Wednesday, December 07, 2005
[ * That’s tosh. The real reason is that my broadband connection has been kaput for the last couple of days, so my hours of happy occupation have been heavily cut down, thereby forcing me to turn to a different mode of entertainment. ]
When I look back at my life as it was at age 12-15, the one word that rises above all others to define that period (apart from maybe ‘sex’) is ‘gloom’. Self-imposed gloom, of course. And the reason it was imposed was that at this particular age, one thinks gloom is glamorous and sexy. It makes sense. The brooding mystique looms very high in life at that age. The ‘nobody understands me’ and the evergreen ‘nobody loves me, everybody hates me’ emotions are at their peak, and one tends to think that whole world is centred around one, and that others just don’t seem to understand that. And my proclamation is illustrated by the millions of blogs out there by people of that age.
When I was 12 years old, I wanted to be a hitman when I grew up. Murder was the coolest thing ever, and I wanted in on it. The more gruesome, the better. I was at an age where I would have taken Sin City seriously, and that’s only the start of it. I honestly believe that if anyone was able to peek into the mind of an early teenager, they would be utterly revolted. It isn’t as if teens necessarily mean bad, they just seem to be going about everything the wrong way. But I must say that this is an incomplete way of thinking (which is why I used the word ‘seem’), because while teenagers may think about creepy stuff, they don’t usually do it, and they largely end up alright. But the sheer conviction a teenager emanates in its attitude towards anything is frightening.
Still, today, when I am disinclined to believe in anything too strongly (probably just a temporary state of affairs), I have a sneaking admiration for the teenager I used to be, if only because he believed in things with much more abandon.
A few days ago, while checking out the archives of DesiPundit, I found a link to a very interesting post (I have linked it, but it’s no use, since the page, along with the blog, seems to have disappeared since then). The blogger took a poll amongst her friends to see if any of them had had an imaginary friend when they were little. And when I realised that I identified with not just one, but at least six or seven different answers, I decided I had to take a visit to the loony bin. So I came here.
I had a couple of imaginary friends when I was a kid. (“Was?” a friend asked after reading this.) But since I did not have any soft toys (my parents were distinctly of the ‘different toys for girls and boys’ school of thought), my imaginary friends were He-Man action figures and G. I. Joes. To make things even better for my fertile imagination, these figures have an iron endoskeleton, and a friend of mine had a nifty set of magnets, so we would use them to make the figures fight with each other without us having to touch them – it was just like the real thing. For a long time, ever since I heard the concept of film directors, I was under the honest delusion that film actors were all G. I. Joe action figures, which the directors played with. You don’t need to point out the fallacy here, but back then I could think of no possible reason why actual people might want to be bossed around by someone – I knew what that was like, and it was not nice.
But more than having imaginary friends or action figures, it was being an action figure that had the biggest appeal to me. From standard 3 to standard 6, my greatest pastime during school lectures was to become the neighbourhood super-powered vigilante. The name of my alter ego, for some very strong reason that escapes me now, was Jebediah. At the slightest warning from my super-hearing, I would crash through the window of my classroom, turn into the magnificent Jebediah (who looked like Spiderman with Superman’s cape – those two being the only superheroes I knew) and go around saving the world (which, back then, consisted solely of my locality, my school, and the road connecting the two), and generally having a good time. So you realise that the glassy stare I invariably, almost reflexively, assume whenever I am in a classroom is not a new innovation.
Apart from action figures, R/C cars were something I liked a lot. Not having one myself, I imagined one. And this little truck, which I also mentioned here, was my faithful companion through many a boring bus-trip on which I was forbidden to read, being expressly warned that ‘it would hurt my eyes’.
I have always talked to myself. For a time around the age 9-10, I vaguely wondered if it meant I was a loony, but then I figured I didn’t really care. One reason for that was very simple – I usually understood me (remember I was at an age where I thought no one else did). The other reason was that I hated language – as a subject, I mean. You might wonder how this is related, but when, at the age of 11 or so, I discovered that English was interesting, and so was writing, my conversations with myself dropped drastically. Even today, I talk to myself much less often when I am actively working on a piece of fiction.