By: Antara Jha
They call him the Creator.God makes us all with dirt . Shaping the clay with his own two hands. Moulding and caressing the figures till perfection and then, he breathes life into those clay beings . He’s a master artisan, a sculptor who creates beautiful people, but I guessed he messed up. You see most people, when he makes them, have fixed features, distinguishing quatilies that form as the clay is baked with the hot breath of life , a force that comes from His lips . But, me, no , I came into this world defected. When the clay on my face was still wet. And you know the property of wet clay, it’s plastic. It’ll stay however you mould it to.Just as you want it to be.
This all didn’t matter to me as a child. I didn’t know any better . I was a happy little child , very satisfied with life,so unaware. There’s wasn’t much of an option there really . They would pull my cheeks and exclaim at how I was such an adorable child. This made me happy,felt loved , well , I didn’t have much room for else, when your cheeks are perpetually shaped into a smile , you really cant say better. Yes, that’s what happens with clay , it takes whatever shape you give to it. Becomes whatever you want.
Realisation came later , and I met my friend, the mirror.( The only thing I could rely on, later). At first, it was hard to digest that the crazy smiling kid in the mirror was me. You know, Freud talks about the ‘mirror stage’. It was tough , not to digest the fact that the kid in the mirror was me, but to accept the fact the I looked like “THAT”. I couldn’t understand why that grin was plastered on my face, other people didn’t look like me, they were more serious and sensible looking . So, I tried to pull my smile down , and this was the first time I discovered myself. I could do whatever I wanted to my face, shape it however I wished , be whoever I wanted to be like. Now I could finally be like everyone else , fit in with whoever I wanted to be with. Blend in. Oh, the ultimate aim of life. TO have the same identity as everyone else.
So I started practising, trying very very hard. It takes a while to learn the arts , to be able to shape things into exactly what you want them to be , Into Perfect guises. But I soon got the hang of it, I guess was I was gifted . But no one else should know this secret , otherwise any one could make be whoever they wanted me to be , and I’d have to comply . this, is what would happen with me as a child, but no more. Yes, the same, I wanted to be different , just like everyone else.
So I thought if I could be with one face for long enough, maybe it’ll harden into it, one of the crowd. Normal. But that never happened, we moved around too much , never stay in one place for too long. Urban gypsies ,trying to live in the fleeting moments that we spend in one single place. Transient, as time was, we’d be like that. Before you can get used to one place , we moved around. There was another angle to this whole story , it was call Home , or the bigger idea of home. Not the house I lived in, with my parents, not the tiny world that I would build around myself . But some larger universe that I was supposedly a part of , something I couldn’t relate to.
But atleast I was an expert at my home face, I could make that in seconds. Yes, its right that no one, not one solitary person, truly understood what was beneath that, but thank god for that. (And, besides, ias long I was projecting the correct image for our perfect universe, nothing mattered.) The thing is, who wants people to know what goes on in your head anyway?
So I grew up like this , fitting into the missing puzzle pieces wherever I went , and I went a lot of places . Growing up haphazard, taking away with me a little of wherever I was, somehow it kept getting absorbed into the clay , slightly hardening it, but not much. I was still as malleable as ever.
I kept wanting a history, like everyone around, like the had a huge epic of traditions behind them. I had one too, back in that parallel universe called Home, but that was in another language. Something I could never truly relate to. So, I lived my little short stories instead . Putting fullstops to places and experiences, never letting the feeling sink in too deep ,because what if I started missing it? What if the clay hardened and I couldn’t put myself into shape again?
This continued fine until college , well then, age just started catching up. Ideas formed inside the head, made me think , unconsciously mould my face into something, without realising it much. And, I have to leave my friend the mirror away, I was too busy to hang out with him anymore. Before I knew it, I’d begun to mould my character, it wasn’t something I’d done before .The tough bit, the clay , already impregnated with memories of places visited, started to harden. I didn’t notice.
Not until , in the holidays I decide to take a trip back to Home, that galaxy far far away. And this time, I just couldn’t . I couldn’t reshape my face , of course it looked more or less the same , so no one else noticed, but I, who had perfected this art . who could sculpt their face in such a way , that I could possibly look like Michaelangelo’s David , knew that something had changed.
All I’d hoped for all these years , I now finally had, an identity of my own. But all I’d always dreaded had finally come true too , I was different , from everyone else . I was different from what I’d always been , the clay had finally started to harden, and this time when I tried to remould myself… cracks stared to appear. Permanency in life? Was it for the better or for the worse?