Don’t take the title seriously. I have no intention of listening to your troubles, as I feel I have a tadpole in my brain trying to grow into a frog. Okay, it wasn’t meant to be that graphic, but I have, for the first time been a recipient of that thing called a ‘classic headache,’ as my boss enlightened me in his infinite wisdom.
My reading of the situation is slow death by information overdose. It’s not just this magnum opus day after day. It is a collective of magnum opuses from friends, family, and some randoms that I have to process at an alarming rate.
Let me make it simple. When the mother wants to talk to the brother, she talks to me. When the father wants to talk to the mother, he talks to me. When the brother wants to talk to the mother, he talks to me. When the sister wants to vent on space and other peeves, she talks to me.
Then there are half a dozen friends who have to update me on their love-life (existent or non-existent), career woes and other existential dilemmas. When a townie wants to hang out in Bandra, he calls me to check, “What are the new cool places?”
Then there are people who call me to find out where jute coasters are available or where does one get Auroville pottery in Bombay.
And you know what? After all that, it is a major effort to pick up the phone and talk to anyone. Sometimes, ‘not talking’ is the best conversation you can have, I told a friend when she complained that I was not in touch. But then I got a lecture on the merits of Vipassana and how I was finally ready for it.
Now I am plotting on how to make it known to people that I have switched off, but I don’t seem to have success there, as they ramble on anyway. I am constantly amazed at how people around me, sometimes total strangers, take me into confidence and tell me their stories with deleted scenes and extra features. Recently on a ride to town with a new acquaintance, I was narrated the graphic details of his love life and also that of his ex-girl friend. And all I asked him was, “Have you found a new apartment?”
My friends were a little hurt at my posting a sequence of “phone fatigue,” “who invented talking,” and “contents under pressure” on my gmail. One of them (the daily download) instantly posted a message saying, “Is sms and chatting okay?”
The funny thing is, the last time I looked in the mirror, I didn’t look particularly benevolent. Neither did do I have a samaritan aura. That is the sister’s department, not mine. She is the healer. But it was she who told me, “You are actually a good listener. It’s true you look distracted, but you also hear what is not told.”
Good listener? I have the attention span of a five year old.
And to top it all, there are the acquaintances who emerge out of hibernation one fine day to call and ask you, "Wassup?"
The next time someone does that, I am going to say, “My blood pressure”