– The Fountainhead
This is one of my favourite lines from this book. It sums up the concept of the dreaded variety of strangers.
Why dreaded? You require substantial amount of guts to face such faces; faces that are familiar, yet so distant. There are reasons, obviously, behind the aloofness and the void that replaces the intimacy and familiarity. All efforts to claim the remnants of old bonds are futile. You don’t wait for the realisation to dawn upon you. You know it, because the reasons are linked to you.
The face represents the final stage of a relationship on the verge of snapping, like an overstretched rope that can withstand strain no more. It’s the result of broken trust or spite or bitter resentment. The void leaves ample space for reproach, pain and a permanent ache. Memories are merciless. You wouldn’t want to recall them, yet they come back to you; you can’t control their surge.
You are so afraid. You would rather take harsh chastisement or blows than tolerate complete withdrawal and lack of recognition. The latter is ten times worse.
What if there are no solid reasons? What if it’s just vagueness, finally leading to some decision?
What if you notice a gradual change in behaviour that transforms the person into a stranger? You try your best to maintain the relationship but it’s no good. Avoidance, excuses, distance and more distance. You aren’t stupid. You learn to accept the detachment. You wonder what went wrong. And it’s the same void that slowly replaces the closeness, you both shared.
You dread the face. You want to rebuke the stranger, knowing very well that indifference is the only reaction you can hope to receive. The doors will be closed, indefinitely.
What’s the best option?
I don’t know. I have experienced it. But I don’t know the answer.
Time does her thing. Makes you drift away. Makes sure your mind is occupied by other incidents, events, memories.
Who knows? You might just stop dreading the stranger.