What’s In A Face? A Billion Words!

Posted on March 22, 2013 in Society

By Rucha Pande:

A face can talk more than a thousand words in a book. A face holds more chapters than an epic could hold. A face can be read faster than a child’s ABC book. A face, they say, is a window to the soul. Now then, how accurate can this ‘reading of faces’ be? If reading of books is prone to mistakes and ‘slip of tongues’, reading of faces is much, much more prone to misunderstandings and misinterpretations. The face is a symbol, and a symbol is read by individuals on their own depending on their knowledge about it. Does the same apply to reading faces? Have we become so tech-savvy that real facial expressions become hard to read? Here are some instances where I have tried to understand one merely by seeing them.


Standing there., on the bus-stop. A lonesome face, a cigarette in hand. Dingy clothes yet, a determination on his face. Yes, the ‘homeless guy’. The homeless man who exists in every street, in every town, in every country. He, who nobody knows, yet all see. He, who to us, has no life to go back to. What do I see on his face? There’s not much to read, for you see, he was blind. Eyes are like a dictionary if the face is the book. Without it, reading the face is neighing on impossible yet that determination. As he gingerly walked, a stick in his hand and a limp in his foot. Where was he heading? Nobody knows, what was he doing? Nobody cares. He walks his own path, he paves his own way with that determination.

I see my friend sitting beside me, her eyes on the flying road that zooms past us. She’s sitting by the window seat in a city bus. Her eyes on the zooming road. She knows where she is going, yet she doesn’t.  Do I see similar determination on her face? No. It is the opposite in fact. Her mind full of thoughts yet none seem to make sense. Funny how this can come to be. The homeless man, with no house, no money and barely any body can walk the walk, while my friend here, with no limit to materials is lost. She knows not where she goes, he sees not where he goes.

As usual, I was sitting on the bus stop, which is the best place to observe people second only to the railway station. There was this woman, in a striking green sari. Her child tugging at it, screaming for something. Stubborn, small child. Yet she has no attention for him, her eyes busy searching the road for a bus which she knows not for sure will arrive or not. He, with his small problems, and she with hers. I read his, probably trying to seek attention from her. And one way, which this generation knows very well, is to ask for something, or throw a tantrum. That’s exactly what his face told me. His mother’s, on the other hand, was so full of tension. She was probably getting late, with her husband waiting, or worse, her mother in law. And still, she would wait for a bus instead of taking an auto. Ah, a money saver. Understandable. Beautifully dressed, and still a money saver. We waited for a bus for almost half an hour. She providing me, and I providing her, a quiet solace. A bus comes up and she leaves. Now tugging along her son, who, tired with all his whining quietly follows her. Home to his father, maybe he’d get some attention there? That I cannot read on their faces. Will his father even be there? That I do not know either. What I did read on their faces, was tolerance that comes only with unconditional love.

Listening to a song takes you to another world. Rather, it creates a world of your own. The lyrics are the keys to unknown doors within your soul. People lost in songs, are literally lost, knowing nothing about what is going on in front of them. I observed the same happening to a friend of mine. She was listening to the song “unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. Ironically, it talks about how nothing in life is written down in stone, we make our own decisions every day and the future isn’t written. While I was staring at her, the song went “staring, at a blank page”. And yet there I was, reading a chapter on her face. It spoke of a million feelings. I think she was tired, tired of how haywire life can go sometimes, tired of how things go out of our hands just when we think we’d gripped the situation. She takes in the song, drinking in the words, nodding her head now and then, as if to agree with the singer. She looks at me, but her mind is elsewhere. She thinks quietly while I write this down quietly. I read her, and she reads the song. Both finding so much meaning in their respective interests. When the song gets over, I see her rise, as if renewed and she says to me, “I’m tired, let’s go home”. Expecting no less, I put my book away, and lead the way.

Has the youth really become so weary? So tired? And yet many more philosophical than the older generation? Has our tolerance level become that low? No, we are acclimatizing and we will speak up. And we will make a change. So, put a smile on your face because someone might be looking right now, and may be motivated. So don’t just listen to youth ki awaaz. Look at youth ka chehra too.