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Wednesday, June 28, 2006 

Making random connections

I remember the first time when I felt really alone, or should I say… abandoned. It was the scariest feeling in the world. I remember thinking that nobody was going to find me. I was going to die and no-one was going to know that I was dead because they probably would not notice that I was gone. One has a vivid imagination when you are 6 years old. My mother had taken me shopping with her to a department store. It was a busy Saturday morning. I had somehow got distracted and was separated from her. The one minute she was there and the next minute she was gone. I thought I saw someone who resembled my mother and eagerly ran towards her. I panicked when I realized it wasn’t her, and darted off in what I thought was the direction I had come from, and soon found myself horribly lost. It is rather difficult to find someone when all you can see of people is what they look from the waist down. I did not know what to do, so I sat down and cried. People were walking past me in all directions and finally an elderly woman took pity on me and asked me what was wrong. Through the snot and the tears, I managed to tell her that I had lost my mother. I was able to tell her my name and the name of my mother. She took my hand and escorted me to the manager’s office. Walking with her was also scary as I had been brought up not to talk to strangers or to go with people I did not know. One hour later, and after numerous announcements on the public address system, I was rescued by my mother. She cried when she saw me and hugged me so tightly that she practically squeezed the air out of my lungs. I learnt a valuable lesson that day. That asking for help and talking to a stranger when you have run out of options is not the worst thing in the world. And what you imagine might happen is actually far scarier than what is actually happening. When she had finally managed to calm down and regain her composure, her first words to me were, “Wait till your father hears about this. You should learn to pay more attention to what I say to you. (she had told me to repeatedly not let go of her hand). One day your attitude will get you into big trouble”. How right she was… many times over. Yesterday I got into trouble again for not paying attention to what someone was saying to me. I had caught the start of the conversation, but was too embarrassed (polite?) to admit that it was of no interest to me and hence I had no clue of what was being said. Nothing new… spacing out in the middle of conversations is a popular pastime for me. The person had actually asked me a question, and not having paid attention, I responded in what could only be described as utter nonsense. In the process I managed to insult not only the much-revered speaker, but incurred the contempt of all those around me. It is a strange moment when you realize that you are completely alone in a crowd of people and that no-one will be coming to your rescue, at least not this time. An apology and a half-hearted attempt at humour can only take you to a certain point and then no further. From then on onwards it is only you and your own stupidity. I can’t say it was a pleasant experience. It was however a valuable experience... and it sucked!! I don’t know why this incident made me remember those words my mother said to me all those many years ago. Although, at the time I felt exactly like a six year old who had just lost his parents in a crowded mall.

i think it was terry pratchett who said that to children, adults are just the wrong end of a pair of nostrils.

Bad boy, wait until your father gets home.

We all pretend to listen, so often, getting lost in our own thoughts. I've done this, but not--I am grateful--in public situations with a person I wanted to impress.
I've been with my partner so long that alas, both of us tune out from time to time. Then we can play the very wicked game--in which I am talking to him quite rationally, and notice his eyes have sort of glazed over, and can start saying things like "so, I'm having a wild affair with the old guy down the street, and tomorrow we're going away together, riding elephants to the coast, and..." It's fun to see just how absurd one has to get before the other looks up and says "Whaa???"

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