The loner

February 05, 2014

Yesterday, while going through an old diary I used for a while in New York, I found a piece I wrote for a writer's group I'd joined for a brief while. In this group, we were given a broad topic each month, the topics being vague enough for each of us to have our own interpretation of it. I don't quite remember what it was that particular month, I think it was 'Being somewhere you don't want to be'. The piece isn't about me, but I did take a teeny-tiny bit of inspiration from school days. Here's what I wrote:

Here I sit in a sea full of familiar faces, and all I can think of is 'I don't want to be here'. To my left, two friends from a foreign land sit and chat in their native tongue. It's fascinating how people gravitate to the familiar. There's a certain comfort in it, I suppose. I look to my right and the girl who was politely answering my questions till now has  moved her chair a few inches to her left, to whisper and laugh with the girl on her other side. Great, I think. Six years after school, and here I am all over again. I'm right back to being the awkward one in the room. And I don't want to be here.

School was tough. The sneers of bullies still haunt me, and I wonder if years from now, I'll remember what that felt like. The feeling of wanting to run away because a bunch of preadolescent nobodies decide that making your life miserable is worth their effort. The feeling of wanting to be someone else.

I had my ways of escaping, of course, and my secret stash of books was on the top of the list. I'd read stories of children my age cycling across the countryside and finding pastures to set up picnics. I'd read about children in boarding schools getting into trouble with the matron, huddling together and chatting when it was actually time to sleep. And for those blissful moments of innocence, I was right there with them; riding my cycle a few paces behind and placing fake mice in the matron's desk. And for those moments, I was happy. School was tough, but I had my ways to escape.

Years have passed, and childhood seems like another story I've read. One where I empathize with the protagonist, but one that I can only read once. Except here I sit all over again, with the demons of my past sitting one seat behind me. Luckily, I have my book with me. I flip through the pages to the part where Emma, the rambunctious traveller talks of her love for Turkish coffee. And I escape once again. After all, there's always comfort in the familiar.

Reading the piece yesterday made me want to illustrate it. Yes, I'd illustrate everything in my life if I could. Since I've been sketching in a certain way for a while, I thought I'd try something different. Variety, my dear, is the spice of life. Or so they say.

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