Stories on the move, Chapter 4 – Christopher and his glasses

“There are no beautiful surfaces without a terrible depth.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

On a recent metro journey, I as usual had a lot of free time in which I counted exactly how many people were in my metro car and what they were doing. There were around 41 people and out of them at least 16 were deep into their phones, 3 had their kindles out, 4 were reading actual books (Whoa!), 1 weird creature had a newspaper out (who does that anymore?) while the rest stared off into space daydreaming or checking some invisible list or trying not to nod off.

So, back to the deviant with the newspaper. I noticed that he was holding it extremely close to his face, getting flustered every now and then when he, I assumed, failed to read a word correctly. My first thought was, “Why are you so frustrated? It is obviously difficult to read because you are holding the paper so close to your eyes!” But when he kept reading the paper that way, I deduced that he was definitely not doing it for fun, that the poor guy had forgotten his glasses today. He kept reading, page after page, and I watched him until I reached my destination and had to alight from the train. Thus ending my joyous and magical train ride. 😉 Afterwards, I thought about the dilemma of this person, who I think was so habitually used to reading the newspaper on the metro on his way to work and forgot to bring along his glasses, but did not give up on his pursuit of apprising himself of the current affairs. So, while saluting his determination, I shall try to write his saga. 🙂

Christopher was a good looking fellow. Even when he was just a child his parents would be told how handsome he was going to be when he grew up, that he would be breaking hearts and stealing souls. 😉 Now as a 28 year old man and in the prime of his life, he seems to be enjoying the perks of an untethered existence of a single guy, with a steady career of a game designer, living in the most happening district in the city, with his cute little yorkshire terrier Jo.

Life seems to be so exciting and adventurous for Christopher, the details of which are well documented on his social media accounts. He has fun but not too much, a night out with friends every week, cycling around the park every weekend, visiting the musical theater and art galleries, his hands are full and so is his schedule. He claimed that his most proud possessions other than his X-box One X gaming console and games were his more than 20,000 followers on Instagram, who, on any given day were interested in the way he took his morning coffee, or what he’d had for lunch, to where he went for his morning run and if he took Jo along.

And then there are his good looks that get him second glances from women and men alike. Just look at his most recent Instagram picture: that lightly stubbled square jaw, sharp cheekbones cut from stone, the most peculiar blue green eyes hidden behind a pair of tortoise shell glasses, a mouth full of straight white teeth as he grins up to the camera, his proud roman nose adorably scrunched up as Jo licks him on his cheek! Who wouldn’t want to see all that? 😛 “You made my morning! <3”, one admirer says. “I wake up to see your beautiful face everyday!”, another one says. The picture gets 5,000 likes in an hour. He replies to most of the comments with a self-deprecating humor that everyone finds just so charming and irresistible. They love this humble and handsome guy who seems to have it all.

He does paint a way too rosy picture of his life on social media and even in his social circle. And he has to… To keep the real guy hidden under the wraps of his warm and goofy persona. Because they didn’t know that he was partially blind due to a congenital eye disease because of which his retina was full of tiny holes. They didn’t know that he’d had to endure teasing and bullying of various levels as a child due to the thick glasses he always had to wear or that he used to feel so unbearably inadequate when he was made to stand by the sidelines and watch his classmates play basketball or volleyball during the PE classes. So, when his co-workers, friends and Instagram followers would ask him why he wore his glasses, instead of telling them the truth that would inevitably change their perception of him and make him vulnerable, he would joke that his glasses helped him curb his explosive attractiveness and everyone would just laugh and move on. They didn’t know that his glasses were in fact his only prized possession and he loved them dearly as those were the very first things he’d invested in when he got his first paycheck. They didn’t know that every night before going to bed, he would very carefully clean his glasses with the best lens cleaner gel and wipes and place them gently in their case on his night stand. Lie down and switch off his bedside lamp. Close his eyes, squeeze them tight and wish that tomorrow when he wakes up, the black spots on his vision will be gone.

But today, everything seems to be going wrong in Christopher’s life. First the burglar alarm in the bank next to his building went off in the middle of the night and continued to blare on for an hour. His own alarm failed to wake him up, then he burned his hand while frying eggs, his coffeemaker stopped working and then his pet dog started vomiting all over his floor. He didn’t lose his resolve though. He addressed each and every problem and finally after tending to his pet’s needs, he set off to go to work. That’s when the bad day became even worse. Tired, under-caffeinated and late for work, he was rushing down the stairs when his glasses slipped from his nose and fell, then in his hurry he unwittingly stepped on them, and broke them in half. In all his years of wearing glasses, he had never had such a disaster. He looked at its remains, aghast at the sight of the massacre and mourned the loss of his trusty companion with tears in his eyes. He did have spare ones in his office but he loved these glasses. Well! Its no use crying over spilt milk and all that. So he pulled himself up by the bootstraps, concluding that he will have to make the journey to his office without his glasses, something he had not done in forever. How hard will it be really?

He stumbled and bumped his way to the metro station and his platform. He was almost sure he will not be forming a bruise on his forehead from when he’d crashed into a pole. As usual, he sat in the corner seat of the last car of the metro. And breathed in a deep sigh of relief. Then, as he was such a creature of habit, he took out the newspaper from his bag to read (like he did everyday) and realized too late the fact that he couldn’t. It was not even 9 a.m. and the day already sucked! Defeated, he hung his head, squeezed his eyes shut, his usual futile attempt to dispel those obnoxious black spots, but they wouldn’t budge would they? Another deep sigh… He took the newspaper in his hands once again. Held it very close to his eyes. “Interesting!”, he thought. He could make out the shape of the words of the headline from so close. Undaunted he forged forward, like he had always done in his life. He finished reading the headlines on the first page, which gave him such a rush, he decided to go ahead with the sports section, then he went ahead and read the international section too. His eyes were watering due to stress and he was beginning to get a faint headache by the time he reached the business section, but he pulled through and read it too. By the time he reached his destination, he was almost done with the entertainment section also.

When he reached his office, whistling away gaily (as he managed to bump only once into someone on his way over from the metro station), his colleagues were shocked at the lack of his glasses. He thought whether he should confess about his partial vision but decided against it. It was better this way. 🙂 He just brushed aside their concern, and joked that he had decided to unleash the full impact of his gorgeousness today after all. Everyone laughed once again, and moved along with their day… once again. Only Christopher knew what a tremendous feat he had achieved that day. He had read without his glasses for the first time in his life.

Albeit the slightly tragic beginnings of the day, things were starting to look up for him! 🙂

Again this is a completely fictional account of something I saw during my train journey one morning. I was just so touched by the fact that a person can be this incredibly committed to reading his morning paper and I wish that all of us were blessed with this kind of grit and determination in all aspects of our life.


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