I stand on the other side, my hands pressed to the glass wall, watching them go about their lives. They move around with such grace. They laugh and converse with such ease. It seems like the most natural thing in the world. I observe, and on the good days I try to learn. After all, that too is a skill. Sometimes I mimic them and get it right. And sometimes they don’t hear me from here. I lose all eagerness to be a part of anything. It becomes too complicated to grasp – the rules that govern their interactions. These are the days I move further away from the wall that divides me and the rest of the world. I keep walking, allowing the distance to grow with each step, until I reach the point of safety – until I’m certain that my frustrated screams will not travel over to the other side.
Solitude tastes sweet when it is a choice. Most days, I allow the silence to wash over me, like waves that take away all the dust from the daily meaningless interactions with the world. It calms my frazzled nerves that dance all day. But then, times like these make me question myself. The line between solitude and loneliness blurs. And sometimes solitude feels like a self-imposed isolation from other human beings. Like an excuse for my shortcomings – poor social skills.
A yearning takes hold of me. How amazing it must feel to be able to walk into a room and just talk – to begin a conversation without the fear of having to ransack your brain for appropriate things to say. When such thoughts flutter through my mind, I simply smile and at times laugh, because I fear that if I don’t, the tears that I’ve managed to hide for so long would finally find their way out and there would be no stopping them. It pains to not be heard, to not be seen for who you are. A sort of familiar sadness sets in at the thought that a part of me will always remain hidden from the world’s view.
But along with that sadness exists a relief. I came to realize that deep down, I cherish this too in a strange way. Knowing that your thoughts are unknown to the people around you gives you a sense of control. You get to choose what to reveal and what to keep to yourself. At times people think that they’ve got you all figured out. On such occasions, you hear a voice, from the darkest corners of your mind, let out a scornful laugh. In a sad way, to gloat at their ignorance of who you are compensates for the feeling of inadequacy that haunts you.
Although this is one of the reasons for the relief, it goes beyond this insignificant pleasure you derive out of it. The relief rises from the fear that is rooted deep within. With experience, we learn that people are never careful with the things we share. Despite their promises and reassuring words, they end up breaking every little thing you trust them with. We realize that what we do not let in, cannot destroy us. Those who don’t know us, cannot use their knowledge of who we are, against us. The walls that we build, stand for a reason. Anything that carries with it the risk of damage demands to be protected.
In the battlefield of war, the armour safeguards the fragile mortal body from injury. Similarly, in the battlefield of life, our inscrutable nature safeguards us from destruction. Our biggest strength lies in the fact that we see without being seen. Being invisible becomes a gift when used strategically. It helps us slip past a lot of potentially damaging human beings, unnoticed and unscathed. We need to stop seeing our impenetrable nature as a liability. Capitalize on this seemingly disadvantageous “weakness” of yours. Because vulnerability needs opaque screens to keep the predators out.
As we continue to build walls around us, higher and higher, let us not forget the gates. Without one, we would be a lot safer – for no one can enter easily, but we cannot leave either. We would only be trapped within the enclosure of our own fears and insecurities. The very air we breathe will suffocate us and cause our death. We should never let our need for security turn into paranoia.
Our high walls might not drawn in many visitors. But for some of us, it is never about the numbers. It is never about scratching the surfaces of many. It is about delving into the depths of a few. It has always been about the few and their willingness to step into the unknown and draw us out of our confinement. To help us trust just one more time. To help us believe that not everyone is out to get us. To help us see that there exists a world on this side of the glass wall too. One that is filled with those of us who don’t belong – the outsiders.