Sunday, 21 April 2013

The Conformist


The flight was ready for take-off. She proceeded to Gate Number 2 for boarding. It was commendable how she had managed to fit three years of her life into just two suitcases. No longer was she the girl who needed three bags along with a colourful purse for just a week-long vacation. In these three years, so many things had changed...It is easier to travel light when there are so many things you want to let go off, she realized.

As she neared the gate, the briefcase of the gentleman, walking beside her, slipped out of his hand and fell open. He had probably not locked it. All his files and papers were strewn on the floor. Normally, she would have stopped on her tracks, bent down and helped him gather his belongings. Today, she just walked past him. No one had helped her get back on her feet when she had been down. She saw no reason why she should bestow anyone with such generosity.

She looked at the young mother standing in line. The creases on her forehead were proof enough that the not-more-than-four-year old twins were quite a handful. The mother was having a hard time separating the two from each other – they both seemed to be engaged in a mock wrestling match. Once upon a time, she had been extremely fond of children but not anymore. She could no longer look at the world through the eyes of a child and elude the harsh reality. The time had come to dispel illusions and boldly face the harsh world.

She made her way through the aerobridge, curtly nodded at the air-hostess who smiled at her, and sat down at the seat by the window. It was just a matter of some moments now. She would soon be leaving this city forever. As she fantasized about her life in the new city, the air-hostess tapped her on her shoulder.
“Excuse me, Ma’am,” the air-hostess began. “There is an old lady who gets air-sick while travelling. Would you mind exchanging your window-seat for one on the aisle?”
She rolled her eyes. She knew that the old she would have graciously agreed to the offer. But she wasn’t her old self anymore. She was done being nice to people!
“I am sorry,” she said. “But I really prefer this seat. I do not like being disturbed.”
The air-hostess gave a nod and went ahead making the same request to another passenger on the window-seat. Meanwhile, she reflected on what she had just uttered. There was a time when she loved being in the company of people. Being alone in a place used to terrorize her! Today, she felt claustrophobic around people. The movements of the pendulum from one end to another were indeed an amusing affair!

She was sitting next to a middle-aged woman. “Hello, how are you?” the woman tried making polite conversation. “This is the first time I am flying! I am a little nervous.” She tried smiling at that lady but the smile did not reach her eyes. She, once again, stared out of the window, pretending to be blissfully unaware of the woman who was struggling to buckle her seat-belt. Once upon a time, she used to go out of her way to help anybody in need. Today, she did not see the point in assisting anyone – it did not do her any good.

As the captain announced that the flight was taking off, she breathed a sigh of relief. She was finally leaving everything behind – her old self, her old job, her old “friends”, her old life – forever. It was now time for new beginnings. She would be in a new city; in a place where she knew nobody and nobody knew her. Life had given her another chance to collect her dues. In these three years, she had inadvertently been taught the ways of the world. She was determined to put life’s lessons to good use. She had successfully been conditioned to become a conformist…

16 comments:

  1. Conformist does not necessarily mean to be rude. On of thse days, in the new city, she will learn. Since she will be in the new city where she does not know anyone, she would certainly need a helping hand from some unknown person. Then she will learn.

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    1. I don't think she was being rude :P Just aloof...And yes; new city..new experiences...new belief-systems :) Perhaps, she would find her old self here...

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  2. Divya, conformists generally try to live up to an image of niceness. I would say our friend here is a "non conformist"- I am also trying to become like her while I travel .Recently, I refused to change places on a train to the side berth when a man and his wife with a child wanted me to. Actually I would have done it had it been just the lady and child travelling alone. I felt a bit guilty but then WTH...!!! I was not going to a new life but I am sufficiently old myself now to demand such favors :))) - But good post, Could identify with the charachter

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    1. Hmm :) In her eyes, she was behaving the way the world had behaved with her :P

      Thank you for liking this post :)

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  3. I would love to read this as a short story...and know what happened to make her who she is...how she survives the new beginning etc..it makes a great story :) well portrayed!

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    1. Thanks :) :) Perhaps I will write a short story out of this :) You shall be one of the first who will be asked to read when that happens :)

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  4. nice... really nice... there was a time when i did this:-) and oh it was long long ago...

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    1. What is the "this"? :) And how did you feel about it? Details please ;)

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  5. That's what circumstances can do to you :-(

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  6. Even I was looking for an explanation for her attitude :) Nicely penned

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    1. I purposely left out the "explanations" for her attitude...Explanations do not really get you anywhere :) :)

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