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Close Encounters of the third kind The Series
by Rachel Punitha
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While waiting for an appointment some time ago, I was approached by a young man wanting to pass the time as he was also waiting for an appointment. At first, I was a little annoyed at being interrupted as I’m not a ‘small talk’ person if I can help it. (I prefer deep, heart-to-heart discussions or comfortable silence). He looked young, and a little shy. He asked if he could join me. I smiled, even though I didn’t want to and gestured for him to take a seat even though I wanted him to get lost. He started asking me the basics; what I did for a living, what I studied, so on and so forth. I sighed inwardly and forced myself to answer through clenched teeth.

After some time though, I found myself starting to feel sorry for the guy. Ask any girl and she would vehemently say that women can tell if they're being flirted with and this guy truly wasn’t. He was bored and genuinely wanted some company. I started to ask him the basics. He was a mere 6 years younger to me and just completed his degree and is in a job that is completely off his area of study. Upon probing he admitted to doing such a degree because both his siblings were in that line and he didn’t know what else to do. I asked him about his college life and he had this glazed look upon his face and told me wistfully that all those 4 years of university were spent in the company of his girlfriend. They studied, hung out & passed the time together. They didn't join any activities or clubs or social events.

“My girlfriend and I only needed each other and we felt that at that time, that was enough”, said Dr. Phil. I blatantly told him that was the saddest thing I have ever heard. His eyes widened and asked me about my university days.

I gave him a lesson on the joys of extra curricular activities.

He then whipped out his smart phone and chose to torture me with numerous selfies of his girlfriend and him. When asked about her, he didn't even have a proper answer. “I'm not so sure whether we are together or not. She calls me but she is very busy with her work. I don’t even know”.

At one point he looked at me eagerly and asked me, “So, what do you think?”. When I looked at him blankly he continued, “About her I mean?” gesturing to the pouting-lipped, three-fingers-on-her-face selfie of this girl who in all honesty looked pretty and definitely knew it.

I blinked. Twice.

When asked why he took the current job that he was in he said he wasn't sure. When asked about his religion, he said his dad was a Christian but don’t think his mom was. They rarely go to church so he didn't know what he was.

“You’re a goblin’ that’s what you are”. I wanted to say.

When asked what religion his then girlfriend was he said maybe ‘Hindi’, ‘Not sure’, ‘Like south India’.


Really? I am a Selangor.

I gave him a lesson on the difference between religion and race.

He then asked me if life was so much better being married. And I said yes and no. It’s a lot of hard work. There are ups and downs. This is what he answered;

“Really? My girlfriend and I always thought that when we get married, life would be so much better and happier and all our problems would be gone”.


Said Prince Charming from Neverland.

I was in shock. I told him being married for me is great but so was being single. There are huge problems to solve, probably even more when we’re married. He was truly shocked at that. I shook my head and his -I don’t know whether to call it innocence or stupidity or clueless-ness.-

I gave him a lesson on marriage.

He wasn’t really that far away from my age and I can’t stop thinking about him. Are all young people that clueless? I use the term ‘young’ very loosely because I know that age is not the issue here. Was he brought up so foolishly that he was failed the right to know his abilities, gifts and interest? Didn’t anybody tell him the joys of university days, joining clubs/proms or even having hobbies/interest? How does one exist for almost a quarter of a century without being shown or even searching for some sort of direction? This guy, not knowing where he came from, nor where he was going, nor where he is now is so sad and frustrating at the same time. One does wonder how many go on just not knowing. I don’t walk around with a Garmin on my hands but at least I had a clue or was privileged to be shown one. I knew my strengths and weaknesses. There were some students of those lecturing days that when asked what their strengths were, they answered playing video games. PLAYING VIDEO GAMES!!!???... What the ….?? Are the only conversations they can have is about smart phones, video games and celebrities? Ask them about their passions, desires, abilities or even dislikes, pet peeves and fears and they will drool and collect dust in their unblinking eyes. Truly, I say to you, I don’t wish to exist when the populace slowly turns into empty-headed zombies.

I had to get to my car and when I came back he was gone. If this person somehow stumbles upon this blog post, I truly hope that you have found yourself. Even if in some small way.

Or at least, get yourself a Garmin or a Bible.

By Nitha Nathan

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