My eyes lift from the ground and meet a gaze stretching from a stranger’s eyes. Our eyes plunge in to each other’s souls, evidently sensing a strange but deep familiarity. His plea for a few coins and something to eat are accompanied by a crooked deflated smile. I watch him intently as every line on his face turns into words. Fragments of the chapters of his life escape his eyelids, oblivious to him, every time he blinks. At this moment in time, realisation hits me over the head and I know that everyone including this man has an unread story laying in their hearts. In my mind, he could very well be a book on a dusty mahogany shelf just waiting to be read beyond its cover.
Curiosity pinches me every time I think of the man. I wonder where he comes from and where he is going to. I wonder what tragedy left him out on the streets longing for his stories to rise tall and into the sky to give him a place to stay. And most of all I wonder why people are so weary of strangers? Why they do everything in their power to exile them from their presence. Are strangers really danger? Or do those who exile hold danger in their arms like a new born baby. What is the difference between strangers and people we know anyway? To me strangers are just people whose stories have never been read and illiterate people are the only ones who seem to be running away from the bookshelf in ignorance.
Observing the man gifted me a pair of reading glasses and every time I walk through a crowd of people I read stories embedded in crooked smiles and limping legs. I look into eyes and see tales of the moment written in colour. Instead of being clustered and reeking of sweat, crowds are now colourful libraries whose shelves are filled to the brim. Crowds demand a solemn silence from me and I can’t help but stick my head in mobile books and get lost in between their pages.
When I find myself staring into my reflection, questions pop out of my mind and into my mouth. I mouth questions I may never completely have the answers to. What story do I tell? How many pages of my life can be read through my appearance? Do people see the insecurities I have shoved into the pockets of my tight jeans. Am I an open book?
I now know that not everyone would like to be read despite the fact that they are books. Some stories are better told silently, as even after a page has been ripped out of its spine, the part of it that still remains tells two visible tales — one of truth and one of pain.
Eyes contain oceans of stories deep enough for one to drown in. So I’ll look into your eyes when I speak to you. I’ll start drowning as soon as you blink. Maybe that will distract me from never knowing what the ending of your story will be.
Tell us: If people looked at you, what story would your appearance tell?