This Is How It Began.

“Chips?” The man seated in the adjacent seat asked with a kind smile.

“No, thank you,” I smiled back.

“It’s going to be a long journey, we might as well make acquaintances?” Shifting his gaze to my laptop, he remarked, “I forgot to charge mine.”

I smirked.

“What?”

“Nothing really. Just… It’s so easy to find substitutes for conversation these days. It’s almost… Almost -”

“Scary?”

“Well, in a sense. I mean, it’s alarming how quickly we are isolating ourselves and turning to technology for company.”

“It’s a boon for some…”

“And a bane for the rest,” I paused. “Don’t you feel like reaching out?”

“I did reach out,” he grinned, shaking the packet of chips.

“Of course,” I laughed. “But did you not worry if you’d be imposing yourself on me?”

“I see where you’re going with this. The new definition of personal space is indeed very constricting. And to be honest, I did think twice before offering you the chips,” he paused to tear the packet open, “but like I said, it’s going to be a long ride.”

“Hmm,” I breathed while pulling a potato chip out of the packet.

“What?”

“Ah, skip it. It’ll get heavy slash boring.”

“I’ll let you know when it does,” he smiled encouragingly.

“It’s just that¬†everything is so fast-paced today, you wonder if you’re allowed to take up someone’s time without taking an appointment.”

“Which is why one should always seem approachable, unless of course, you’d rather stay aloof.”

“That’s right. But even if someone seems approachable – like, you did – I question myself thrice before gathering the courage to initiate a conversation. Because I wonder if I am reading your body language correctly.”

“I completely understand what you’re trying to say. But if there’s anything I have learned from my experiences, it is that you should be willing to take a risk. What is the most that’ll happen? The person in question will give you a cold shoulder, or a tight-lipped smile? But that’s all, right?” He paused to read my face. “But on the flip side, if you decide not to try, you’d be missing out on the warmth and acceptance, or taking it to another level, the insight that a stranger is capable of providing you with.”

Smiling, he continued, “The best you can do is reach out without expectations. That way you eliminate the possibility of feeling hurt. You said hi because you wanted to, he didn’t respond equally because he didn’t want to. But it won’t affect you if you don’t expect a warm, welcoming greeting. Get my drift?”

“Completely.”

“Great. Now let’s introduce ourselves? I’m Max.”

Realising that I hadn’t cared to introduce myself, I extended my hand with an apologetic grin, “Mira.”

“Glad to have met you,” he said taking my hand.

Basking in the kindness of his expression, I beamed, “Likewise.”