I never thought I will have to use words like reality check. But those things are real. They have got to be. It’s like when good times become the norm, they suddenly wake up and remember they have to show up so someone could say, ‘Ah reality check’. Which is what I am going to do. Ah, reality check. It came with an email. Now, when I receive an email from someone I wrote about, my hands usually twitch a bit. Is this going to be good? It has been for a couple of days and I have just about stopped twitching when this unexpected email comes. From a name I did not know. This was not the person I wrote about. This was the person’s mother.
Mother starts it with Dear Cris. But the dearness ends there. Here is an absolute stranger telling me I am an irresponsible young journalist (that’s the silver lining here, the word young), that I have taken advantage of her child’s casual talk and made a story out of it. The story itself is not the problem. Certain lines of it are. And the child here is an adult, about to get married. But I panic of course. I call the person. Person says person is absolutely happy with the story, it is just that the mater is upset by it. But the panic doesn’t die. I write an apology first, but tell person’s mother that nothing has been written without person’s consent. That in fact the lines she objected to were the ones person had specifically asked me to write.
But the email exchange goes on. I forward the first to my boss and as usual, I had not gotten the insults thrown at me. I did not see the irresponsible part, I did not understand the take-advantage part. But that’s the story of my life, I never get insults till it is too late. I am sure the insulters find it embarrassing to insult me anymore. They have to insult me and then take pains of explaining it to me. Much like those who crack poor jokes and then explain them.
All this email exchange is not merely typing sharp words out to each other. It takes something out of you and puts something inside you. No, no this is no drama. Really, I am telling you, this thing called heaviness in your heart is real. I am sure if you go on a weighing machine every time you are upset, you are going to see 10 pounds more. That is the weight of your heaviness, no less.
I twist and twirl in the bed that night, not able to sleep, still composing lines in my head for the email lady. I am told to stop writing, to ignore. I am asked why take these small things to heart. Well, possibly because you can’t tell the small things that they are small and have no business hurting me, so please go away. They don’t really wait for permission to get inside your heart in the first place. And they can’t be thrown out, unless you are one of those yogi types who are said to meditate these guys out and stay detached. I am also glad I wrote to her, because if I didn’t, I would keep composing lines for the rest of my life. That’s what I do. I still go to an eighth standard day to that near-the-toilet classroom we had and tell lines that I think I should have said then, when a group of 13 year old girls stood and mimicked my funny dance steps and I walked in on them. I laugh at it now, laugh at my own non danciness. But my 13 year old self still hurts, and wants to tell things.
Sad, yes, but people are people with their strange little hangovers. I don’t know how many hours I must have wasted telling lines that I should have said and couldn’t say in the far far past. It is a good thing email lady chose email. If she had stood face to face I probably would have done what I did in eighth grade and 20 years later, said things I should have said today.
Mom says these things happen to journalists. Friend says block her. Me, I say, reality check.