Walking to the cafeteria from my office, I found myself keenly watching the route traced by a group of students. It seemed to me that they were taking a circuitous route to where they were going. And then, I saw the library. That’s not where I want to go. I mean, I want food, not food for thought, I said to myself. Not, now.
The spinach harper at the cafeteria is usually really tasty. I am sort of hooked between the tomato cheese pie and the spinach harper. Tasty at my budget. Something was wrong today. Not enough sauce probably. Maybe, it was not cooked enough.
There were a couple of girls to my right who were engrossed in solving some equations. Down in the lawn, under a tree was a lady puffing away, quite possibly mulling over something sad. Or so, it seemed to me.
Just finishing my lunch, I walked back to the entrance crossing the coffee shop. The coffee shop attendant was looking for prospective customers and looked expectantly in my direction. As I was picking up pace, he decided I was not a customer and got his attention back to what he was doing.
Just as I was softly chiding myself for not noticing earlier that I had taken a circuitous route (given that I had done this 2 times in a gap of 30 minutes) back to office, I saw him. Propped up in a wheelchair, he was dressed in a crimson tee shirt and was visibly obese. He was bent over the cafeteria table, obssessed with something. I walked in a step closer to the tables and saw pencil shavings on a notebook. A short pencil and a sharpener were in his hands.
It isn’t generally like me to stare at strangers. So I just went on with my normal walking pace crossing him. Turning the corner, it just struck me that there were too many pencil shavings on his notebook. Maybe, I was just getting too imaginative these days. What if there were too many shavings? Who knows? Probably it is some mental condition, I thought. The nearest condition I knew was OCD.
Maybe, he needs help. Maybe, he needs someone to get him to stop. To stop his ritual, his compulsion. Should I? What would I ask? Excuse me, which way to the library please? What would be his reaction? Stop ritual? Stare back and return to ritual? Show me the way and return? Hit back(!) and return? I didn’t know. Who am I to stop him anyway? I found my legs stop and turn back.
Its ok. For once, let me break the routine. Let me take the road I don’t take usually. But laissez faire. I convinced myself. There he was, still bent over. Still sharpening his pencil. A long pencil and a sharpener were in his hands.
Ofcourse, there were lots of shavings. I just walked back across the coffee shop. Picked up the campus magazine in a shelf (Did I tell you I came for that? 😉 ) and walked back again, crossing him. Who was the obsessed one?