In the non-mainstream Hindi film, Pinjar, there is a scene where the lead actress finds herself in a field. Prior to this scene, she had been abducted by a man who fancied her and conveniently also came from a family that is holding a grudge for something unbeknownst to the audience, that her grandfather had committed back in the day. Some days, or perhaps weeks, after her abduction, she had tried to escape, only to be sent back to her captor by her own family who had decided to disown her.
Back to the scene in the fields: The actress makes a trip with her mother-in-law, the mother of her abductor, to the town of the man she was engaged to, prior to her abduction. While walking amongst the crops, she gets lost in the natural course her life was supposed to take. We observe scenes of her in full bridal garb, walking around the fire with her intended fiancee, and then at her new husband’s family home, playing the traditional Punjabi game of finding each others’ rings that are placed in a saucer of milk.
After the audience has insight into her thoughts, the actress snaps out of her reverie, and standing in the field, begins to cry. Tears are streaming down her face and whimpers escape from underneath the scarf covering her head.
One of the field hands, upon seeing this voluminous silhouette, what with her long tunic and equally long pants, addresses her as “daughter”, and asks what is wrong.
She answers in Hindi. The literal translation is that she was dizzy. The English subtitles, however, seems to better capture the what she was emoting: She was feeling “giddy.”
I was walking around my neighborhood a couple of days ago, like everyday, in an attempt to reap the fat-burning results that are promised by cardio. I took a slightly off course route this time, off the major avenue that is. I needed a change of scenery, so I walked without concern for where I was going because it is absolutely impossible for me to get lost in the place in which I grew up.
I stumbled upon the middle school I had attended. Completely unchanged in facade as it were, I spotted the exact room where I had math in seventh grade and remembered having scored 100% on one of the toughest tasks presented at the time. I remember taking the lead on this 2-person assignment. Turns out this pair of students, my partner and I, both went onto Ivies years later.
Here is where it all began to fall into place, I thought, “It” referring to my intellect and the formation of my ambitions.
I continued to walk a couple of feet and saw the little alcove facing the recess area. This alcove was the band storage room, where all the instruments were kept. I remember looking through the window to find a guy I fancied at the time and who I knew had lunch period at the same time that I had band. Unsurprisingly, he and I shared a common heritage.
So much has not changed about myself, I think.
Not even a foot later, I spot the bench where my classmates and science teacher hung out after a trip because it was close to the end of the school day.
I remember having told the teacher my aspirations of being a physician, an aspiration I no longer have.
That teacher is no longer alive, I found out a couple of years later while I was at college and via a Facebook event made for his funeral.
So, things have changed, I think.
I kid you not, wind chimes were clinking to produce an eerily harmonized tune from a tree across the street from the school. It was not until I passed said pedagogical establishment that I no longer heard the chiming.
I was feeling giddy, much like the actress in the movie. I wasn’t crying, but my head held an abundance of simultaneous thoughts that seemed to warrant vocalizing, as if a preface for tears.
The past brought upon me an onslaught of a future I had pictured for myself.
I saw my 13-year old self at my birthday party at home. I was wearing a navy blue, ribbed tank with cut-off sleeves that I would never imagine myself wearing now. I remember sitting on the floor of my living room, back leaning on the partition to the kitchen, soft dark curls, my hair left natural, and lighter brown curls framing my face, staring into space in an attempt to see my future as someone who had officially reached the adolescent stage. As if reading my thoughts at that exact moment, I overhear an auntie tell my mom, “Reshmi looks so pretty. She looks like she’s growing up.”
That was 10 years ago and yet I remembered the whole conversation after I walked several feet away from my one of my alma maters.
Everything is different, but in some, ‘coordinates of the origin’ type of way, not so much.