Things like this beg no title

There’s this gullak in my brother’s room. It’s made of rough brown clay, unvarnished, pink and blue flowers painted on it. The slit in it is hardly wide enough to slide a coin in. I wonder who made it. Who was the potter? Was it an old, withered man with permanently muddy fingernails and a family to support? Or was it a young amateur boy looking to earn some roti for his orphaned siblings? It could be an old potter’s little boy, continuing the family profession and carrying on the legacy. The gullak has an imperfectly embossed bottom half. Whoever made it, is he still alive? Or maybe it was a she. Maybe it was a woman with soft, unaccustomed hands trying to shape the gullak, her first gullak, because she needed the money to buy rice she could boil for her baby who needed to start on chewy food. I wish we had the power to touch an object and be able to see who sweated to create it. It would make us so much more grateful.

.

There’s almost always an empty mug on my side table. I drink tea twice or thrice a day and then forget to pick up the mug. And it’s always a mug. I can’t drink in cups. They’re too small. And the tea can never have too much sugar. It makes my head spin. The mug is usually blue. Blue happens to be my favourite colour- along with dark green, bright yellow, and orange. I don’t really believe in favourites. I like all colours in different shades and contexts. When I was young, I hated pink and everything girly. I scorned at every girlish activity which people expected me to take part in. I rebelled against almost everything my elder sister liked. Now, pink fills up at least quarter of my wardrobe. I find I’m interested in jewellery, pretty clothes, bangles, knitting, cosmetics, and even cooking to an extent. But I’m most interested in writing and reading and the question of identity. A friend asked me a few days back, why are you so obsessed with identity? (The question of identity in Pakistani novels happens to be my research topic this semester, and I have a related topic in mind for my dissertation too, hence the question) So I found myself telling her about my imagination games in my childhood. My cousin and I used to talk for hours on the phone, sharing our “imaginations”. We had whole imaginary worlds made up in which such interesting things used to happen. They were more exciting and more fulfilling and perhaps more distressing than our real lives. I suppose everyone has these imaginary worlds with imaginary friends and even foes. Mine had a huge all-encompassing organization which used to authorize and facilitate numerous identities for one person. The bathroom mirrors were the operational screens for this organization. It was a whole complicated world. I had many different identities. And then in that imaginary world, it eventually got too difficult to manage all identities. So I killed off one, gave retirement to another, imprisoned another eternally, and had one married off and away. A few just vanished on their own as my interest in them dissipated. Perhaps that is the root of my obsession. Perhaps it goes deeper.

.

They say decentralization is one of the key themes of the postmodern world. We have no centre anymore since denouncing God has become a popular trend. Everything else that tries to be the centre fails. There’s a problem in everything. I’d say having so many problems with every problem too is a key theme of postmodernism. It’s a strange thing, this postmodern era. Everything is fragmented and disconnected. The means to find connection too are disconnected to no end. We float, our ideas float, our problems and their solutions float, all looking to find a centre when the centre never vanished.

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3 thoughts on “Things like this beg no title

  1. Maybe there is no identity, no enduring entity of self, no personal authenticity. Just onion-layered masks (& masques) that we present to others and ourselves to try to convince each other we exist. Imaginary worlds.

    I don’t think identity hinges on whether or not you acknowledge a god. God isn’t a centre, essence or core. Something boundless and infinite can’t be found by stripping away that which it is not, any more than something that isn’t there at all can be. You only need connections if you perceive separation.

    Perhaps you should keep discarding your superfluous identities until you have none left. Don’t be someone or something. Just be. It’s enough for the gullak, isn’t it?

    • I expected your comment while I was writing, do you know that? And I predicted it too.
      “Maybe there is no identity, no enduring entity of self, no personal authenticity. Just onion-layered masks (& masques) that we present to others and ourselves to try to convince each other we exist.”
      I’m coming to the same conclusion with my research. Almost the same.

      “I don’t think identity hinges on whether or not you acknowledge a god. God isn’t a centre, essence or core.”
      Of course I disagree.

      Just being would also depend on how you define being :p

  2. I expected your comment while I was writing, do you know that? And I predicted it too.

    See. I don’t need to have my own identity. Other people can do that for me. Or are you another person at all? If you can know my words before I write them maybe you’re me. Maybe the gullak is part of its maker. Or maybe its part of its admirer. Or both. If it’s a connection between its maker and its admirer has it, at least in part, subsumed the identity of all three entities, showing that none of them are really identities at all? So no connection is necessary.

    You’re lucky to have grown up in a culture that doesn’t fetishise individualism. So why start?

    Just being would also depend on how you define being

    Yeah, it doesn’t work so well if you think being is a noun rather than a verb. If you think you can be a being.

    “And they asked if I believe
    And do the angels really grieve
    Or is it all a comforting invention?
    It’s just like gravity, I said
    It’s not a product of my head
    It doesn’t speak, but nonetheless commands attention
    And I don’t care what it means
    Or who decorates the scenes
    The problem is more with my sense of pride
    Because it keeps me thinking “me”
    Instead of what it is to be
    I’m not a passenger, I am the ride”
    – from “I am the ride” by Chris Smither.

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