Fear

Often I don’t foresee any disconnect between what I say and what others hear, and feel assured that my words are being perceived in the same context that I intended them to be. So, it troubles me when I have to clarify misconceptions about my intentions. What saddens me is not the misunderstood content, but the thought, “Is that what you have been thinking about me all along?“. Such conflict in perceptions vitiates or nullifies for me any previously laid foundation of kinship; and I can’t help viewing any past conversations or interactions through the distorted perception of the other person.
Even when the doubts get cleared, all future interactions get tainted with a nagging fear of being misunderstood again. I don’t hold any grudge against the person who misunderstands me, such conflicts are fairly common, and quickly forgiven. But they contribute to self-doubts and heightens my awkwardness in dealing with people. Being an introvert, it takes me paramount effort to establish new friendships and connections, and misunderstandings generate questions about what I am doing wrong. I rely on my instinct to decide the people I feel safe enough with to rely on, open up to and consider as friends. When the instinct proves false, I get the impulse to go back to a shell, surrounded by my books.
I am quite upfront and not used to carefully measure my words, but when misunderstandings occur, I hesitate with what I have to say. They restrain me, and I can’t just be myself, and that is never a good feeling. What hurts me though is that I lose the opportunity to continue getting to know some wonderful people, but I have no idea how to overcome my fear of being misunderstood again. I am not averse to giving people second chances, I am afraid of taking up second chances myself, lest it leads to even greater distress and anguish. I isolate myself due to that fear, but I don’t want to.

The One About Skinned Knees, Distractions and Absent Lovers

Two decades ago I barged into a class and under the scrutiny of fifty pairs of eyes that had turned towards the door, I tripped and fell. I didn’t pause for a single second on the ground, and dashed towards my desk, trying to overlook the classmates who sniggered. And it was only when the teacher shrieked ‘Your socks are soaked with blood!’ I looked down at my bloodied knees. The wounds gaped wide enough to require sutures but I was too preoccupied with my embarrassment to feel even the slightest stab of pain. As everyone fussed over my injury, caressing my head, and offering me a glass of water, I felt the pain in my legs explode. That’s what I remember from that day. If you don’t dwell on it, the hurt is negligible. I took to suppression as a coping mechanism against injuries and setbacks; I don’t conceal or run away from hurt, but face it with an essential detachment, like events unfolding in the life of a close acquaintance where I have a ringside view of everything but I am spared the pain. I don’t dwell on the ground to look at my bleeding knees.
February was tough. I lost a sister, an important plan fell through, a close friend disintegrated into depression, and I witnessed (and still witnessing) a career-related legal drama. If I allow myself to take it in all, the chaos would choke me. But over the years, my mind had adapted to detach and distract itself from the dreams that crumble, the people I lose or the ennui of everyday existence, filing them away in neat little cabinets. Life is too short to mourn about what happened and what didn’t. I am yet to be loved; I am yet to achieve my goals. There are so many places I haven’t visited yet; there are so many books I haven’t read yet. I go from one day to the next, concentrating on what is and what would be. The past can’t be crammed into my life.
I extrude the unpleasant by replacing it with small moments of pleasure. A day after my elder sister died, I felt guilty about the happiness that bubbled up in my chest on seeing the new and vivid bougainvillea blossoms near my home. On the days when love disheartens me, I write about love. I read wherever and whenever possible. The calming monotony of laps in the pool or feet pacing on a long walk is something else that I look forward to. My ambition had blunted in the recent years, and I am trying to revive it; but all the while reminding myself that it is just a job. I am not one of those revoltingly joyous and perky individuals brimming with optimism, but I refuse to drown in despair too. Life is just normal; sometimes I create my own happiness, and sometimes it creeps in unexpected.
 
I take solace in the unusual; even the absent lover has a peculiar charm. It can sometimes morph into a constant and subtle longing for him to witness the world with me, to witness me, to let me witness him. These are the moments when I walk about interposing minutiae of my idea of him into the world around me, blending the two seamlessly. Today I drove to IITG and spent few delightful hours walking the large green grounds and catching up with old friends. All throughout I carried him around to hear that song on the car radio, to see that lone black bird on a tree with red blossoms, to be enthralled by that sunset over the vast river, to hear the conversations I had, or to laugh over my hair fanning out weirdly in the wind. Sometimes an intangible absence makes me feel more alive to the world than the tangible objects that crowd it.