A Conventional Error

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
An error in conventional practices or a conventional error?

Submitted: March 02, 2015

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 02, 2015



Once upon a time, not because it is really so, but because it is convention. That phrase implies a story, a fairytale or sometimes a legend. I’m no unconventional author, so I too shall say, once upon a time, a time not long ago from the day I started writing this story, but possibly a long time as compared to when you will be reading this.

Yes, once upon time, there was a time of conventions. A time that meant symbols held a certain meaning, actions implied a specific result and phrases spoken in various tones held a multitude of meanings. Indeed there were so many conventions, that being unconventional was one of the most common conventions. Hence, the irony.

This isn’t a satirical monologue, or an introspection into conventional practises. This is the story of people who lived in a conventional era and tried to be unconventional. Before we delve further into the story, permit to take a detour. While the mind struggles to comprehend the scene behind conventions. I shall throw in the idea of perspective. Again, not throw, so much as fling it at you.

For the sake of convention, I shall present perspective in the most conventional style the convention of exaggeration. Do not say you weren’t warned, for to warn before impending doom, is another convention I must adhere to. There will be errors, there will be discrepancies. To err is human, and isn’t being human the greatest convention of them all? It’s a hot sunny day. Hot because it is this side of the hemisphere and sunny because the Sun is out. What day it is I cannot recollect, but for the sake of convention let’s assume it to be a Sunday. So, on a hot sunny Sunday, I stepped out of the comforts and discomforts of my dwelling into the comforts and discomforts of the streets. A short walk across the road, far away from the edges of the zebra crossing, I reach the other side. But it is only half way still. Pause, look to either side, and the action is repeated.

A battle has been won, that of the daily pedestrian and the assortment of vehicles plying across, spewing smoke into the unbearably hot day. The battle between lungs and engines shall soon happen. But today is not that day.

A slightly longer walk later, past the temptation of unhygienic street food and auto drivers who promise to make my wallet lighter, I reach my first destination – the bus stop.

The wait begins; for a particular bus of a certain number is the only one that can take me to the next destination. The clock is ticking, my phone battery decreasing with every new song I listen to, whiling away time, all the while contemplating if I should double back to the train station I so haughtily ignored. My mind weighs the pros and cons, and just as my resolve weakens, the much awaited 4 wheeler, teeming with passengers arrives. With the skill I have acquired due to the repetition of this weekend routine, I jump aboard the bus, and join the group of homo sapiens being squished by the sheer volume of souls headed towards a similar destination. Thanks to a little invention called earphones, blaring music at my eardrums, and mine alone at that, I can pretend to ignore the baby wailing in the front seat, the aunties squabbling in the second row, the unnecessarily loud engine and the conductor amidst it all; selling little bits of paper in exchange for “change” and conveniently ignoring the fact that he must return silver coins to those parting with the Gandhi paper.

But no one will dare oppose him, for he is one among many, upholding the convention of the man in the uniform. I cannot fight him, but I can outsmart him. I do not resist, instead I pay with the exact “change” that he demands. There is neither loss nor gain, but I smile. The second battle has been won.

I do not wish to describe the journey that followed. Not for its lack of adventures but because I am falling victim to the human temptation of laziness. To overcome laziness would be to defy human nature, and to do so would be to defy convention. But convention we must follow.

The bus has now reached its final destination, so I must alight, regardless of the fact that journey is not over; and I have miles to go before I rest. My fellow passengers follow suit. Comrades in arms for the brief 30 minute journey, we now part as the strangers we once were, heading into different directions, following various paths. I do not know where they shall go. Nor do I bother to. But whenever an unfortunate headline is splattered across the newspapers, I wonder. We may have been fellow passengers once, but convention dictates that, that is all we shall ever be.

This next part is the one I have been waiting for, the one I wish to write. But laziness is once again taking over. I cannot fight it, but I can make the battle short. I shall rest my pen and stare at those around me, admire the scenery through the small window. An attempt to cheat laziness, dare I say an attempt to be unconventional?

The act is necessary, the theatricality is important. It might be a risk, an error in judgement. But if it is, then it is only human, and isn’t being human the greatest convention of them all? I wonder though, have I succumbed to convention in my attempt to be unconventional? For now, let this pass. I leave it to you readers to make the decision.

The journey continues afoot. I walk past the many people who move against me, towards the street I have been meaning to traverse all along. I f I was in a hurry up till now, not anymore. My pace slows down.

I first gaze at the numerous fruit vendors, shouting their prices and their wares. They appear to be competing with one another. One stealing the customers of the other. Little so they know that we know that they are one. But they care not. For this little act of deception has its pros. Some of us recognise the ploy, and walk past, silently congratulating ourselves. But those of who pause to study the wares, wither don’t recognise the mirage or don’t care enough to act; for them the merchandise is worth the act. Moving along I am enamoured by the more concrete structures that line the streets. If one offers shoes, the other medicines, if one sells coffee, the other flowers. But I observe the shops less, and the shoppers more. Families out for the weekend, young men sitting in a cloud of smoke, children running helter-skelter towards the ice-cream carts and cotton candy stalls, the occasional car that tries to make its way through the rabble, only to be blocked by the herd of cows that have taken residence in the middle of the street.

The song in my phone changes, the beat is faster. I don’t know if this is by chance or design, either way, I walk faster. The street which was straight and narrow, now curves and widens. There are several alternatives, I may slink into a quiet alley or else strut into a parallel street. There is much to see and even more to explore. The temptation is strong, my mind is wavering, but then I hold strong to the destination ahead. I remind myself, we always have a choice, the choice to go forward or backward, the choice to stop still or run ahead, the choice to do our duty or to shrug it off. Some choices are easy. I won’t go so far as to say that the easy choice is wrong, but sometimes the harder choice could be better, if not for you then for someone else.

To the conventional I say you aren’t wrong. To the unconventional I say, neither are you. But to neither will I say you are right. I may be wrong, but then again, to err is human and isn’t being human the greatest convention of them all?

I now reach my destination. The last battle is won. I shall not tell you where or what my destination is, but you do know that it is just a bus ride and a short walk away. I don’t know if convention dictates this, but all journeys are the same on one front; it is simply a question of a few battles and a dozen choices. I hope I didn’t bore you, but you were warned. To repeat my monologue, is turning into a convention, and convention we must follow. Forgive me if I am wrong, but to err is human and isn’t being human the greatest error of them all?

© Copyright 2018 Annette Francis. All rights reserved.

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