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The First Impression

by Ananya Sarkar
(Kolkatta, India)

Shubha tucked a strand of hair behind her ear nervously as she looked out of the car window. This was a big day in her life. So long, as a manifestation coach, she had conducted one-on-one sessions with her clients. She enjoyed using the maxims of metaphysics to help people get what they wanted and manifest their dreams.

But this was the first time that she was to give a speech in public, in an auditorium full of people.

The Circle of Being, a well-known group of metaphysics enthusiasts had organized a keynote seminar to which they had invited her. There would be an open discussion of how metaphysics can be applied in everyday life followed by her speech on the concept of space and time. The fact that she had been considered as an expert in metaphysics was gratifying and Shubha had been thrilled when a couple of months back, she had received a call requesting her to be a speaker at the event. She had taken a day to think about it before saying “yes”. The seminar would be a big platform from where she could gain more prospective clients. Also, though she had been to other metaphysics seminars before, it was always as part of the audience. This would be the first time that she would be the speaker, which excited her.

The last few weeks had been hectic, with Shubha poring over extensive research on the topic at hand and preparing her notes. She decided to explain it in simple terms before going on to cite a few examples of how the dimensions of space and time, in the world of quantum physics, could transform one’s life into the unimaginable. Skipping a few movie nights and outings with friends, she had taken great effort at preparing a composite speech – one that would be interesting and engaging as well as teach something new.

And finally, the day had arrived. She was on her way to the seminar and there was there was only a twinge of nervousness about her. This was her first public speech, Shubha reminded herself. So there were bound to be some flutters in her stomach. It was completely normal.

Soon, she had reached the venue. Stepping out of the car, she went in and was warmly greeted by the organizers. “It’s an absolute pleasure to have you here, Ms. Sinha,” beamed Mr. Roy, the grey-haired gentleman who was also the founder of The Circle of Being. His associates joined in and Shubha’s jittery feeling was dispelled in no time.

People were filing it slowly. It was a mixed crowd. Men and women of all ages could be seen taking their places. At 5 p.m. sharp, the seminar began. The open discussion commenced and hosts of the show as well as the audience engaged in a lively interaction. Some narrated how amazing things had taken place in their lives on applying some of the metaphysics principles while others shared their views on the theories. Shubha enjoyed listening to it. And then, at the end of an hour, the host introduced her as one of the eminent manifestation coaches in the city. The audience applauded and Shubha stepped onto the stage, the previous flutters returning all of a sudden.

Then she began, slowly delving into the topic and asking questions to the audience from time to time to engage them. She walked on the stage with the mic, making as much eye contact as possible with the audience while being expressive as well.

However, a particular
young gentleman stood out to her in the way in which he kept his eyes fixed on her and listened intently to what she was saying. Each time she completed a sentence, he seemed hungry for more. Soon, Shubha felt a surge of confidence as she made each point. The participant’s appearance was not particularly unique. Yet he became the focus of her attention throughout the talk. The man’s concentration and obvious fascination inspired her to remember stories and other relevant points that she had stowed away in the background.

The talk went well and there was a big cheer at the end. Right after, fired by a rare courage, Shubha decided to seek out the new gentleman who was so enthralled by her speech. It would be nice to exchange a few words with him, she thought. As people were leaving the hall, she spotted her big fan and quickly slid up behind him. The man had not noticed her. “Excuse me,” she said. But he kept walking. “Excuse me.” This time, she repeated a tad louder. However, the man didn’t vary his pace as he continued out of the door. A bit confounded, Shubha followed him into the corridor and tapped his shoulder lightly. This time, he whirled around with a surprised look on his face.

“I just wanted to thank you for your concentration during my talk. It really felt great and enthused me,” she smiled.

The gentleman nodded and returned the smile but said nothing more.

There was an awkward pause, after which Shubha ventured a question to ease the situation.

“Did you, uh, get much out of the seminar?”
“Well, not really,” he answered candidly. “I had difficulty understanding what you were saying as you were walking around on the platform facing different directions.”

And then, in a heartbeat, Shubha understood what had really happened. The gentleman was hearing impaired. She had not really captivated him as she suspected. Indeed, he was not intrigued by her talk as she had hoped. The only reason why he had kept his eyes glued to her face was because he was struggling to read her lips!

Shubha felt somewhat embarrassed as she realized how different the reality was from what it appeared to be. Well, she thought to herself, the man’s intent expression had inspired her all the same. There was no denying that his eye contact had given her pleasure and confidence during the talk. She wanted to return the favor.

“Mr…I don’t know your name…” she mustered.
“It’s Mr. Chowdhury, but you can call me Rakesh,” the gentleman smiled warmly, extending his hand.
Shubha shook it.

“Rakesh, I am really sorry that you found it difficult to comprehend. I would love to make it up and was wondering if you could join me for a cup of coffee. I’d gladly go over the seminar again.”

Rakesh’s eyes widened and a strange wonder lit his face. Nobody had been so considerate and gone to such lengths to make sure he got something right. He was visibly impressed.

He flustered. “Yes…I mean, this is so generous of you!”

Shubha lowered her eyes and shook her head playfully, laughing. She was joined by Rakesh. The corridor was almost empty now as most of the people had already left. From the exit at the end, bursts of traffic could be heard intermittently as each person opened the door to get out. Both of them headed towards that direction. Outside, the air was cool and crisp, abuzz with the din of hopes and dreams.


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