Eyes Open, Mouth Shut

Eyes are the mirror to your soul. With India steadily increasing in an upward curve of COVID-19 death rates, more masked men and women are going about their business (including many who should not be), with that surreal air of dystopia. The eyes are all we see.

All those astrologers predicting pay hikes and getting hitched somehow didn’t predict one of the greatest calamities to befall us in the 21st century.

India is a country of Jugaad. We have multiple careers. You still find ear wax cleaners, knife sharpeners who go colony to colony on cycles and many such amazing work options. I have a feeling we may soon find a new breed of eyestrologers. This will be a new breed of “Bhavishya Ankhon Vani experts.” These futurists will predict with precision your dark and light days ahead from the way your eyeballs roll. They’ll create a whole new science out of it, and make up some obscure scriptural reference to back it up.

Yet I am surely going to seek help from the eyestrologers, as I am finding it extremely cumbersome these days to fathom expressions when we meet people. If becoming a master of sign language is difficult, eye language is difficult, tenfold.

But I’ve caught on to some things quickly: during meetings these days I take a quick glance at the eyes opposite me. When it crinkles on the side, you know there is budget approval and when it stares blankly you say, “We shall revert with a revised quotation.”

I had never imagined a world of no lipstick when going out, no hugging friends and family, and no shaking hands at business meetings. But whatever we don’t imagine sometimes happens to us and then, even more surprisingly, we’re filled with a sense of Déjà Vu rather than surprise.

If I want to be a businesswoman in a COVID world, I’m going to have to learn the art of communicating with the eyes. It’s time for eyeliner and mascara to shine, let lipstick take a long-deserved holiday.

We have lots of designer masks at exorbitant prices. I am hoping as we buy these masks, we also look into the eyes of the thousands of homeless, jobless people who probably can’t afford anything more than some cut cloth for their old parents and young kids. Maybe every designer could give a simple version also along with the exorbitant one. After all, we Indians love our “Buy One, Get One Free”.

Deep inside our souls, buried and repressed, we are insecure about losing parents for this one selfish, yet heartwarming reason: this is the only relationship where we can wear no mask. They know the ugly, the pretty, the mean, the entire you. And you know them. This loss of being the honest me scares the shit out of me. I feel insecure. Someday we will be gone. What would stay is what you did for others and how many lives you touched with your kindness, generosity and vision for the world.

The “inner eye” can see past any obstacle, any sense of division and difference, if we care to use it enough through our lifetimes.

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