She sat quietly in her seat on the train, watching the world fly past the windows, mesmerized by the colours, the blurring edges of a reality gone too soon to grasp, the unique odour of each person that walked near, the conversations that surrounded her…
‘My head…’ she closed her eyes, ‘my head hurts.’
I reached out but withdrew my hand. I didn’t know her well enough to help, yet.
‘Are you okay?’ I asked.
‘There’s too much, I’ve taken in too much…’ she whispered. Then opening her eyes to look at me, she asked, ‘Doesn’t that happen to you too? Don’t you get consumed by the world that your head hurts too?’
‘Me?’ I was mildly taken aback. I had barely looked around at my surroundings on this trip. ‘I haven’t actually noticed the world.’
‘What?’ she replied, opening her eyes wider, pools so deep I felt I could almost see into her and for a moment, I grew shy, afraid that I’d been unwittingly allowed to look into her soul.
‘You mean… you can let a day pass by without seeing it much?’ she continued. ‘How do you do that? How do you walk through a day without getting consumed by its elements?’
‘Oh I get consumed. Just not with this,’ I waved weakly at our surroundings. It was a train, a mundane trip I took everyday. There was nothing new to see, nothing that sparked any interest in me. I’d seen it all before – the rush hour crowd, the busy people, the tired chairs, the continuous flow of humans in and out. There was nothing new.
‘Then… what are you consumed with?’ she straightened up, looking intently at me.
‘Work? My books? Maybe… my thoughts?’ I answered, not sure why I felt somehow, guilty for not seeing the world as she did.
‘Oh,’ she hunched down again. We sat there for a few minutes in silence.
‘The things you are consumed with… do they make you happy?’ she spoke, looking at her feet.
‘Not happy, more a necessity. I mean, they are important details, things in my life I need to handle to ensure that you know… life goes on smoothly.’
‘My head still hurts. And I don’t think watching the world makes me happy either,’ she replied.
I didn’t have anything to say to that and it seemed, neither did she. We sat there, two souls, consumed by our separate worlds.
‘I scared you?’ I was in disbelief. ‘Is it the honesty and the fact that a person can be so blatant about the darkness she goes through?’
‘No, it’s not the honesty. It’s the fact that you can look at the darkness and not be consumed by it.’
– a frank conversation
I once had a box – a Dorian Gray black hole where I hid the darkness in my character, in hope that by burying elements of my incongruous self, I’d be able to walk into a beautiful life. That box represented everything that I didn’t want to be.
What I believed was a lie. The things I hid in the dark festered, like an untreated wound. In denying myself, I felt like I was living life half-ways. Each statement I made was filtered through my fears and I constantly weighed my actions, asking, ‘Did I reveal too much? Did I do the wrong thing? Will I be misunderstood?’ or worse… ‘Did they see how I really feel?’
It became a trying chore: running to the box each time I had a negative thought and hiding what I truly felt, while plastering on a plastic smile for a world that didn’t care.
‘What’s that you hold in your hands?’ The Dream Maker asked me one day, while I was busy sealing shut the box.
‘My heart,’ I replied. ‘I detest everything I see in it. I wish it would all go away.’
‘If you don’t want it, can I have it?’ He asked. I looked at Him in disbelief.
‘No! You’ll be shocked at what’s inside! It’s filled with shame, despair, evil and all sorts of mockery! Why do you want it? What will you do with it?’ I said.
‘Can I have your heart?’ He asked again.
Sighing, I held the box closer to myself. But what did I have to lose? Cautiously, I extended it out to Him.
‘Thank you,’ He replied easily. ‘It’s part of who you are… and I love everything about you. Can I keep this?’
Puzzled, I nodded, relived that the weight was no longer in my hands. I couldn’t care less what happened next. I was just tired of pretending that the darkness didn’t exist. The Dream Maker opened the box and I recoiled, expecting to see an avalanche pour out… but exposed to His light, the darkness transmuted into a quiet pale smokiness.
‘Wha… what did you do?’ I gasped.
‘It’s not what I did,’ He smiled at me. ‘It was what you did. You allowed me to consume all that you are.’ Turning away, He glanced back at me once more… ‘I’m always here. I’ll consume every darkness in you. There’s nothing to be afraid of. They won’t hurt you anymore…’
I stood there watching Him walk away with a surreal lightness of being.
They won’t hurt me, I thought to myself.
They can’t. Not anymore.
I was consumed by Him.