Do you remember when you noticed me noticing you on that train platform? Well, I wasn’t just noticing, but staring really. If you did see me, you might be inclined to read me out.
Dear stranger, I look because I am curious.
It comes from beneath me. I want to understand what you are made of and who made you who you are. Why is it that your hair doesn’t obey and why don’t you try to make it. And what would your mom say if she knew you are wearing sneakers with your fine suit. Does your frugal dinner on the train mean you live alone? Do you hate eating alone and is that why you prefer to eat in these filthy trains surrounded by prying eyes like mine?
By observing you, I also hope to guess when is it that you started to look like a cartoon character — your features are so … precise, so sharp. At what point did your exterior simply surrender to it? And are you even aware of that? If not, what did you do as a child (if not watching cartoons)? Were you actually happy? The crevasse between your eyebrows says ‘no’ while the cute wrinkles starting at your cheek dimples say ‘yes’. You would understand my confusion.
Are you aware of how perfectly contradictory you look?
For example, when you get your phone out of your inside pocket, glancing through the window, you look so elegant, so charming. And yet, you shatter the illusion of perfection when you drop it on the floor.
Dear stranger, please finish eating your food and then write that email you forgot to at work.
And also wipe your mouth. There are a few bread crumbs in your short grey beard. Wait, what am I saying? Leave them there – I am starting to grow attached to these small witnesses of your imperfection.
Dear stranger, I just wanted you to know, you are beautiful.
Why are you looking at me like that? I just said …
Yes, I have always been like this. Brazen. Shameless. Defiant. Thank you for noticing.
And, more than anything, thank you for not being upset. Your eyes give you away. We could be friends, I know. We could take over the world, I know that too. But let’s not just do that quite yet. I have to get off at the next stop.
Dear stranger, I guess what I wanted to say is ‘thank you’. Thank you for allowing me to pry and observe how magnificently human you are.