There are times when all I want to do is to sit inside a shell and not be disturbed. I want to keep observing the world from the comfort of my shell. I do not want to participate in the operations, but take a back seat and see it all unfold in front of my eyes. The shell is obviously in my mind, but I almost can feel it around me. It is cold and moist inside my shell, so I wrap a cotton quilt around me. And with a warm cup of coffee in my hands, I see the world. I see the people.
I am a crab and that’s what I am supposed to do. These shells are my phases. There is one on right now, and I am typing from within it. It is actually quite painful to reach out to my machine and type from within my shell. It is the first time I am doing so. I wanted to shrug off and say, you won’t understand, but may be you will. And even if you don’t, my words have no objective, they seek no audience – no understanding.
The shell is quite comfortable. It is dark inside, but it has a few leaks on its walls from which some worldly light beams in. That’s what connects me to reality. It tickles me from time to time and reminds me that shell is after all just a figment of my imagination. It is also very hard on the outside. So people can have issues breaking though. That is the objective after all – I am in my shell.
In my shell there are some thoughts, my silly companions. The strongest one being my urge to do something different than what I am doing to earn that pay check. A competing one is the fact that it has been one year since I last spoke to Papa. I still speak to him in my mind, and he relentlessly responds. It goes like this. In utter despair I say “Papa.. you there.” And I hear in my ears, “Of course beta I am here.” And then we begin our dialogue. Another one is my interaction with cab drivers. I see them as a kaleidoscope. They share with me real life scenarios, optimism, hope and in some cases regret. I don’t know why I listen. Their stories linger on with me for a very long time and provoke me in many ways.
As an example, my cabbie on Thursday was from Somalia. His mother is half Indian. He has lived in US for 17 years and thinks this place gave him a new lease of life. He had applied to Pune University for an engineering degree in 1976, but his visa application was rejected by the Indian Consulate. He is now a cab driver. I wonder what course his life would have taken, if his visa had been approved.
And so I am in my shell right now, playing with my companions trying to figure out – exactly what course is my life taking right now? Life has not been unjust to me, so I should be using these wins to my advantage. Am I doing that? Am I doing enough or am I wasting time? For the man who is dead, am I living up to his expectations? For the aspiration within me , am I listening to them, or am I slapping them dead with over powering needs of money and immigration status.
At times I wish that this shell became my life. But that is escapism and so I make sure I use this mirror for self-reflection, which magnifies the worldly light coming out of those leaks in my shell. Then the room brightens up, the shell dissolves and I come out of it, a bit more human.