I was doubled up with laughter as I watched one of our spiritual children stand in contemplation last night, with her fingers crossed! Let me also inform you that she is twenty-seven years old and of perfectly sound mind!! When I asked her what in heavens this mime act was all about, she rather sheepishly told me that she had a story she wanted to tell us, then thought better of it, and to get the idea out of her focus......crossed her fingers to help her divert her attention!!!! Mad as it may sound, I personally always love such strangeness because it brings to the prosaic world of daily routine, a necessary madness without which I would feel rather cheated!!!!
Self made rituals are delightful areas that give insights into the personalities of people. My father had a habit of carrying his silver cigarette holder in his pocket, and professed to always touching his pocket just before every take off, as a fighter pilot in the air force. In his retired years the ritual of an afternoon nap had to be accompanied simultaneously by having the television set on with the audio, the radio on and western classical music playing too!
Sitting and waiting anywhere, I trace the word They in a looping script with my right index finger repeatedly. I used to walk around the interior of our home when it was being constructed, with my large Burmese umbrella open! I carry sweet wrappers from India, half way across the world and back,so that they can re-unite with the other sweet wrappers back home! Did I say this was sane.....?! But the maza of these secret ways hold a personal intimacy with oneself that feels completely acceptable within the other areas of one's existence.
Surendran does a cushion-throwing ritual each morning! He stands at the foot of our bed where there is a wooden chest that stores the cushions each night, and he carefully flings them (like a funfair hoop-the-ring expert), to land exactly where they need to be arranged! For this to be done, he insists that the cushions must be stored in a particular manner and well, sulk he does, if this order is in anyway altered by mistake because the rhythm of his act gets put out of joint! Mithun has to crack every knuckle on both his hands just before he sleeps and has two quiet sneezes each night that preludes his closure to the day!
Even Begum our cat has her own set of strange behavioural rituals! The bath-mat in the bathroom is the instant doze-opiate that sees her upright one moment and playing dead cat the next! This can be at any time of the day or night....it just occurs because it must! Bringing her two toy babies for safe keeping to me sometime during each day is another must on her list of idiosyncrasies.
So the next time you observe a person doing something rather odd it may well be a small private ritual that holds no specific meaning to anyone other than the person in question!