Sunday, April 24, 2016

2313 : The falling tree

As kids, we used to play a game. It was a little strange, but here goes.

Each of us would scan the room, and collect 10 things (could be anything - toys, broken remnants, combs, books etc….anything as long we could lift it and accumulate it in a pile. 

So lets say 3 of us are playing, each of us would pick up about 10 items and pile it near (each of) us. Then taking turns, each one would place one item at the center, and announce what it was. It did not have to be what it was. As an example, I would keep a balloon, and announce this was my momma. If someone asked, why and how - I would explain that my momma was fat and round, so was this balloon. Then I would lovingly air hug the balloon. All would laugh and guffaw, because sometimes these analogies were really funny.

The next person would take one of this 10 objects and try and place it on the balloon. So the center pile is now rising, like the Bhuj Khalifa. Get the drift so far?

At one point usually around the 4th turn (10,11, or 12th ), the tower (pile at the center) would lose its center of gravity and would topple. Lets say I had kept the 10th object, it was an old wrinkled newspaper and I call it “my dad’s shirt.”. When asked I explained, “my dad’s shirt(s) are rarely ironed…”

As I placed my dad’s shirt on the pile, the whole pile giveaway and collapsed. Then all the kids would run around the house, guffawing and screaming, “Chintoo placed Raju uncle’s shirt on grandma’s car, and the whole thing came crashing down.”

There would be guffaws, louder screams and then the game would continue from start again…ad nauseum.  

Get the drift? There was no winning and losing. The whole idea was to guffaw.

Today, I did something strange. I picked up 10 items from my room. Then I decided to play this game alone. Listed in the order I finally used them. 

1) A huge book of poetry that you had once gifted me.
2) An empty bottle of domex toilet cleaner
3) A toy bike (Triumph Bonneville)
4) An unused diaper 
5) A battery pack lying around
6) An usb stick
7) A 12.5 kg dumb-bell.
8) A book of photographs (magnum 2015 collection)
9) A empty steel tea cup.
10)An old Nike running shoe (single leg)

Then I start placing them. Lets see how it went.

I place the book at the center to start the pile. This is a huge A4 sized, 300 page book on some of the world’s favorite poems. You had given them to me, knowing that I was absolutely in love with the way these words danced. If asked what this was, I would have retorted “This represents our foundation. The core of both of us, always talking, always sharing, always meaning, and always engaging.” 

Next the empty domex cleaner bottle. Used to clean toilets. If asked, this would be “The periodic house-keeping both of us did to our friendship. Unfortunately today, we have run out of liquid. We could still squeeze the bottle, but its empty.”

The toy Triumph. “It was our gateway to escape this world. To go away, to run into curiosity, to gallop into freedom. To flick the wrist, and believe you can leave this world behind.”

Things still stood. So far the tower was alive (and standing). No guffawing yet !!

The unused diaper. “It was our weapon against dirt. It was our weapon against other weapons, unfortunately, most of the 'other weapons' were of our own making. Hence the diaper was apt, it would have protected us against our own shit.”

The battery pack. “It was meant to symbolize our ability to recharge offline. Our ability to not need power from an external source to remain alive and loving in the kindred.”

Five objects and the tower stood tall. Grinning, menacing and almost invincible. The poetry book at the bottom helped.

The usb stick. “A host of unsorted interactions and memory. Some easily found, some hard to comprehend, some angry, some lovely. All of them retractable - as in we could delete them off easily. All of them in this conflagration of a mash up.”

The dumb-bell. It is heavy and loud. “It added a huge stress on the tower. The weight of the world. The weight of our world. Overwhelming and yet not fatal. Trite but not trivial. Dis-orienting, but not lethal.”

The Magnum book of photographs. “Our attempt to freeze ourselves. Our attempt to photo-touch an image and make it perfect. Our attempt at telling our story in the way we want it to be heard. Out attempt at being ideal, and unfortunately, admired. Our attempt to make others see, but only the one sliver of the story, that we wanted them to see.”

As I placed the book, the tower unfortunately, began to slide and in a couple of seconds fell off.

This time I did not guffaw.

What did we miss. Two items. The tower did not last till their turn came.

The empty tea cup. “Old traditional, and yet resilient cup. One over which we both could have traded our realities. Poured hot tea over the scratched, dented cup into its crevice. The hot tea would re-invigorate you, me, the cup and the universe.”

The nike running shoe. “Allowed us to run away, when we could. Run away from our own madnesses, from our own demons, from the grief we carry inside, from the terror we know the end holds for us, from the chasm that is inevitable.”

I will repeat, I did not guffaw. I swear I did not. But I did ponder and allow myself a wry smile. A game stitched together in complete real-time, which means no preparation and no planning; played on a simple whim; not with the purpose of winning and losing; was played; and how eerily it mirrored the reality of our lives; the sign of times.

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