Tuesday, July 18, 2023

I've been doing a lot of extremely interesting writing exercises—some as a personal challenge and some as external challenges. One of those turned into a writing assignment for my future self but in a way that I've never heard/done before (no details cause you're not a paid subscriber). Having just finished hammering those words out, I felt a deep wave of emotions run past cause god fucking knows how this exercise is helpful in unlocking core memories. 

This time I found myself as an 11-year-old, sitting in the dance room of my school. Think of this space as a large empty room with rows of red plastic chairs stacked on top of each other. The front entrance of the room had a blackboard, with a wall clock (something that other rooms lacked), a crucified Jesus photograph, a cross mounted on the wall, and a speaker that I'd never seen work. 

I've spent countless hours in that room between fete, practice, sessions on how to cope with periods, dance parties etc. Unlike most parts of my school, I never particularly liked or disliked it. The man, our dance teacher, made a lot of girls feel like they are his children; and later during #MeToo, the allegations against him came as no surprise to me (or the group of people I follow on socials) that he was apparently a creep to many young girls. Doesn't shock me one bit. 

I find myself in this room, sitting cross-legged on the floor, waiting for the class to get over. We're not dancing or rehearsing an old routine, we are simply sitting and wasting time. It's this time of the year, some 20 years ago, when we had 4 fans to a class of 50 girls and all of us are drenched in sweat, smelling like fish gone bad. I'm staring at the wall clock to hit 1:25 pm so we are allowed to leave this space and leap towards our building in the other part of the campus, so we can pack our bags and hit the road by 1:35. It's not a lot of time, just 15 minutes to go. In those 15, my mind watches the second hand of the clock take the slowest turns around the circumference of the wall clock. I wonder if I'll ever grow up and get out of this school, this town and shed this skin to have a new life. I wonder if I'll ever be happier than I am right now and I wonder if I'll have any of these existing people around me accompany me on my journey later. 

One of the few who found herself in this journey with me told me recently, how grateful she was for me to snap to my reality at present where she is not watching me burn my whole life down. In essence, I want her to continue on this journey with me but she's planning to leave the country and escape town. Exactly like I was at that moment, staring at the wall clock while sitting cross-legged in that dance room. Mentally, I'm that girl in the dance room, where I haven't been able to escape the drudgery and continue living through every second, every minute and every hour of the wall clock hanging in a room where I don't want to be. 

I wish I could go and hug that girl and tell her we'll be okay, no matter what. That, if we can't leave the room on time, we'll still hit the road and we'll still have a place to go to and call it home. A warm embrace, a car air conditioner and a bottle of chilled water will always be around the corner, whether in that moment in the dance room when she's parched and out of drinking water or 45 minutes later. 

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