Let me tell you a story today.
There was a girl once. She thought dreaming big meant a big, warm, sun-kissed house with huge white, smooth walls with no cracks or stains that could be windows for monsters in the dark shadows thrown by night. These walls would be like an empty canvas and the windows that were punctured onto its surface would be so wondrous that they would magically enhance the properties of light until it would bend and twist and turn and fall on each and every surface of the house. No shadows would form on any surface within this house.
And there would be no paintings on the walls with imaginary people staring down their crooked noses upon the house’s inhabitants with their malignant eyes, no corners or attics or staircases or bookcases for ghosts and goblins to hide, there would be strange sounds of leaking pipes or creaking wood or crackling fire or the strange drifting voices of shadow people who secretly dwell around and outside every house.
And outside the house…why, nothing would exist outside this wondrous house. No buildings or cars or roads or trees. No wind or birds or bears. No hate or pain or loss or fear. No. Other. Human. Being.
The little girl was very happy dreaming about this beautiful house inside which there would be absolutely nothing to surprise her. The space would be entirely her own. Colorful rugs and books and crayons would appear when she wanted them to. They would disappear when they began to haunt her. She would be fed and clothed. She would be healthy and…happy. She would be blissful.
The little girl continued to grow this little house to suit her needs. She added slides and flowers and birds when she was lonely. She tore them down, and tore down her memory when she was afraid they were bearing down upon her fast. She made art but erased it as soon as it were done, before she could identify the patterns of pen and paint upon her book and start to feel them and feed them and be fed by them.
Then one day, on an unusually cold summer morning, without a single warning, somebody picked the entire house from over her head and…walked away. It was a beautiful clear day outside. The sun was shining and she loved it. But there was something unpleasant against her skin. It was the wind. It brushed against the little bristles of hair on her hand and whispered the first tidings of a painful world she was yet to seen. And then, just like that, she was plunged into reality. There was the honking of cars and the bellowing of smoke and the mooing of cows and the chirping of birds. But most of all…there were other people.
Hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of people. Everywhere the little girl looked, they were there. And they weren’t just still figures so she could stare into their eyes, ignoring their physical manifestations and unravel their identities with a single word or thought in her brain, and let that haunt her psyche. No! They moved. They talked! They loved and hated. They were hurt. They were in pain. They were speaking to themselves and to each other in a myriad of different languages with connotations and dialects and enunciations she could not unravel. They were weaving and threading stories, they were meeting and breaking apart. They were thrusting into each other, mentally and physically and spiritually. They were tearing themselves down, one atom after the other.
The little girl didn’t know what to do. She ran to the closest human and tried to explain to her that she had a house. A beautiful white house she couldn’t see anymore. She tried to ask him if he would help her find it. But the little girl realized that this human could not understand her. He looked at her and heard her and tilted his head to one side as though he was puzzled. But he wouldn’t help her. The little girl didn’t know why.
She rushed from human to human, asking someone, anyone…to guide her home. But now, something even stranger began to happen. The more she talked and stayed, the more attuned she became to the noise around her. The void she had missed so badly was now just a throbbing sweet nostalgic pain inside her. She was getting used to these people. Their chaos and their mayhem was becoming her own. But that wasn’t enough for this strange new world that she had suddenly entered. Oh no. These people she barely knew had begun to thrust their heads and necks and arms and legs inside her. They were merging with her and they were slowly engulfing her. Were they becoming her? That could not be, because she was just one and they were so many. She drifted around, wondering whether they too had fallen out of their own beautiful little houses.
But they had forgotten, she realized with a pang. They had forgotten what their houses had been like. Was she too, meant to forget? She couldn’t! A sense of panic and sorrow started to grip her. The more they thrust into her, the firmer she became in her angst. She was floating aimlessly in a sea of creatures who were just constructing realities as they went. There were too many of them. They were full of too many thoughts and emotions. She did not want to be a part of this world. She wanted her house.
But she couldn’t find it. She searched every corner of this world she was in before she realized that that house was gone. At least for a while. There were ways to bring it back to her, or bring herself back to it but she did not have access to those ways!
In the meantime, the world around her had made her almost entirely its own. Her body felt different now. It had smells. It moved differently. It weighed different. She hated it. But she could not remember what it had been like before so she could not complain.
Her mind felt different too. She could no longer make and erase things at will. Everything she said and did was written in stone. If others had thrust themselves into her at first, now she too was thrusting herself back into them. She didn’t know if the things she thrust into them were parts of herself or remnants of what had been thrust into her. She didn’t know the difference anymore and she couldn’t tell the pieces apart.
But even as she moved and breathed in this strange world, she was constantly uncomfortable. She knew pain, fear, guilt, hate, disgust, angst, misery, helplessness and anger now. She knew what they felt like to her and she could almost smell them on other people, she could almost tell what it felt like to them. And that was unpleasant. It made her cringe. It made her remember her beautiful little house.
Years have passed now. The little girl is probably no longer little. She still feels that way on the inside though. She doesn’t know if the house ever even existed! She has lived in this world long enough to forget what she missed. But still, more often than not, she feels that overpowering sense of sadness…the patter of rain on the pavement outside, the cry of a little child, the aches of her own heart, the chaos and madness of people whose paths and stories crisscross each day, as they thrust into and out of one another causing all sorts of miserable emotions. They don’t let her forget. She sees the world from the eyes of the little girl in that long-forgotten house and as long as she can’t let go of that house or let go of this world, a part of her will continue to scream invisibly.
PS: Disclaimer! The white house does not represent heaven, which I do not believe in anyway. The white house is not a good place to be in, for it is devoid of everything that gives us expression. The white house is a dull, boring and possibly unbearable place to exist in. Its manifestation in my life is probably a substitute for safety and love, free from every negativity- an actual impossibility.