Came the question.
By default, I would have answered yes.
I was alone after all. Not many people around me – you know – that kind of alone. At least not the people I know.
The question rather repositioned itself. Not a factor of physical loneliness, it seemed to suggest. A factor of the mind, if you will, it said.
It’s the mind’s conditioning isn’t it – the physical isolation, the pangs of seeing something or someone tangible, being surrounded by boisterous activity. My togetherness, I find in the crowded street that I walk alone. People around me remind me of togetherness. But is that the question you are asking at all?
Or is it Richard Bachesque – as, you know, the opposite of loneliness is not togetherness – it is intimacy.
I doubt it.
I didn’t notice the father and son hiding in the foyer of the shop to scare the mother and the daughter, and then all four of them having a great laugh at it all.
I didn’t notice the old man so bent with the weight of his head, and the weakness of his spine that he could hardly see a few feet ahead of him, yet making his voyage to his destination a few yards away.
I didn’t notice the tall short-crop haired guy in the pin-striped black suit with lilies in a wrap, expectant of a great evening, spent looking into her eyes and at her smile.
No, I didn’t notice any of these because I was busy.
Busy with the thought that she is finding her own truth amongst the many truths that she had heard in fortnight. Busy (and glad) in the thought that he struggles with the answers of the questions that were asked three years ago, and I see his struggle even if his answers are, yet, unrefined. Busy in the knowledge that even he misses me, even though his male ego won’t allow him to admit it, to me. I understand that. I was busy in these thoughts. I was busy, with these people.
I was busy feeling the love which I was able to see out of the concern that she had, my pain she felt as her own, even if she was a few thousand kilometres away. As I get busy with the day’s demands, I tend not to notice the pain, but she knows, she feels.
Your question is sly, almost scheming, twisted to elicit a specific answer, a trick question almost.
You would like to pull me down to the definition of loneliness that you believe – the vulgar notion of physical togetherness, which, I often succumb to. Yet, this time, I shall answer you on my own terms. I shall choose to reposition your question in a way, that you wouldn’t.
My loneliness, unfortunately for your consumption, isn’t a factor of people around me. You have made me believe that for ages. But I’ll tell you this; I don’t walk sullen on the street.
I walk with a smile that most people suspect and without words, even question my apparent happiness.
Ask them, your question.