I noticed her from the corner of my eyes.
I was travelling home in metro after a hectic day at office when I saw her. She had a perfect face. Round, adorned with a red bindi on her forehead. She wore sindoor and mangalsutra. She is married, I smiled. I looked away and started reading what Catherine Earnshaw was blabbering about.
‘She entered and approached the hearth. The expression on her face seemed disturbed and anxious. Her lips were half asunder, as if she meant to speak, and she drew a breath, but it escaped in a sigh instead of a sentence.’
I picked up my phone to look for the meaning of asunder when, again, I couldn’t help looking at her. She was doing something with her hands. And then I looked at her eyes. She was crying. I immediately looked away because I didn’t want to be caught staring at her misery.
Maybe she is stressed. Monday(s), I tell you. A bad day at office, we all have it.
I couldn’t go back to Catherine’s world (I am reading Wuthering Heights), I stole another careful glance at her.
It’s interesting how a crying person catches everybody’s attention. Will it be unethical to say that it piqued my interest? Well, I meant no harm. It was intriguing to see her there crying in a public place. Is she not worried that people can see her tears? Is she not bothered to think that she will be perceived as ‘weak’?
Her tears rolled down her cheeks effortlessly. She was deeply hurt and yet she was liberated. Straight out, without any fear of assumptions that people will make of her.
It can’t be office stress. She must be having a troubled marriage. Domestic violence? I looked at her hands and arms for any signs of assault.
Then why is she crying? I felt sorry for her. She continued scratching her hand, oblivious of her surroundings, unaware of how many people looked at her, pitied at her, felt sorry for her. Just like me.
And then she picked her phone and changed the song on her playlist. Oh! She is breathing. She is listening to songs, it shouldn’t be that bad. Her husband must be in army, probably she is missing him.
But why all so mournful in public? Why show people a sign of your weakness?
Just as that thought crossed my mind, our eyes met. I looked at those auburn eyes and it was as if she answered my accusation- I am not weak.
And as quickly as she came, she went back. Into the trance, into her own thought bubble. It was my turn now, to stare into the blank space. Why tears are associated with weakness? Why anybody who is crying is looked down with pity? Why not give it the same feeling as we give to our laughs and smiles?
If you put too much pressure on a twig, it will break, right? Tears come down when the person is unable to handle what was unbearable for so long. They were strong for enough time.
Just as happiness is associated with heights, why don’t we associate sadness with roots? Won’t it become meaningless if the tree grew without its strongly held roots? The higher the tree goes, deeper are its roots. That’s the proportion which nature maintains.
Should that not be same with humans?
Why doesn’t sorrow portray strength? Shedding tears for something lost is a sign of the overwhelming grief. Moreover, the one who cries alone, they don’t pick people for their troubles. They do not play the blame game. They just resolve to be a better person.
I felt joyed at the realization.
The announcement told me that next stop is mine and I stuffed back everything from my lap into my bag and moved towards the gate. Surprisingly, my subject rose too. She was getting down at the same station as mine. Nice!
Somebody from behind asked her- ‘Will you get down here’? And she replied ‘Yes’. I heard her deep voice. She was bold. There was a hint of resoluteness. Like she pulled herself back from all the chaos. Going back home to her normal self, leaving crisis behind.
She reminded me of my mother. I always thought mothers have some supernatural ability to do that. They have some courage box which they keep handy from where they pull off all their strength.
My Sherlock instincts wanted to see more, think more. So I glued myself to her route. I had to take a detour after my stealthy stalking took over, but who cares!
She was one of those persons who would look into the mirror, shriek at the person on the other side and come back with poise. Ready for the world.
I followed her to the street where she vanished into darkness. I could see her silhouette. Her gait was fearless. She wore heels but she walked fast. It was hard to imagine what brought her to tears.
I didn’t want to guess anymore pitiful reasons, I just drew strength from her.
For myself; to cry!