowing, you will know this was not the case.

My first clue was when he picked up a tiny little drill with the easy, quiet confidence of a man who knows HE is not the one who was going to have a spinning, sharp, pointed instrument of condensed pain jabbed into the softest part of his body that did not involve genitalia. My second clue was when he actually DID shove the drill in my mouth, all the while saying in a soft voice "hold still, hold still and relax, hold still and relax and keep your mouth open", like one of those lunatic serial killers with a fetish for victims who hold still and relax.

"I would you fucking sadist, but I have a fucking drill shoved in my mouth!!!" was what I wanted to say. Unfortunately what I did say was "AAAAARRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!". It must have sounded like an encouragement, even a cheer, because he attacked my teeth and gums with renewed vigor. Upon seeing I was in considerable pain (maybe the tears streaming from my eyes tipped him off) he advised me to hold still, relax and keep my mouth open. I complied. After what seemed like centuries the whirring stopped. The drill was out of my mouth. I was instructed to empty the contents of my mouth in a basin next to the chair. After spitting out what seemed like Edward Cullen's breakfast, I was admonished gently for not spitting with better aim (some of the blood had streaked the edges of the basin). Resisting the urge to take the drill and stick it where it was never meant to be stuck, I meekly left the chair, took the prescription and walked out of the office, shaking with pain, humiliation and rage.

Which lasted all of 2 minutes, at which point I realised my teeth weren't jabbing into my skin anymore and it was greater comfort than a thousand soft pillows fluffed by a thousand soft hands. Seriously, if you are having tooth trouble, go visit a dentist ASAP. Worth it.

If you survive.