From You To Me

Puzzles of The Past

It is not completely objectionable to say that human beings have always loved to be certain of what they do. We love planning ahead, having a vague idea of what tomorrow may look like. To have control, or some semblance of it. So much so, that when a day goes rogue, fear and annoyance is inevitable.

Take even this Pandemic. The first words we used to describe it were all reflections of the crisis of being unable to predict the next day- uncertain, unprecedented, unknown. Even our obsession with the idea of time travel is the baby of our inability to deal with what is unknown to us.

And that’s why we choose to run. To stop living in the moment, because the moment is not being kind. We run away to a place where everything is predictable, where we know exactly what happens because it has already happened. We run back to the memories of our past- old music, old diary entries, old films. Forming little cocoons in bed, we scroll through old photos in our gallery.

I have always ran to the past. Increasingly during this Pandemic. I have nothing to look forward to, so I keep going back, keep trying to make sense of the people puzzles that I could not make sense of back then, the people puzzles that I had to leave behind because it was too painful to watch the pieces stop fitting in. Eventually, the puzzle itself would change, but I would find myself leaving each one incomplete in some way.

It is hard to find joy in past memories because of these unsolved people puzzles that keep popping up, like ads in a game. You’re forced to watch them for a minimum of the slowest 10 seconds of your life before you can quickly cancel it and get back to playing.

Sometimes, I decide to roll up my sleeves and begin trying to solve this hurtful people puzzle again. I put myself back in, reminding myself that I am not the same weakling I was. Confident in my 20-year-old self, I go back to help the 16-year-old me. I quickly pop out the questions that rose out of heart break and had left me stumped.

They respond, and the answer burns the same way it did at 16. Only this time, I am armed with the medicine of time. I can bury this wound under the band aid of the years that have passed. The puzzle still remains incomplete.

The puzzles of the past cannot change. That is after all, why we love them despite the pain. Sometimes we forget this and run back to solve them individually, without realizing that some wounds are necessary, and that all these incomplete puzzles have actually come together in perfect sense, just to complete the person that is you today.

The truth, you realize further down the line, was that the puzzles were all always complete, that you just had to view them from further away, with more faith in yourself.

From You To Me

The Day I Saw Colours in the Sky

A very long time ago I had a nightmare that something flew towards me and cut my neck, creating a single red drop peeking out at the world. Soon, it became a line of blood that drizzled down. I woke up immediately. For a long time after this I never saw any dreams or nightmares that I could remember upon waking. My sleep was pitch black.

And then in one peaceful afternoon nap, they visited me again. I dreamt of myself, sitting at the edge of my bed in my lavender walled bedroom. I was staring up at the sky through a big transparent glass window that opened just a few inches at the bottom. I could see everything through this window- the big sandy pit that doubled as a playground in the evenings, the beige and pink building right beside it, the two busy roads that were divided by a strip of footpath, and a row of big trees that lined the big football ground, attempting to block it’s view. There was no match today.

None of this mattered, because in this dream my eyes were fixed on two black birds flying overhead. The background was a clear, blue, sunny Dubai sky. I turned my head away to look at something inside the room. But when I looked outside, up at the two birds again…

Powders of rich and dark colors- red, yellow, and blue had been splashed across the sky. Two birds had become five. They continued to fly in circles above. They were unaware, or perhaps unbothered, about the color storm enveloping my building. I sat still, frozen in place. I watched, sensing deep panic growing in my heart. I could only see splattered colours forming gradients. Not the sandy ground or the football ground, not the trees, not the building. The sky was choked with primary colors in powdery textures, blurring the birds who were now black spots with wings, still circling the sky. It was as beautiful as it was scary.

I spent a very long time wondering what this dream was about. I never figured it out. It was simply a day where I had seen colours in the sky.

From You To Me

Watch, Only To Watch

For the longest time I hated movies. All movies. I couldn’t bear the thought of forcing myself in front of a screen to stare vacantly at all the things happening so far away, so out of my control.

I think I hated the idea of being God. Interacting with a movie is in some way experiencing a kind of Godly power isn’t it? You sit and watch from high above, atop the mighty sofa. You observe expressions change when backs turn, illegal stares that last longer than they are meant to, and miscommunications and misplacements that drastically alter so many lives.

You watch it all knowing full well that you could change it all if you could just talk to the characters. You have that much power.

And yet, to watch a film is to give up power. You can only watch. You have no ability to alter things. You cannot burst in and whisper into the mind of the female protagonist of an 18th century narrative that her life does not have to be this way. You cannot tell Romeo to wait just a few more minutes so that Juliet can wake up. You cannot tell the hero to run back and fight sooner because the people in his village are being tortured. You can only watch in painful angst, and hope that these characters make the choices you are begging them to make. You are, at that climactic moment, completely at their mercy.

To watch a film then is to sign off consensually on this exchange of power. To be voiceless and at the mercy of your characters. And to receive in return glimpses into their lives. Lives that you would never otherwise have gained access to. To silently observe the tinier stories that these characters themselves don’t know of. And finally, to think about all these stories, digest them and accept them, even when they break your heart.

Cinema teaches you the bitter truths of life. About relationships that spiral out of your control. Cinema tells you that you cannot fix some things even if you try, because you simply don’t know enough to even begin understanding. You are, many times, a powerless observer. Your hands are tied and you can only watch in painful angst, hoping somewhere on the edge of your sofa that things will soon work out for the best.