The moment I stepped outside through the front door, I had that familiar chill surging through my veins—the chill that fulfills me every time I leave my apartment and amble on the footpath, reminding me of the freedom in ambling unaccompanied.
The footpath was sparsely crowded—a handful of passersby and some beggars in view —which added to my enthusiasm. I didn’t want to see the footpath teeming with people and have all my zeal disappear. It was nothing unexpected though, finding the street void of its usual bustle, at this hour of the day—the afternoon hour that everyone passes sleeping.
As I ambled, the lyrics of ‘Friends’ sprang to my mind.
You say you love me, I say you crazy—we're nothing more than friends.
Soon, I found myself humming, my head waving and my fingers tapping to the beat.
Haven't I made it obvious?
Haven't I made it clear?
Want me to spell it out for you?
Suddenly I was back in the world, realizing I’d switched from humming to singing aloud. I found a shopkeeper from a bookstore staring at me, google-eyed, as if he was eying a madman's show. Well, what I did was no less insane either!
You’re in the footpath, you stupid! I scolded myself and resumed the walk.
I was humming with caution now, shushing myself the moment somebody passed by. What had happened two days earlier indeed taught me some lesson.
Couple of minutes later, I reached by the ‘Free Platform’—a place where the public meetings of political parties and occasionally the low-budget cultural shows and concerts were staged. The stage was now surrounded by some young guys in flamboyant t-shirts and grey jeans—probably the sound-system-people, judging by their outfit and the big sound system that sat in front of the stage. One of the guys, a mic in hand, chanted “hello, hello” in a deep voice, checking if the mic was loud enough.
I was about to walk past the stage. But right then, ‘Friends’ was played from the sound system, probably for another checking purpose. Spasms of excitement sweeping inside, I couldn’t help making for the stage.
I stood some distance away from the stage, in a corner; I wanted my animated responses to the song—all the tilting of head and tapping of fingers—to go unnoticed and, of course, un-mocked.
And then out of nowhere, a woman, probably in her thirties, jumped up on the stage. She started doing something hard to be termed ‘dancing’—swinging her arms and legs to and fro in an awkward fashion—and screaming the song. Sometimes she circled around herself, sometimes around the entire stage, and, taking me by sheer surprise, made some flawless classical dance-steps as well, which of course didn’t match the beat of the song; but what did match the beat was her being at the highest of her verve, her lively jubilance, her limitless energy.
I walked farther towards the stage and asked one of the sound-system-guys, “Hey, man. Who’s this woman?”
He took a glance at the stage, and then replied, “She’s one mad woman, bro. She does this every time we play something here.” He had a playful, mocking smile in his face.
I saw that reply coming, so it didn’t surprise me that much. I turned back at the stage.
It’s strange that being able to suppress the inner, intense delight is what we call sensibility, and someone who brings those feelings out fearlessly without a shred of hesitation, turns out to be insane.