I had a sonder today. A sonder is a sudden realization that a random passerby has an equally vivid and complex life as yours. I was standing on the queue at the ATM, chewing gum and imagining having a personal ATM (not a boyfriend or sugar daddy. The actual machine), in my house. I told myself it would be the 21st century equivalent of burying your money in the ground; only that the ATM is worse because you can always walk to it and withdraw all your money. Try digging out money every one hour.
My mind wandered to the story of the woman I saw in the news in whose house bundles of old currencies were found after she died and I began thinking of how things are so fickle in life. The woman with her bunch of old non-polythene N50 notes would have thought she was doing her children a favour by burying their inheritance in the ground. But alas, a trendier, less valuable currency came and laughed her in the face.
While all these were going through my mind, a man whooshed past me and his perfume reminded of some really old memory from secondary school which I thought I had lost. So I looked up at him and suddenly, I had a burst of realization in my mind: This man is a human being. He has a life totally different from mine! He has a story!
I began to think;
The man has a name. Like an actual name. A forename and a surname, which he writes on all his forms. The names are on his business card, and his business card probably has a colour on it. Like blue and white. An actual graphic designer had designed his card and given him some sample designs from which he (or his boss) had chosen the particular design that is now his business card.
He has a wallet, in which there are several bank cards (or not). He will fill that wallet with the money he’s now looking to withdraw from the ATM, and the money will be exhausted one day, soon after which he’ll whoosh past someone else on another queue. I will not be a part of that particular queue, but it would not change the story of the man.
The man is married. He has a ring on his finger. He’s what? 5 years, 7 years post-marriage. He has seen that married couples have issues. He is probably learning new ways to help the co-habitation process; or unlearning old ways to avoid quarrels. Maybe he has a girlfriend outside his marriage. Maybe he’s cheating on his wife big-time. Maybe his wife knows. Maybe she doesn’t. Maybe he’s one of those men who do not cheat on their wives; OMG, they exist! Maybe him and his wife have gone for several sessions of counselling. Maybe they are trying to have children. Maybe his wife is dead; and he just cannot bring himself to take off his ring. Maybe he’s a typical Nigerian man who’s ‘just a little bit’ married.
The man could have health problems. He could be diabetic. He could have HIV/AIDS. He could probably not even know about the brewing disease and how eventful his life is about to get. He could have a history of mental illness.
The man could die the next day. There are people who die one day, but whooshed past strangers the day before, and neither them nor the stranger knew death was hanging around their heads.
The man could be a criminal – an drug lord, a rapist, a serial killer, an extortionist, a forger of signatures, a thief.
The man could be a pastor.
He could be in any profession – engineering, lawyering, medicining, accounting, shoe-making, dancing, consultancy-ing, pimping…
I snapped back to reality and suddenly realized that the man had lesser limitations in my mind, than he probably had in his own mind; that the more we know and live our own story, the more we tend to close our own minds towards our own selves; that perhaps, the best way to be anything, is to always see ourselves with new eyes – to have a sonder for ourselves.