Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Amused by sadness

Not too many people counted him as a friend. Some pretended they didn't know him even if they did. Others wondered what it was about him that made them so unfriendly towards him, so much so that they actually hated themselves for their behaviour towards him; not that it altered their attitude in the slightest, but still, like most of us, they liked to reassure their rational minds once in a while that their conscience was still somewhere within, and that it had not disappeared into the quicksand of convenience.

As for Dilip himself, he couldn't care less. That was probably why.

Suprisingly, if not ironically, he had a very pleasant disposition and a very welcoming countenance. He was a recluse, but then really, he wasn't. The confusion arose because he didn't consider talking as a need, and behaved just so. He was a miser when it came to speaking. He was capable of giving you a most charming smile, but the lips rarely parted, and the words that did come out would be in spurts of twos and threes. Thank you was a favourite.

Often he would walk along the street all by himself, hands in his pocket and a spring in his stride. Purely going by his face and the teenage-eyed expressions he invariably presented, you would most certainly be convinced that this man must be the happiest man in the world. Didn't he have anything to worry about? Debts? Low-esteem ? Failed love? Broken dreams perhaps?

On the few occasions that a stranger was sufficiently intrigued to ask what kept him so happy all day, he would only chuckle and grin. Where it mattered deep inside, though, a sequence of the tragedies in his life would quickly make a sort of cameo appearance. In those two seconds, he would experience a chilling numbness. It was as if all his heart's grief was made a million times more intense in those moments so that surviving without more than a reluctant tear-drop would be close to conquering death itself. No he couldn't be indifferent to pain, no he couldn't ever be the same again, never like us again. But, yes, in his own world, where happiness and melancholy were solely dependent on him and came from the choices he made rather than the consequences of those choices, he slowly learnt - as a baby learns to walk - to be amused by sadness.

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