Nobody With Whom to Shelter in a Storm
August 21, 2012 § 137 Comments
From yesterday’s Times:-
Two prime plankton humiliations in the past few days. First, one happily married friend asked me, in front of other marrieds, “for the latest updates” on my love life, and when I was forced to admit there were none, which was bad enough, she pressed on.
“But what about that man you were having some dates with?”
“They came to nothing.”
“But, you must at least have a good story for us, no?”
“Well, no, not really,” I replied, rather flustered and boot-faced.
I suppose it’s my own fault for having made good stories out of my dating disasters in the past. The difference is, I like to choose how and where and to whom I tell them, rather than to be asked to relate them by way of a sport to be enjoyed by the There But For the Grace of God brigade.
The second humiliation – or, perhaps, more, moment of poignancy – was whilst sitting with friends under a beautiful awning watching a warm continental storm. The rain was swishing down and lightening rent the sky. My Indian friend began to quote in Hindi from Tulsi’s epic poem of Ramayana. The lines described the arrogant thunder furiously roaring in the sky. The narrator referred to the fear he was experiencing in the face of it, without his beloved. My friend recited it in a beautiful sing-song voice before translating it into English. He then hugged his wife, and said he had no such fear as he had her. He told the mutual friend that we were with that she, too, had no need of such fear because she had her husband. He then turned to me. This friend, who has a reputation for oratory, was uncharacteristically reduced to a stumped silence. He faltered for a moment but quickly came up with, “You are all right because you have all of us!” They laughed. I appreciated his hasty diplomacy, and laughed too, but it is moments like that which dig deeper than I would wish. Of course they are not meant unkindly. Indeed, my friend was trying to be quite the opposite. But somehow these blows are dealt when one is least expecting them, and manage to punch one full in the face. There are those who say I shouldn’t be so sensitive. But they are invariably those who have a beloved, with whom to shelter from the storm.
Later, my friend spoke of a proverb in Sanskrit which maintains that one is the optimum number of people for meditation; two for travel; and three for singing. So that’s travel out for me then. My children are going away soon for several days. People urge me to go on a trip of my own. But with no companion? Not impossible, of course, but certainly less appealing. If the proverb is anything to go by, it’s a life of meditation for me.