September 02, 2006

Identity

The air too, like the skies, always turns a dull shade of grey when it is overcast and rainy here. Much before I finally started for home, sometime past eight in the evening, what was left of the late evening sunlight was already being given a tough time in finding its way to the ground by the millions of tiny, needlelike drops of rain.

It is a very strange kind of rain, for even when it rains hard, it is more like a shower of micro-sized pins, than the usual mid-sized splotch that we are normally used to. Surprisingly, it was all fine at the first flyover and quite okay at the second one; but it all came to naught after passing under the third one, when I was caught in another of those infamous traffic jams in the rain.

Logically, it has to be an unsavory situation. The windscreen fogs up, the lighting is always lax, traffic crawls along in four unruly lanes and you can hardly see anything, nor can anyone see you. But I adore such situations. I’ve always loved strange, dark places filled with strange dark people, where there are no set rules and everything from your ancestry to your professional status are of no import.

Chasing down such thoughts, I end up with the essential irritant of a question: who am I? I am afraid I don’t have any answers for that. I represent varied things like a decent professional, a wayward and quasi-estranged son, a good friend who is no longer that to so many and a former lover to some others. But, what do I mean for myself? I don’t even know.

I’ve always lived with ideas of what I should represent, but I’ve never known what I actually am. I could almost never identify with the way I look (helped in no smart part by the fact that I don’t look good from any angle), though I could not figure out which look I could have identified with. And I could never believe, even without any indoctrination, in things I was supposed to have believed in when I was growing up.

Flash-forward to now and having been in this city for seven years now, I can hardly identify myself with where I came from or with anything here. Apparently, my accent has gone a bit wonky in my mother tongue, I speak the language here with shades of my mother tongue and my English represents the places I’ve been, the things that I have read and the things that I’ve seen. In a sense, I can belong only to a feeling of being perpetually lost.

But when it all works out fine, there is this most amazing sense of calm and lucidity; for you are moored to nothing and there is nothing to fight against, because you are for and against everything at the same time, thus amounting to a sweet nothingness. When it does not work, well, it is a mess. You struggle to clasp on to foundations, even virtual or non-existent ones, while searching for even a single smell, a familiar feeling or verifiable memory to hold you together.

Meanwhile, the deadlock disintegrates, and after another traffic light, trees, vehicles and blurry lights fly past me. It is quite unsafe, for I can’t see half the things, including vehicles, potholes and people crossing the roads, out there. But I have grown to like uncertainty to the point of it even being quite a flirty relationship. We don’t quite ‘get’ each other, but we certainly do seem to thrive in each other’s company.