“Nothing external to you has any power over you.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
She stood there – her eyes widened. She saw this day after day yet her amazement glittered with the lights she saw. It was the same set up. She could hear a distinct Sarangi sound in her backdrop. Her eyes pierced through the tinted glass she could never dare to touch. A chandelier sparkled like so many tiny suns dangling together. Doesn't it dazzle the people in there? The question popped in her mind every time she saw it. The dull yellow walls were adorned with some canvas. The colorful lines etched on the canvas made no sense to her.She tilted her face to a side, hoping it might make some sense today but as always it didn't.
It was always lively at this time. The black and golden uniformed men with silver trays and expensive fragile white crockery maneuvered around with perfection. The speed with perfection, nothing ever broke, nobody ever bumped into each other. The food that came out of those metal doors gave a distinct white smoke; she always took a deep breath in a hope to know how it smelled.
Those tables with chairs and sofas neatly arranged; the soft fabric with intricate rich pattern and cushioned backs so that one could lay back and relax. The people sitting always looked so happy, talking, laughing. She could not hear them yet feel the vibrations through the glass. A cake appeared with sparkles burning bright and heads turned; smiles widened - all the lips moved together, hands synchronized the claps; how she always wished to know what those words were; hugging, kissing, wishing, it was always the same, the faces changed, that’s it! The chocolate crumbles were scattered on the off-white table mats. Everyone wished and settled down.
Her eyes moved to another table, the long glasses with golden bubbly liquid clanked together and everyone’s lips moved in sync with the hands that held the glasses up high. The excitement traveled through those sound proof barriers.
A couple in a corner, holding hands, A family with kids holding the menu card taller than them, everyday she saw something new in those old set ups. She didn't know what yet it was very intriguing.
A few silver haired were talking with half baked smiles, the wrinkles on their forehead would appear and re-appear. A few ladies huddled together in a group would smile, talk but she never understood why they touched other’s jewelry and why pride encapsulated that moment. Filling in between were a few busy in their own world with glow on the face; a white or a blue hue, coming from the phone which lit up their faces. They were not bothered with anyone present there; they were definitely not there. Their expressions never synchronized with rest. A few irritated gazes were passed on by the mothers who had given up running after their never tired kids to the never bothered fathers and the action to the reaction was worth not blinking!
The uniformed person would serve the food and everyone would be distracted. The shiny cutlery would now shine and people would now nod more and speak less. The hand gestures, smiles and neck movements made her understand the conversation more than before.
A hand touched her hair and she looked back and smiled. The hand with rough fingers - a familiar touch; she didn't hesitate to hold those fingers. A crumpled newspaper opened before her and she relished every bite. Someone extended her a half finished cup of ice-cream and she happily took it. Finally a cotton rug was spread on the pavement and she lied down with her head rested in the lap. The sarangi tune played once again, a soft and smooth lullaby that made her sleep. A smile floated on her lips as she felt those fingers moving in her hair.
I waited for my bill, I was suffocating; the loud music - why couldn't they play something soft instrumental. Those intoxicating food aromas blended with smoke and sweat and a room freshener failing to suppress those. I took a deep breath every time the door opened to grab my share of fresh air. Those fake smiles and narcissistic people who were judgmental about everything said and not said. Those irrelevant nods pretending to hear while their eyes were glued on the phone made me nauseous. I looked away in hope to see something beyond – and froze for a moment. All I could see was me in search of something in the reflection of the glass. Was that the answer? Look inside rather searching out.