xeno
n. the smallest measurable unit of human connection, typically exchanged between passing strangers—a flirtatious glance, a sympathetic nod, a shared laugh about some odd coincidence—moments that are fleeting and random but still contain powerful emotional nutrients that can alleviate the symptoms of feeling alone.

 

Two of the five young adults were deeply intimidated.

The man sitting a desk apart was dynamic and – as writers, they couldn’t point out a fitting word for his personality. They didn’t feel much shame- they barely had time to acknowledge it.

They were busy coming up with any sort of filler questions because this was a baffling interview.

All the traditional questions had been swept off a cliff because he kept coming up with nonanswers.

To what was a success, he slinked away with saying he wasn’t in the least bit successful.

To any role model figure, he’d said he had none.

To what were his hobbies, he shrugged.

 

They thanked  the heavens their Editor wasn’t there. She’d definitely have had a panic attack that he was avoiding all their questions.

This was a textbook stressful situation but he was so chatty and vivacious they weirdly felt at ease.

Three girls and one guy sitting in an office of a multi millionaire and they all felt comfortable.

Except they were all being challenged mentally. Everything they had been taught and cautioned against, this man had dissed in a matter of 20 minutes.

25 minutes later, he took a picture with them and gifted them his own book with bad reviews online.

They had laughed off his writing before the meeting because Amazon had said so.

They were the real writers after all. All racking their brains to ask the same questions they had read in other interviews, occasionally changing up the pauses and sentence syntax.

Everything they could do to prove they weren’t unprepared.

But they were- completely and irreverently underprepared.

And it was still a stunning interview. He floated through his stories and cringy anecdotes with ease, his pride at his brand so close to ego, it was clear how passionate he was.

In fact screw passion, never had they ever seen a guy with fewe degrees of separation from his brand.

They marvelled over it over cheap snacks outside a railway station.

They spent hours dissecting their theories over what made the guy so energetic and young. They had never imagined such an off track man running an empire with an exponential growth track.

He seemed to have no feedback mechanism in his brain, no voice inside his head, no second layer of thought that undermined the truth. There seemed to be no societal armour around the guy that yearned to meet any protocol and norms- it was refreshing to meet someone so different and vocal about the attributes that made him different.

The young interns spent more time giving their own inputs on the interview and the man extraordinaire than they had discussing questions prior.

They didn’t tell their editor that, of course.

They spent hours travelling home that night, quite forgetting that an interview had actually happened- any journey through a bustling suburb is likely to squeeze all nuance out of one’s consciousness, instead replacing it with a primal, instinctive survival mode.

They walked into crowds full of tired people and heard a man play 4 instruments alone for money. Neither of them offered him any though they wished one of them would.

They accidentally walked over people’s feet and people walked over theirs without any apology. One of them almost elbowed a woman’s nose while hanging off the supports in a train. The woman cursed her in a most unwomanlike manner and the compartment shared a collective laugh.

It all reminded them they were more than an empty vessel of mass getting from point to point. Or that they were ever truly alone.

 

Instead of checking in with friends and family that night, all of them ruminated the hour they’d spent in a fancy office and checked in with themselves over what was really important.

And it changed them for just a few moments.

 

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