Melancholy in a micro bus

The driver he cast a furtive glance away from the road at me, sitting to his left, near the gear. From the corner of my eye, I can see he looks puzzled at the sight of a teardrop sitting below the corner of my right eye and atop the ledge of my cheek bone. Nothing in the rest of my appearance and composure would suggest a teardrop.

His puzzled look wonders. But he just as quickly turns away and puts his attention back on the road and on the wheel. He sees hundreds of people everyday. He can’t stop time and ponder the story and tear drop of one.

Had he asked, I would have told him all the things that made me melancholy.

The music he played made me melancholy. It was some kind of wailing Nepali tune, the kind that some micro bus drivers play (the one prior to this ride had played Nepali hip hop which also made me melancholy; what happened to your promise to always love me? a nasal, male voice repeated again and again and again on a loopy track, now I see you happy with another man…blah blah blah).

A memory of my late father made me melancholy. A memory of him sitting in a micro bus. With all the dignity reserved for a king. Then memories of fulfilled and unfulfilled promises. In the end that is all we are. A few promises, fulfilled, and unfulfilled, a pinch of loyalty, kindness, and dignity. A few salty tears. Memories. And stories.

In that memory inducing micro bus, I remembered a few tears at the corners of my father’s eyes when we had said our goodbyes – for the last time – for this time. Precisely five to seven gentle teardrops rolling down ever so slowly, ever so rhythmically, cascading like liquid Balaji diamonds, only they are murkier than diamonds, down the corners of his eyes. His high cheekbones could not dam them so they flowed downward, and eventually they dried. They were not very big, the teardrops, he must not have had many left in him at that time, the fluids quickly diminishing inside him. Till he was sapped dry. Down to his bones. All the salt water taken out of him. Like Osmosis I studied about in class nine Biology in a class with Miss Sinee Hung, who always talked to me for what seemed like hours after class.

“Osmosis is the spontaneous net movement of solvent molecules through a partially permeable membrane into a region of higher solute concentration, in the direction that tends to equalize the solute concentrations on the two sides.”

Music and memories are a tear inducing mix. Add sitting in the front seat of a micro bus which is in itself a fairly hypnotic and contemplative experience.

But he didn’t ask. So I flicked away my tear.

Flicked. Struck or propelled (something) with a sudden quick movement of the fingers.

Flick. Strike or propel (something) with a sudden quick movement of the fingers.

That’s the best way to deal with a renegade teardrop in a public micro bus. Allowing oneself as much dignity as possible without denying one’s brief state of melancholia.

Melancholia.

a feeling of sadness and depression
: a mental condition and especially a manic-depressive condition characterized by extreme depression, bodily complaints, and often hallucinations and delusions

But soon, a smell, a smell I cannot quite place my finger on takes me right out of my temporary melancholic state and brings me back to “reality”.

That smell. Dust. Smoke. People tougher than metal.

Kathmandu.

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