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Visage of Innocence
How much can you glean from a face?
10 P.M. The sky is clear and the air is cool. I am right on time for my run. As I reach the corner to turn towards Logix, to my right a white hatchback stops.
“Do you run everyday?” I hear a voice asking.
I look closely. A young man in his 20s is driving the car — the one who asked the question and is now looking at me. I do not see the face of the person in the passenger seat. I am never ill at ease speaking to strangers. But I was running, and now I have stopped; my world and their world have collided and I am scattered on the road.
“Yes, everyday.” I answer enthusiastically.
“How much distance do you cover?”
“I don’t know. I have been running for two years but I have no idea. I run for around an hour though. I try not to digitalize my running.”
“The aura on your face is telling that.”
“Thank you,” I say cheerfully, though I am more intrigued than cheered. The two statements sit at a weird angle.
Then I wave and I resume running. I notice the hatchback passing me by.
I run for another block and I reach the metro station. I get the feeling that the same car is parked at the intersection of the metro; I think I hear a voice calling for me but I am not sure in the din of traffic. So I continue to run. Then, I have the feeling that the same car has passed me by again.
I run past another block and this time I hear the voice quite clearly. It is the same guys. I suppose the conversation is not over. The hatchback is now parked by the side of the street. The guy who I spoke to earlier is about 50 meters away talking on phone. This time I am speaking to the passenger.
“Hello”, I say, uncertain at the ambiguity of this encounter.
“I just wanted to say that I saw you running and I saw innocence on your face”
I have heard this ‘innocence’ part many times before. This interests me because I would like to hear somebody explain it. What does it mean? Does my face say I have zero cunning? And that is what I ask him.
“What do you mean by that?”
“I just mean that there is innocence on your face”
“It could be true, or not. I think it is sort of an overreach. What do you mean by innocence? Not devious, is that what you mean?
“No, just innocent.”
“I would not judge a person by the look on their face. Have you heard of Ted Bundy?”
“He was a serial killer. And he was an absolute charmer.”
I plug my serial killer knowledge.
“I know people. When my friend asked you, you said right away that you don’t digitalize your running. You didn’t have to tell that. That was innocence.”
“That is because he asked me how much distance I cover. And I really didn’t know that. So I had to explain to him why not. I like to keep the running primal; I don’t have to know about heart beat, pulse, distance, speed etc. Also, I am quite spontaneous in conversations with strangers.”
I get the feeling he will not be able to explain the ‘innocence’ part. I also sense that he is a bit tipsy, I cannot be sure though. I think I know what he means by ‘innocence’ because I have heard this many times before. I think that to other people I look like a person who is ‘simple’ — better synonyms would be ‘guileless’, ‘naïve’, ‘pliable’, or ‘pushover’.
The kernel of this conversation is a façade. Go figure.
I am scouting for a way out of this now. He tells me he is a filmmaker. I ask him if there is anything I can find on youtube, which to think in hindsight, automatically puts him in very minor league. He says he doesn’t. So not even minor league. I smile and extend my hand to take his leave. He shakes my hand like he is running a handpump.
Then, here is my phony friendliness makes me say:
“May be we shall stumble upon each other again someday.”
Innocence, my round ass.