Sometimes we go to a place and wonder whether it just appeared out of nowhere or always existed there. We go on with our humdrum, hurried life without noticing many things and people around us. Their existence does not exist for us!
When I was in college, I discovered a very fascinating thing – a Human Size Glass Dome. Whenever I was utterly bored in the classes, I fixed my gaze on my professor and put an imaginary glass dome on. Voila! I am impregnable after that. For people outside the dome, I am listening, understanding, and responding but actually, I feel nothing. This glass dome is a darling discovery of my student life.
But I guess I always have this dome on. It’s just I do not realize it often. That is the only explanation I have for places, things and people getting unnoticed. It is not like I notice and then decide not to notice them any further. My glass dome is my only excuse.
I had some letters to post recently and went to the campus post office. I always knew the place but never noticed it. I could tell you where exactly it is but if you asked me to describe it, I could not. I could not recreate the space in my head or recall any associated feeling or thought. I guess I had my glass dome on whenever I passed by the place.
Standing in the queue waiting for my letters to be stamped with blaring Coke studio new release playing in my iPod, I was trying to thicken my glass dome. I hate noisy, crowded public places but I learned to endure them and I guess that is when I realized my power of creating custom glass domes. Its thickness and transparency are very circumstantial. It can get as thick as soundproof tinted glass and as thin as a perforated plastic sheet. If needed I try to thicken the dome with music, books, or just some random thoughts in my head.
I was anxiously waiting for my turn as I could not bear the uncomfortable gaze of an uncle chit chatting with an Aunty who was looking at my bare legs and judging me for my shorts. I had my thickest glass dome on. But that was not enough. I had my loudest music on. Still not enough. I was in search of something where I can just fix my eyes so hard that it becomes real. Yes, that actually happens! If you look at something with all might, it comes to life. It does. If it does not, then your gaze is not strong enough to blow the life in the object.
My eyes started peering all over the room and fixated at the lifted awning window fixed on the top, it had a reflection of the street upside down. All the men walking on the street were walking upside down. It was an interesting enough sight to thicken my glass dome further. On the edge of the glass window, I saw a rabble of beautiful purple butterflies dappled with hazy green dots and pitch dark contouring at the edges. Such a bewitching sight! Reflection could not do justice to it. I moved my eyes in their search. There they were sitting calmly on the neck of the lady stamping letters. She has butterflies for pets. How romantical is that?? But why would she tame butterflies?? Aren’t they supposed to be untamed and roaming around kissing all the flowers in gardens and woods?
The lady adores them so much that her attire was in perfect harmony with the color aesthetics of her pets. Her dress had same purple shade of butterflies’ wings with black border which she paired with green dotted earrings. She was a tasteful lady who knew how to express herself. I guess her butterflies changed colors daily. Yes, that is why she synchronizes her dress with them. How fascinating is that? That is her way of merging her human life with butterfly’s willful life. This must be like getting the exact feeling butterflies get when they fly far and wide in the search of flowers whose enslaving fragrance they just cannot resist and become too feeble to continue their search any further. Search for that overpowering flower is the eventual goal of a butterfly life, I prefer to believe this. She appears lost in thoughts while her hands are stamping letters with the precision of an automated machine. This lady here has attached her life to butterflies and is experiencing all that these butterflies are feeling right now.
But why would someone attach her life to such an ephemeral creature? Butterflies live only for a month on average. Isn’t it sad that she will experience the search of that overpowering flower in the deep woods only for a month or maybe lesser than that? Yes, she can have memories of those long and wide flights after that. She can then recreate the flight if she gazed into the sky with all her heart. Yes, she can! That is the whole point I guess. Aren’t all the things in this world transient? We humans are silly if we fancy for unending, undying things.
Nothing is never-ending! Not my gaze or my trail of thoughts or the post office queue or the life of butterflies or the judgment that Aunty is passing on my bare legs or the uncle lusting over them!
“165 Rupees Madam, and please give me change!” The lady asks before stamping my letters.
I pay her with a broad smile she is not used to of.
“You have very beautiful butterfly tattoos!” were my parting words to her.