“Would you like to change the world?” This was the question life threw at me as a juvenile. Stuck between the opposing ideologies of the gems in my life, I kept finding if an affirmative answer could be reasonable.
Agile grandpa was a septuagenarian. He lived with my uncle in a bungalow situated in an evergreen environment, where the grandeur of Mother Nature was conspicuous. The lawn surrounding the bungalow was my hunting ground, where I often struggled to play with the little grasshoppers that dreaded every part of me. How I wished they could hear my voice and those words I partly gathered from a gem in my life: “Life is a game we need to play, not a war front where we need to smash the weak. My friend, let’s play for a while, and I will bid you goodbye before sunset.” I tried, but all to no avail. The grasshoppers were never attracted by my bloodless palms.
As soon as my uncle returned home in his vehicle, I would leap like my friends in the lawn and open my arms in the air. Bam, we would cling to each other. “Welcome, daddy.”
My uncle was the carbon copy of grandpa, but they had different perspectives with regard to the overriding question in my life. Maybe grandpa was compelled to live under my uncle’s roof after he lost his wife in death. Besides, it is a tradition to shelter the elderly where they could spend time with the closest people in their lives before sunset.
Other gems in my life were my parents. My father was probably in his forties. He had fulfilled his vow to unite with my mother. Still, this duo also presented different outlooks to me.
My father’s belief was a model of my uncle’s. They were siblings, brought up by the same parents, isn’t it? This is why one could assume they could not have different view of life either. But the reality was soon unveiled to me: they were not brought up with what they chose to believe in. They chose to believe differently while my mother shared reasons with grandpa.
These different ways of thinking could have divided the family if blood was not thicker than water.
Now, the same question had brought me to the cinema, where the audience was expectant of the secrets in my script. What could I do? I had been pestered by my sponsors to stage what I wished to publish.
The director, Zend, dressed in an impeccable suit and marching in heels, approached me at the backstage. “Mr Erick,” she called with a breathy tone, “we are raising the grand drape in four minutes’ time. Everyone is set. I hope you are ready.”
It was a rap in high accent, a nice voice. But I would not have responded if it were seven years ago because Erick was not my real name. I only tendered my affidavit and watched the newspaper declare a name that gives no clue of religious or ethnical attachment. Yes, I can remember the moment I smiled because I had accepted the world I live in, where division is a norm.
Looking up at Zend, I affirmed, “We can hit the ground running.”
Zend, seemingly in her thirties, had been directing the crew and supervising other activities at the backstage. “This way, that way,” she had kept saying in the foyer, even before we entered the backstage. The number of hellos she had voiced over the phone could even hail Graham Bell out of his grave. No doubt, she must be feeling the effect of stress, headache and pain in her joints. Still, she scrambled out again.
Now, the cinema was rowdy. The audience was expectant. My clock was ticking, with each tick counting down my moment at the backstage. I held my outline, glancing through it another short-lived round until the high-spirited Zend tapped my shoulder. “It is time,” she said.
“Uh,” I sighed. This must be my first and last moment with Henka’s Drama Crew. I was on edge not because the team wanted to be organised and proactive, but the lead members could hardly afford patience. Maybe it was all because they often lived on fast food and boarded aircraft. Their lifestyle, full of rush – as if a doomsday was looming, was not enviable to me. Anyway, it was time for business and I had to find my way to my paycheck.
I stood up, adjusted my suit and followed her. At a glance, I could now see her skirt hanging between heaven and earth. Maybe the ravaging sense of urgency had hindered her tailor from adding few inches to the length. “Man, mind your business,” my intuition cautioned me.
We walked out of the backstage, and boom, the grand drape was opened. The light was dimmed, and the audience exclaimed in high spirits as they saw my silhouette walking into the stage.
It was a presentation, my life on the screen, histories, philosophies and reasons in projection – one of its kinds.
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