I watched “sideways” recently, and like countless others, what I took away from that movie was the scene where Virginia Madsen and Paul Giamatti talk about their love for wine. And since I had nothing better to do that night, and since those final groping steps towards your bedroom have a way of getting you in a whimsical mood, I wondered why certain conversations start off with 2 people meaning one thing and end up with them meaning quite another to each other.
Of course I only wondered about that for a few seconds, because that night I couldn’t concentrate on anything for too long, and preferred instead to wander along the mind’s path of least resistance, wherever it took me, conversations I’ve had, conversations I’ve wanted and have played in my head over and over again, knowing that they will never come true because not all of us go through life with a talented scriptwriter by the side, and not all of us would even use him if he did exist.
I love the darkness of the night and then I love the few rays of light that takes the effort to penetrate the dusty sheath of the tubelight, all the way through a miniscule opening in the blinds, all the way to about a foot away from you, so that somehow you know you aren’t alone that night, and yet in the privacy of the night you can say all those things you’ve been longing to say to so many people – people you’ve met, people you haven’t met but have carefully created with your imagination; sculptures carefully chipped off by your experience with reality, hoping that someday you will say it in the small lanes near home, in those quiet corners of the world where things are said without the fear of being overhead, and in my mind I say it without fear of being heard by the person it’s being addressed to.
Sometimes it rains, and I draw up the blinds and open the windows to watch and hear it. A sodium lamp in the corner illuminates a portion of the rain, and I concentrate intently , counting the strands of rain and failing abysmally at it. Before long the cacophony that woke me up becomes a rhythm ready to rock me back to sleep, and I start meandering down the path of unsaid things again. I don’t know what it is that is so unsettling about not having said those things, about hiding behind the screen of sobriety and propriety, about sticking to how the weather is but never how else you like the weather, and why that is so, about sticking to how blue the sky is which is about as characterless as a comment can be, but not about making shapes from the clouds, why sometimes you can think of any shape you want and if you look long enough you can almost always find it, and even then sometimes it’s just about the thrill of finding it but never saying anything about why that particular shape was chosen. It’s the difference between looking at a stranger in a shop and turning away when they look at you and smiling at them, between smiling at them and saying that you liked the jam they chose, between saying that and saying that you liked it because of something wholly unrelated. It’s the difference between a stranger and an acquaintance and a friend and a person who will hold your hands through life’s roads and not just smell the roses along with you but also experience all those things that the smell of roses remind you of.
But that’s asking for way too much, because we don’t want to reveal too much, and we stick to characterless sunny weather and empty blue skies. Sure, even after a choice of jam leads to a whole day of innocent revelations and purely incidental catharsis, there’s only a bit of paper with a phone number on it as a memento. But it’s one more form that has a soul that I didn’t create one night when I played god. As it happens, playing god is easier, because you get not only to choose what you say but also its reply. Its not often we find interesting people in coffee shops. It almost only happens in movies. The rest of us dredge along.
But what wouldn’t I do for that one brief conversation where all I say is why I love something, and in those reasons every nuance of me is exposed ? It doesn’t matter where the person came from, or where they were going to go to. What wouldn’t I do for those brief moments of rapt attention, where their presence is comfort and not apprehension ? I’ve had to conclude that the night and the blinking stars and the peeping moon and the ever indifferent clouds have something to do with it, and that as long as I have to come back home before a certain time ( the woes of responsible parents and the guilt of shirking responsibility), I will always wonder.