Hearing those two words in a fumbled voice made me look up from my phone screen to the world I was a part of. The guard of the building I stay in was looking at me in anticipation. As our eyes met, he quickly performed a salute pose with an incidental smile. Bit confused, I smiled back and murmured — “good evening, kaise ho (how’re you)?” while making my way towards the corridor. Neither he told how he was, nor I waited to listen. Maybe he knows that words are often said, rarely meant.
Entering the lift, I couldn’t help but ask myself what I have done to earn that highest order of respect. I mean, wasn’t that salute received by commander of the army from the soldiers. Weren’t those two words spoken by natives to make their British lords happy during colonial rule in India. Haven’t we passed that era already. If so, what makes me or anyone else who enters that building eligible for that.
I live on rent in a shared apartment, which in my understanding is not a good indicator of me, having made it in life. I do have a decent job, some industry experience which neither he knows, and I bet he’d be least interested in. Maybe I got camouflaged, living alongside people who possibly earned big success. Or all of us, actually faked it so well for him to believe saluting us is as important as his job. Maybe we, similar to colonisers, actually made it part of his job. Building is secure anyways, we needed someone in uniform to give us shots of ego boosters every time we pass by.
One thing which is clear is that his gesture of honour is bought, not earned. But what could I have done to earn it, for real? Taking it from a slightly different angle, what do I do, which in my own perspective would qualify me as the receiver of the salute I received. Where do I think I need to be, to know that I’ve made it. What would make me a successful person in my own eyes?
Darn that salute. I was happy scrolling by the phone screen. Now I’m killing my night, overthinking.