On bounded imaginations, curiosity and fear


Photo: flickerhivemind.net
Photo: flickerhivemind.net

DARK woods that haunted, its silence that clamoured, lush green leaves that chanted, grass covered puddles that deceived, creepy snakes that scared, muddy stones that snored, dense bushes that danced and revealed a small space somewhere, indicative of another world. I craved to see what lay on the other side of the opening. O woods!

INSIDE a video-game, a huge tree with a hundred branches – big and small, waited for you to play. There would be a maze inside the branches. The more you hit the arrow button of your keyboard, the deeper it would take you within the branches of the tree. It would take you through many a branches inside. But I would be hooked to a particular branch which had an opening but it never let me in. The destination would be a door, you reach the door, you win. But the door wouldn’t show you what’s in. After all, computer games are designed by lame ideas of a software professional who programmes it the way he programmes a washing machine. You press this button and this is what you get. Pathetically mathematical. Some of you say it’s not logical. And I understand only imaginations can go where your logic cannot.

NURSERY rhymes mentioned a shoe-house of an old aunt who had a number of children. I always wanted to go inside the shoe house and see what lies within. Mumbai’s Hanging Garden has a shoe-house. When I went to see it I was disappointed, not by its Lilliputian size, but by its emptiness inside. As the shoe-house opened, it offered a staircase that led up to the window of the house. And it was over! Just a staircase! No home. No secret. No children. No old aunt. Add to the agony, the shoelace was immovable – made of cement! I felt cheated. So, no smile for a picture in the window of the house.

BEHIND my granny’s home was a huge wall of naked bricks. This one storeyed tall wall had a small door. Therefore, it quite obviously held a house in it. I once saw the door open and flood out some light. A small figure of a woman, drooping with age, emerged with a squalid pot, emptied the pot into the small area next to the door and disappeared inside. I was told that the wall was the back of her house. I tried to figure out its front a couple of times but failed. There were busy shops on what could have been called the front of the house, leaving me wondering if the house had any front door. It was believed that the woman had a son who chose not to live with her. Ever since then, I saw the house and pitied the woman. This went on for a couple of months we lived there. What still bothers me is not her senility, for it must have decayed the way her youth did, but what lay inside the house. Where did she get her grocery from, who paid  the electricity bills, why did she never interact with neighbours, and who must have discovered her death and how. That door!

A DOOR, I believe, has a story to tell. I wanted to hear all of them. No. I wanted to go through all of them. Every door attracted me. It still attracts me. But I sometimes fear what lies within.

ANOTHER wish I cherish is of walking freely in dark, unknown places. In the dense jungle that protects a beautiful river and a bountiful nature, I want to be lost without a fear of feeling lost and alarmed. I want to be blind. Live blindly without any fear of the world taking an undue advantage of it. Without using my unused brains, without judging actions and without overthinking deeds and reactions. Believing what is either said or seen without going any deeper, without fearing what it may behold, without fearing the consequences.

BUT I fear. They never let you be yourself. Every child has to grow up and face the fears of menace and malice. And so may I say, many a times curiosity has lost to fear. Will it stand again, with the same freedom?

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