The restaurant is wonderfully crowded. Vibrant, enthusiastic vibes at every table. Food looks delicious, some tables are embellished with wine while others with beer glasses. The clatter of fork and knife against the plates gives life to the dishes. The soft instrumental music remixed with old English songs is fused in the air. There is enough for one to be teleported to a different world, a world where the roads immediately outside this luxurious restaurant are porthole free and have no begging hands for alms. To give the feel of a cosy restaurant in the hills while being in this hot and humid city, the air conditioner has worked wonders. The temperature is so low that I intermittently get reminded of the times when it snows in Nainital.
Each person in the restaurant looks perfectly in place. The flood of courtesy are on point. The smiles and conversations are perfect. The flamboyancy of each person melts me despite of the chilled weather inside. There are however two homo sapiens who look disinterested. Their reactions and emotions are too natural for this place and are showing obvious signs of being heavily bored with the show. One of the two is a one and a half year old baby girl and the other is a six year old girl. There is a reason why I know their age so precisely despite of not knowing them in person. The baby looks surprised in the restaurant and makes occassionally crackling sounds. The 6 year old is too expressive and is evidently bored. I too am feeling cold in this chilled atmosphere but am adapting to it. The six year old on the other hand has opened her shoes and has wrapped her knees up to her chest. I feel envious of her. I too could warm up my feet like that, but we are different people. I fit in here, while she doesn’t. The six year old has now started to stare at all of us with question filled eyes. I try to avoid her eyes so as not to be questioned. I think most of the others in here are doing that too, including the adults accompanying her. So she has found the only other non-stereotyped person in the restaurant to lay her eyes upon. She unwraps her legs and wears her pretty pink sandals to go and talk to the one and a half year old baby. It is then when she starts socializing with the baby that I find out about their ages. The father of the baby tries to engage with this six year old neighbour. I overhear her complaining about her online classes and having no one to play with. This girl has got a lot of training lying ahead of her to fit in this restaurant. She doesn’t understand that the father of the baby is just being courteous and actually is not interested in the school and other socializing issues of this girl.
Overall she is evidently the outlier here because she is too vulnerable for us. She is so clear in her thoughts and choices and does not exhibit a cinch of embarassment in doing and expressing what she feels like. But it is only a matter of few years. Soon she will learn the art of pretending. She will learn how to control every move of hers that makes her an outlier. She will be stereotyped by the society, by us, and then finally she would fit in amongst us. How lovely that would be!