Monday, June 20, 2011

The laughing lamp-post.

I understand, all right. The hopeless dream of being- not seeming, but being.

Every evening at seven thirty, as the moon rises over the bridge and threatens to shimmer into the river through the dark dark trees, bats fly from one end of the sky to the other. More than a thousand of them.

At every waking moment, alert. The gulf between what you are with others and what you are alone. The vertigo and the constant hunger to be exposed, to be seen through, perhaps even wiped out. Every inflection and every gesture a lie.

Every smile a grimace.

They glide over our craned necks. Threatening to collide. The vast blanket of talons and leather wings. And if you lay down on your back like me, you can feel them swishing past, struggling against that particularly strong gust of wind which threatens to throw them off course. I've always been in love with the shape of a bat's wing. Whats the word? Morbidly curious. They're blind, you know. Bats. Funny little creatures. Sometimes, I feel sorry for the one in the front.

No, too vulgar.
But you can refuse to move, refuse to talk, so that you don't have to lie. You can shut yourself in. Then you needn't play any parts or make wrong gestures.

Or so you thought.*

Or so you thought. Because secretly, we all love to be heard while crying. Because weak and pathetic that we are, we only want to know whether we are thought about. Remembered. Talked about. Because all that remains of a conversation is not about what was spoken. But to whom it was spoken to.

The blind bats always find their way. Everyday.

When I was a kid, there was a lamp-post next to my house. It was a funny lamp-post. Literally. All you had to do was tell the lamp-post a joke, and it would shine nice and bright. And if you had to shut it down, all you had to do was scare it. You could shout as loud as you could, make scary faces or growl. Or you could throw stones at the Ashoka trees nearby to wake the huge colony of bats which lived there and make them fly around. That really scared the poor lamp-post.

But the real test would be to make the lamp-post laugh. If you told the lamp-post a joke and it didn't shine nice and bright, then obviously, your joke was not funny enough. But if it did, then you'd found a real good joke, you know. The lamp-post laughed, afterall.

I miss the laughing lamp-post.

(*Excerpts from the film Persona(1966), written and directed by Ingmar Bergman.)

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