""Diana? Of course I remember her. Who could forget Diana? She isn't someone you can easily forget."
"You know Diana? Why, this is wonderful, I haven’t heard from her in a long time. How is she, and isn't she a laugh?"
"Diana? She was the funniest person to have around, you know, life of the party, and always came up with the funniest songs."
"I'd hate to admit this, if it were anyone else. But it’s Diana we're talking about. If she hadn’t asked that question, I would have made a big mistake. She had a knack of asking the right questions, of triggering off unexpected lines of thought. Funny, I never thanked her. Do you know where she is now?”
"I loved Diana. Never told her, though, but I think she knew. That was probably the best thing about her, how something as deep and disturbing as love could be so easy with her. She didn’t love me back, but she accepted it. She didn’t do that which so many other girls do- stay away from you, and say that they don’t want to hurt you, when actually, they just want to display themselves tantalisingly, you know, prolong the pain, bump into you 'by mistake'. Diana wasn't that devious. We stayed friends."
"Diana- her absence made all the difference. The days which she didn’t come to school, nothing was as fun. Conversations died out. She knew how to fill in gaps. She always had a funny thing to say. Its weird, but it never struck us back then how we were all actually missing Diana. But coming to think of it, we always quarrelled on the days she was absent.”
"Diana was such a quiet, sweet girl. Polite and friendly, and always had a nice thing to say to my dad. I'd come home from work, and see this slip of a girl chatting up my father. She took so much of my guilt away. And Dad would have lived for at least 10 years less if it hadn’t been for her company.”
"Everything I love, all that I hold very dear, is a gift from Diana. Almost everything. She introduced me to my favourite authors, to music that eventually obsessed me, to movies that amazed me. I am what I am today because Diana had shown me certain wonders I might never have seen for myself.”
"I agree with what Indu said, but I think I'll add an explanation. You see, Diana had an odd influence over people, she could make them see her point of view, without putting it forward too obviously. So if she said that a certain guy was good looking, and you disagreed, then she would explain, very lucidly, why she thought so. You would go on disagreeing, because Diana had a subtle arrogance about her, and because you obviously don’t want to seem fickle. But the next time you saw that man, you'd see what Diana saw."
"She brought out the life in me. I don’t know what is it about her, but Diana drew me out like a tune. Of course, if my mum heard this, she'd say in disgust, "No dear, Diana played you like a flute, and you let her." But of course I always knew what I was doing. We disagreed, too, but then, we were so similar in so many ways, that that didn’t happen too often. Diana never dominated me, and she could be a jerk sometimes. But she, in her many ways, taught me how to live. And I think it’s to the credit of our friendship, that both of us knew this all along, but I was too proud to admit it, and she respected my pride."
"My daughter was a remarkable person. I had no one who understood me as completely as my little Diana. Even when she was such a small girl, Diana would always know when I was sad. As she grew up, she began to understand why. Diana, in her own unique way, kept us together. She deserved much, much more love. She changed us, but she remained the same."
"Diana Jeremiah- such a unique name, isn't it? Like a company, or some famous designer. You have your Dianas and your Jeremiahs, but there's just one Diana Jeremiah. She was, like, this institution by itself, called Diana Jeremiah."
"I think her friends needed her more than she needed them, you know. She sensed a presence, a need for herself in people's lives. She had a purpose in each of these lives, and once she had done her work, she'd slip out, leaving you feeling whole, like nothing's missing."
"Diana drove me mad. Not raging mad, but the kind of madness that’s insidious to your being, a numbness for anything that’s not Diana. I saw her everywhere. And I knew that she'd never be mine. Hell, she couldn't be anyone's, you could be hers, but she wouldn't be yours. I accepted it. I still hold her as an ideal I measure other women against. Maybe that’s why none of my relationships have worked out. Diana is under my skin. She wasn't perfect, mind you, but she didn't need to be. She was Diana."
“This girl? Wait, I know this picture, I took it! No, I don’t know her name, but I’d never forget her face. If I hadn’t taken this picture, I might never have taken up photography. What comes across as a photographer’s feat is actually to the model’s credit. Her face was wonderful. Wonderfully quiet and calm. But the best moment came when that quiet face burst into a smile. You’d think they were two different people, the woman of the quiet eyes and the girl of the dazzling smile. Diana? That was her name? Diana Jeremi…
At first there were only footsteps. Then she heard footsteps and voices.
"Diana Jeremiah? There are three here. There's the old hag in 467, who keeps knitting an imaginary sweater, and that bitch in 881, who thinks she's in her London penthouse, and a nut in 330, who keeps talking to herself, and writes her name all over the room. Which one?”
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
There is this game I play. Have you ever noticed that when you’re traveling by car, and you’re looking out of the window, you catch someone’s eye, and neither of you look away? It used to bother me, I’d think that people are staring at me. Perhaps my hair was too wild or the slap of wind made my madness too obvious. But then I realized, that we both felt the same. I’d stare at you, thinking why were you staring at me, and you’d stare at me, wondering why I was staring at you. That’s when I developed this game.
Its like this. While we are looking at each other, we are in each other’s minds, and we can tell what the other’s thinking. There’s a fragile string of connection, created only by that chance spark that flew between us, that connects our minds. When we have passed each other, we are connected while we keep each other in our minds. The moment I am out of your mind, or you are out of mine, the connection breaks. Nothing can ever recreate it.
But the human mind is ever-sensitive to perceptions. And though sometimes they might seem too haphazard, perceptions sustain themselves on quite a hierarchial basis. Why should such a fleeting glimpse stay? More importantly, why should I want to keep it?
But then, even if I did keep it, so what? You’d have to remember me, too. And how many people know this game? Not many, I judged, from the abject lack of connections I had.
It was the mind of a lonely, fanciful child, given to toying with her own mind when she no other playmates to play with. It was the fancy of a child, rendered lonely by a mind too deep, too vast, and too rich in perceptions to swim in. She gasped for breath every day. I nearly drowned everyday.
No, there is no one person I connect with. I connected with no one. This was a game, a silly, idiotic game, a game to keep my mind from wandering off into the deeper, more pressing issues of my reality. It was an exercise in self-deception, a ruse to convince myself that I was lonely by default, that my emptiness was not the child of choice and imposition, my choice, their imposition. I was lying all the time.
But then, why did I remember those eyes? The face remains a mist, but strangely familiar. I knew what she was thinking, all the time. I remember the lack of expression, created because of the multiplicity of emotions that flitted through them, and the inability of the eye to express all at once. I remember the quiet murmur of battle that cried itself out, I’m sure, over and over again, everyday. I caught her at the exact moment when she looked at me, so it seemed like we’d been staring at each other forever. And then I lost her.
But the vision persisted. I looked away, lest I connect with someone else, and this connection be broken. Those were dull, deep eyes, lacking innocence, naivete, joy, wonder, everything. Eyes burdened with knowledge. I held on, and she held on, too. We both clung on for dear life. It did seem that our lives depended on this moment of clarity, that if this string were broken, we’d drown and choke, simultaneously.
And it was surprisingly easy. It still is, actually. Ages have passed since that one Sunday morning trip, and I still remember her. We can tell what the other is thinking, and, in a sense, have become the best of friends. We argue, gossip, talk and fight within the infinite space available to us within the privacy of our own minds. Her thoughts do not mirror mine exactly, but are like an artist’s interpretation- similar, yet dissimilar. We have never bothered to meet. In fact, if the truth be told, we do not want to. We both strongly believe that the realm of our friendship should not be tarnished by unnecessary physical details. The fact that for each one of us, there is an other, is enough for us.
I have lead a life of apparent loneliness. Never quite the social butterfly, I have deliberately cultivated my inherent shyness into a bubble of self-preservation. Like sour vinegar, or sickly sweet sugar, my shyness has shielded me from much of the vileness of the world around me, and also some of its knowledge. But I am lucky. I have one friend, but one, who stands between me and real loneliness. A friend, who, like Francis Bacon described, is “another oneself”, but, then again, not quite the same as oneself. As I stand in front of a mirror, looking into my dull, deep eyes, lacking innocence, naivete, joy, wonder, everything, I think I can see in them the reflection of another pair of eyes that I first saw a Sunday morning, as a little child. Eyes of another self.