‘A list of ten things you love.’ My friend poised her pencil over a spiral notebook and looked at me questioningly.
‘But I don’t love ‘things’.’ I spoke wryly.
‘Come on.’ She urged. She began making tiny squiggles on the open sheet of paper. She was itching to write upon.
‘Seriously. I have never loved ‘things’. Only people.’
‘But I need to make this list about all my friends. Ten things they love and ten things they hate. Stop being mulish now.’ She glared at me.
‘Ah, now you are talking. I can give you endless list of “things” I hate.’
I closed my book and smiled at her.
‘Ok, shoot. I will start with the hate list first.’ She flipped the page of the notebook and hastily scribbled the title.
‘Hmmm…where do I begin? Number one is- ‘noise’.’
‘Noise? What kind of noise, noisy people, noisy street…’
‘Empty noise. Senseless noise. Meaningless noises that loud people make on non-issues.'
She bent over the notebook and scribbled, not without some show of exasperation.
‘I write it down as -noisy and loud people.’
‘How rudimentary you are. Okay, here is number 2- excessive show of false power that is not serving any purpose, such as bullying, bragging about money, social status. .’
‘People who bully others and brag a lot.’ She spoke aloud as she wrote, deliberately emphasizing on the word ‘people'.
‘Number 3- .domination, subjugation, communalism, racism.’
She thought for while and then wrote down quietly, apparently absorbed in her task.
‘Number 4- violence. Show of violence only to create violence and to disrupt prevailing peace.’
‘Violent people.’ She wrote.
‘Number 5- Waiting. Number 6- resorting to power play in relationships.
Number 7- refusal to change. Number 8- coping with new problems through old ways. Number 9- creating a fixed meaning out of paradox. Number 10-wet towels on bed. There!’
She looked up and we stared at each other for few seconds, then we both broke into a shared laughter.
She looked down again at her list. ‘However, my point is still valid. Basically you hate people, lot many people.’
‘No. I love people. I hate the above mentioned traits.’
‘But these traits belong to people. Would you ever find a chair throwing wet towels on bed or coping with new problems through old ways? ’ She argued.
‘Most of the things that I mentioned in my hate list from number 5 onwards are the things that I have struggled to overcome in my own self.
When I hate these things, surely I will never allow myself to acquire or indulge in them in my reclaimed self.’
‘Hear, hear!’ She clapped. ‘Now let’s come down to the list of “people you love, since you don’t love ‘things’. Come on tell us your sordid love stories.’ She poised the pencil again.
‘Hah, that would not fit into your list of a restrictive 10.’
‘You, wicked witch.’
‘Okay, was this supposed to be a serious session? Am I not allowed to play into the mood of the moment?’
‘No. Be serious.’ She frowned, flicking the page to turn a new leaf.
‘All right! Here they are: “My first cup of morning tea taken with ginger biscuits; fairy lights on trees; old bookshops; perfume counters; bear hugs; deep kisses; January rains; my son’s smile; warm apple pie; my own company; fragrance of fresh rose petals…”
‘Wait. Stop. You are on to number eleven. And these are not 'people' list. These are ‘things’ list, didn’t you say...’
‘Didn’t you say it is about 10 ‘things’, in the first place…?’
She threw the pencil at me, laughingly. I ducked.