I-Land is where memories and experiences turn into short stories, personal journal entries and narration in first person, part memoir, part fiction, exploring topics such as the relation between humans and the societies they live in.

Tearing The Cocoon: Boxed In


[Previously on TTC: My field, be it a wheat patch or a hunting ground, happens to fall outside a world so intertwined and closely knit, I need to tear through it and break free into a world of possibilities it could never offer. Until I do so, I will not be complete.]

You may perhaps wonder what precipitated this outpour of self-examination and introspection. Was there a specific event after which I said to myself, ‘Enough!’?

Yes, there was. I came to a flat full of boxes from another flat. That flat was being renovated and the tenants, relatives of mine, decided to send me my share’s worth, and sundry. Long story.

Anyway, inside these boxes I found belongings I hadn’t seen for years, items carrying their own stories and memories, their joys and torments. Striped polo shirts and black leather jackets from the previous decade. A pair of slippers and a DVD player with a scart plug. An airport best-seller 700 pages thick involving a family secret, an airport, a string of expat characters with names like Ryker and Esmeralda, and an exotic country run by a gang boss called El Pepe. Next to it an old duffel bag and a bunch of used airline tickets and stubs crushed into a growth of paper. Items from a bygone life, accumulated like driftwood in isolated embankments, in drawers and closets not opened in a long time.

In the midst of this memory flotsam some forgotten jewels. Five Alfred Hitchcock films from the early period and a Tennessee Williams movie collection, plus an old manuscript called Warning! Unknown Terrain Ahead . . . and a stack of rare vinyls by the Doors and Pink Floyd and a California metal band called Warlord, stashed away for safekeeping. My own little treasure trove dug out and delivered to me out of the blue, bringing back memories.

Put together without warning, these items were beyond nostalgic. They spoke of a life packed with accumulated meaning, heavy with a purpose none too clear now. I had been free of these items for years, some of which I had missed, some of which I had forgotten about, gladly too – yet here they now were, cluttering my flat, leaving me little space around which to maneuver.

Irony is wonderful. After a long stint in a strange location across the ocean, where I had been a guest, a welcome stranger, with all the pros and cons such an expedition entails, I had returned home where I would now have the privilege of being in my own property, in control of my basic needs, able to recharge for a while, only to be compromised by elements of my own past, possessions cluttering not only my personality and sense of self but also my very physical space.

(There is something beautiful about this kind of symmetry, which, however burdensome and frustrating, has to be acknowledged for what it is: sheer perfection in a perfectly ironic sense. I cannot but praise its immaculateness.)

Anyway, I was totally unprepared for this physical clutter, which only added to my already rising sense of mental clutter borne out of my return home, and didn’t know how to react.

I ended up setting my luggage to the side and watching three movies on SkyPlus back to back, two of which I had never watched before and one which I had: All Good Things, Sweet Bird Of Youth, and Rebecca.

They proved extremely useful in a most serendipitous manner down the line. I will tell you about them some other time. What matters now is that by the end of the third film I fell into an all too familiar slumber.

You may think, ‘How is that useful?’

Well, things have a way of working out when you least expect them to, especially when you know how to turn around a bad situation. How to lead your enemy where you want him to be and make things work for you rather than against you. How to use gravity to your advantage.

See, I could feel the weight of things bearing down on me, dragging me down, down, down deep to a place dark and suffocating. The only way to deal with it was to close my eyes and pretend I wasn’t there.

But I was there. I had been there before, on a number of dreadful occasions. I knew the signs all too well.

The signs of depression.

Watch this space for Part 12