He realised that there's no point trying to bring conversation to a deeper level, at least not in the society of current acquaintances.

Every issues that he feel strongly about, he realised, are social taboos.

About the purpose of a paper certificate, about the purpose in life, about existential futility, about mindless competition, about people who see without seeing.

'Let's change the conversation; this is getting depressing.'

'I think you think too much.'

Each issue end awkwardly with a resounding silence.

It wasn't like this, not during NS or RWS. They had connected so easily, readily, became tight friends in a short space of time.

In a way, he had taken the easy camaraderie for granted. He had stayed in the garden of Eden and enjoyed its bounteous beauty with careless disregard, always believing that everywhere is equally pristine, equally Utopian. He had treated comfort as an entitlement, a right, not a gift.

Some things, when lost, are irretrievable. The ignorance of being blissful, it is gone forever. It is replaced by this terrible awareness of something malignant.

Nowadays, even when he felt like raising certain issues with close friends, he realised he could no longer put thoughts into words.

He felt rusty. It had been so long since there was a genuine meeting of soul. Also, there was this fear of being rejected, of being viewed with an outright - perhaps even scientific - curiosity.