THE LONELINESS OF SOLITUDE
The mobile phone rang. It was always set on silent mode. Sanjeev did not want anyone to get to know of his incoming calls. He really reveled in these moments. He sat staring at the screen of his mobile, blinking and vibrating at the same time, emanating an unearthly green hue which lit up the dark room he was sitting in. The number which flashed on the screen was an unknown one. Sanjeev kept staring at it, shaking with excitement.
After the requisite number of vibrations, the call was registered as a missed call. Sanjeev speculated on the identity of the caller. He gave free rein to his mind. Could it have been that girl from college, he asked himself? Or maybe, that pretty, divine angel he had hoped to meet but hadn't been introduced to, at Pradeep's poolside party last Saturday? How about Deepa from his writers' club? It could be her, couldn't it?
His rational self, though overpowered for the most part by the fanciful fool, did manage to breath sense into the entire flight of imagination by voicing the following question: If it indeed was one of these girls he had hoped it would be, how had they managed to get his number? He hadn't spoken to them; not once. All his timid nature allowed him to do was to steel furtive, surreptitious glances at those beautiful girls he fancied, those pretty little creatures, to speak to whom but once he could have given his right arm.
'What does it matter, if I haven't spoken to them even once?' the fanciful self said. 'Deepa could have got my number from the course coordinator. And it wouldn't have been very difficult for her to have done so, either.'
'But why pray, would she have done that?' asked the rational self.
'Well, for Pete's sake, to make my acquaintance, of course!' said the fanciful self.
'To make your acquaintance indeed!' smirked the rational self. 'Have you ever observed her even looking at you?'
'What's that got to do with the probability of this number being her's?' asked the fanciful self.
'I so pity you Sanjeev. What a painful picture you present. I'd love nothing more than to be rid of this association with you,' said the rational self.
'Then be gone, you doubter, you cynic!' said the fanciful self. 'I'd noticed Amrita at Pradeep's poolside party point me out to her friend. They were at a distance. She smiled at her friends reply.'
'Uh huh, wait a minute my friend, but if our memory serves me right, what you term as a smile was actually a derisive giggle, with you being the butt of the joke, no doubt,' said the rational self.
'That can't be true! How could someone as heavenly as that be cruel and derisive?' said the fanciful self.
'It is not her fault; there are people at whom even the Gods smirk,' said the rational self.
'All right,' said the fanciful self, a little hurt at the true recollection of Amrita's mocking giggle, 'It may be so that it wasn't Amrita. But it certainly could have been Shobha. I had overheard her telling Priya that she was having trouble with Chemistry, and what with exams looming large, she would have called me to seek my help. Everybody knows that I'm a wizard at Chemistry.'
'Sanjeev, Sanjeev, you surely know Shobha goes to the best tutorial in the city for extra Chemistry lessons. Now do you remember, you "accidentally" happened to be at the shop outside her tuition place?' said the rational self.
And so this back and forth continued between the two; the one embarking on blissful flights of fantasy, while the other pulling him down to harsh reality. This parley had racked the fanciful self. He was devastated by this right reasoning; by this revelation.
Just then, Sanjeev's phone began buzzing again. He silenced his rational self with ferocity.
'Shh. Will you shut up, you dubious soul, don't you see someone's calling?' said the fanciful self.
'Oh yeah, is that so, sire?' said the rational self, 'Who do you think it could be this time? Could it be Pooja? How about Michelle? No wait a minute, I know who it is; it is Nidhi. I'm convinced of it.'
'Will you leave me be, sir?' said the fanciful self.
'No problem. But why don't you answer the phone,' said the rational self. 'Why don't you speak to these damsels who seem to be so eager to make your acquaintance? Are you scared of hearing a pre- recorded message from the mobile service company, promoting one of their latest offers?'
All was quiet again. Sanjeev sat there in his chair, having silenced his rational self, using the only technique that can be used to quell your own mind- that of inaction. You can say whatever you please mind, you can run hither and thither, mind, but by choosing not to respond to you, I banish you; I obliterate you.
His rational self had been laid to rest; temporarily, at any rate.
And so he sat there, staring at the screen of his cell phone flashing another unknown number. Looking at the sequence of the numbers, his rational self could in the past distinguish between genuine calls- of which he didn't receive many- and calls from the service providing company.
But he had managed to suppress rationality; to banish it from the purview of his thoughts.
Sanjeev had quite deliberately not opted to block unsolicited calls from various agencies and his own mobile service provider. He used to find solace in attributing these calls to people who were desperate to make his acquaintance, who were anxious to speak to him; in conjuring up images of probable callers; in fabricating reasons that they may have had to call him; in imagining conversations that would ensue, if he only answered those calls, while all the time they were mere promotional calls from the mobile service provider company.
But he dared not answer them. His carefully constructed fancy would collapse and he would be brought back to reality; such was the loneliness he suffered. It was the loneliness of solitude.