XXXIII. Cliches - Those Pesky Permanent Stains that Can’t Come Out -

You wear your heart on your sleeve.

No- I’m pretty sure our hearts are not capable of being confuzzled and therefore the expression of confusion that our face may at some time conform to, is not in anyway related to the muscle that just happens to be the size of one of our clenched fists; namely, the cardiovascular muscle, otherwise known as the ‘heart’.

In my own case, it was not until I was seventeen that I truly could emote sentiments. It was not until I was seventeen that my dance training had become an inseparable part of me and storytelling through expression and movement was no longer just a meticulously developed skill under the gaze of one of the most amazing dancers I have ever met.

Suddenly I had no control and yet I had total control-

The muscles of my face, moved in such a manner that they could be isolated and yet were also cohesively communicative.

If I’m angry- you’ll see it.

If I’m defiant- you’ll see it.

If I’m timid- you’ll see it.

If I’m happy (rarely) - well, I cannot stop smiling and you will no doubt, be somewhat surprised, to see it.

There are others like me. We’re what I like to call - type haav bhaav.

Us, type haav bhaav - type expression-full - realize that we have the ability to discipline our future children with the quick flash of our eyelids- ENTER: searing-laser-like pupils emerge. We have the ability to produce an air of skepticism by simultaneously lifting and arching our right eyebrow and pursing our lips. We have the ability to invoke fear and as a result, potential enemies.

We are able to mock relentlessly and utilize said facial expressions to communicate what we are not permitted to verbalize: Oh, you think you fancy huh? – Why do you feel a need to hold hands in order to prove that you’re in a relationship? I waited too long to cross the street without holding someone’s hand. Holla –

It may seem like our facial haav bhaav fails us -

like that time when the dude you happen to have sat next to - he happen to have sat next to me - we happened to sit next to each other - almost everyday in the library last year, had headphones on and was apparently watching something funny because he kept muffling his own laughter.

I first expressed disgust at the fact that he deigned to laugh in the otherwise serious environment that the “24 hour study center” connoted in its location (in the basement), and darkly tinted windows.

Something about his laughter, however, was infectious and I soon found myself expressing a foolish countenance - as if I too, were about to laugh.

I think he took notice.

I quickly stared down at my notes and didn’t understand why it was so hard to think of saddening thoughts since I was studying for an organic chemistry exam and was sitting in a library all day, not to mention the fact that I was at Penn, which still is horrible in itself.

I was horrified after I heard myself let out a giggle that could have been mistaken for the rustling of papers or someone passing by- but at that moment- he looked at me and I no doubt wore the expression of someone who just laughed… lips slightly agape and the ends turned up ever so slightly, causing the cathater-like cheeks I had inherited to consequently balloon-up and thereby causing my eyes to squint that as a result obstructed my vision (as if my biological reaction to my own laughter is the equivalent of Indian femininity- shy of one’s own open laughter in the presence of others) and thus causing the dimple on my chin to emerge, all the more apparent and well-contrasted in the dim lights offered by the library’s basement.

He seemed to be towering over me, though we were both sitting, and he looked aghast - as if I had dared to be so brazen as to not control my laughter. Funnier still was that he was Indian too - so not the point -

I quickly looked down at my notes again. I forgot what happened afterward, but the scene could have easily been extracted from a Hindi film (I even remember draping a shawl around my neck and wearing silver dangly earrings to conjure an Indian-chicness that day) = clearly my expressions told an entire narrative, without the need for any verbalization.

Most times though, our expressions save us.

We are also impaths.

We are able to dissect the surface language of an e-mail and understand the diction and the carelessly underlying snippy tone that the e-mail sender decided to include. We are able to read a statement and actually hear the person saying it in our ears.

For this reason we tend to confront, perhaps more than we should.

We can point out those employees who hate their livelihood and then take it out on you. We can detect rudeness and apathy.

Our greatest asset is to stir fear.

A couple of weeks ago some illogical/creepy dude walked into a Starbucks on campus. I was watching the girl’s belongings on the table next to me, as per her request before taking off.

There was this guy who walked around the cafe and happened to stop at the table next to mine. He picked up the girl’s drink and started drinking from her straw.

He must be a boyfriend and probably recognized her belongings. The scenario that I just satisfied myself with, surely explains why he took a sip of her drink.

No - the dude was harassing everyone who was in finals mode - apathetic to the nuisance of a guy who came near them and touched their belongings - dirty candy wrappers and the such.

The guy came near me then - I was hunched over my laptop, tears welling in my eyes because I just wanted to go home and I could not anywhere in my highly endowed university, find a place to study in peace.

Aware of his presence, I looked at my kara, remembered that I was a Sikh kudi - Punjabi for “dudette”- and the dude had nothing on me, and so I looked up and flashed a threatening look right into his eyes as his hand hovered over my untouched Skinny Vanilla Latte.

He backed away and looked scared. Succ-ess -

So maybe I do walk through campus looking as though I’m about to punch someone and maybe I do smile shyly if I see a handsome larka - Hindi for “dude”- pass by - (it’s the Indian female reflex.)

I’m the haav bhav type - that storytelling dancer -

I’m that person sitting across from you in the lecture hall and who glared at you when you clapped for the ego-centric academic professor that only succeeded in further disgracing the teaching profession -