“Sometimes it is the people who no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”
My monotony makes me forget something important about today. What is it? I keep asking myself this as I trudge through the gates into college, expecting another day of pretentious soap-opera drama and drawling lectures that usher me into the land of melancholy dreams.
And that’s when I hear the trees around me singing. I notice the branches swaying on command by the wind as if to bat away the blistering sun and form a protective shield around me. It seems like they’re alive. I sling my backpack on the other shoulder with a faint smile and move past the canopy.
A couple of hundred yards away from my academic block, I hear a pair of voices discussing a matter of utmost importance,
“Alright. You’re gonna go to IC, roll over, and get some pictures clicked. I’m gonna go towards the food trucks and scavenge around for some nuggets.”
“Sounds like a plan. And hey- don’t forget to do the cute eye thing.”
“How many times do I have to tell you, Rocky? We’re not doing what those pussies do!”
I whip around to confront these bizarre individuals but instead find myself staring at two of the plumpest dogs I’ve ever laid my eyes on. The strays freeze at their respective spots. And thus starts the weirdest stand-off I’ve ever been in.
“You got any treats, boy?”
I retreat towards the other direction. Probably just the occasional delusion, I convince myself. If there’s one place where everything must be normal, it should be Student Plaza. The centre of all student activity, with people always going in and out of the place. Hopefully, the dogs haven’t plotted to ambush anyone down there.
As I walk towards the plaza, I see the adjoining walls brought to life. Literally. Each artwork on the wall is being projected as holographs for one to walk through. Virtual art. The stuff of the future. Should I just stop eating every brownie that I find?
The people around me though, seem largely unaffected. How is something so drastic, so unexpectedly breathtaking, only a mundane part of their lives? If I ask questions though, they’ll look at me, and I don’t want to draw any attention to myself. Frustrated, I stare at the gravel on the road as if it were a perpetual masterpiece and walk ahead.
Student Plaza is adorned with decorations, and I’m greeted with the sight of the crowd bustling with this breathtaking energy. A slight grin lights up on my face. I had completely forgotten about our college’s annual fest.
I look around to spot familiar faces. And upon seeing them, I dodge their searchlights by cutting towards the juice shop.
Almost immediately, three peppy volunteers come at me with a poster each in hand. Before I can figure out an exit route though, the leader of the trio speaks,
“Hey, would you like to see the solo theatrical performance today?”
I try shaking my head to signal my disinterest. But why on earth is it so hard to pull off this mere muscle action? And then I hear her enticing voice yet again,
“Please, I insist you attend the performance. It’s going to be brilliant.”, she assures in a commanding yet soothing manner.
I feel my brain slow down as I listen to her, and find myself involuntarily walking along with the crowd. It’s a very curious feeling; I know for a fact I don’t want to watch the performance, but I’m still heading towards the auditorium to watch it. It’s almost like the girl has willed me into doing her bidding with her mere words? How?
I scan the auditorium to find good seats, find a spot and make myself comfortable. Courtesy of my personal hypnotist, I’m rooted to the spot. I see the curtains draw to reveal a man in a white tuxedo. The show starts off as a mundane mono act that was as ordinary as the passage of time.
“Grandma! Grandma!” the actor calls out. And that’s when it happens; right when I start wondering if there are more characters in the play, the man….glitches?
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Still in utter disbelief of what’s happening, I see an old lady appear on the stage. And no, she doesn’t walk in from backstage. She just whips into existence in a split second, at the exact same spot as the man.
I try to put two and two together, and it slowly dawns upon me that it is indeed a mono act. The man transfigures into multiple characters on stage to put on a show that has me hooting and cheering by the end.
When he bows to the audience at the end of his act, my curiosity is sky-rocketing and I know I just have to ask. So I turn to a fellow spectator, “How did he do that? I don’t get it.”
“Eh… I’ve seen better.”
“What?! You’ve seen people do that before?”
“Obviously. I’ve seen stage plays before,” replies the spectator nonchalantly.
“What are you talking about? You’ve seen people transfigure into other people?”
“What else are they supposed to do? They’re actors, it’s their thing right?” He’s almost irritated at this point.
I do not understand what’s happening anymore. It seems that the world I knew has ceased to exist. Why is the line between fiction and reality getting blurred? I feel like a stranger struggling to breathe through an air of unfamiliarity, cluelessness and now, fear. “Where am I?”
I try my best to ignore the unease consuming me. Hoping for some normalcy from the other event everybody is heading to, I decide to give it a shot. I push through the increasing rush and get a glimpse of a massive stage set up. I can feel the music pulsating through me. And for the first time today, it feels like something good is about to take place.
‘What is the worse that could happen?’
A band of four are onstage, and about to begin their set. The moment they hit the first note, I see a flash. As the song progresses, more flashes occupy the cloudless sky. The bridge of the song takes place under an electrified sky. And quite literally, the bright yellow surges over the dark of the night.
How did I not expect the unexpected?
The weather keeps morphing as the band goes on with their set. The electrifying start is followed by a love song; a calm orange sky just before sunset. The changing sky makes me fall deeper for each song. Rain accompanies the sad parts, while a clear blue sky with the happy bits. An experience like no other.
The crowd goes berserk as the closing number begins. The sky becomes kaleidoscopic. The colours move with schemes of blue, red, green, and specks of yellow and white. I can see the patterns become more definite as the crowd sings louder. Bursts of blue and white shroud the air above us as the show reaches its climax. The applause is thunderous, and the crowd disperses from the Proshow with dreamy smiles and hopeful hearts.
But hopeful is definitely not how I feel right now. How can I feel hopeful, when I’m stuck in a universe I do not belong? With no superpower or any idea of what it can be; how am I going to survive here? Dejected, and frankly missing the reality I once knew, I make myself comfortable on the grass. I can see people leaving, but where am I to go?
How did I get here?
I pluck some grass and look around to see the organizers packing up, putting their telepathic abilities to good use. It’s quite a sight to see entire stalls fold themselves and whiz through the air, right into the loading trucks.
I feel a hand on my shoulder. I look up to see a guy from the vigilance department. He’s probably here to tell me to leave. And that’s the last straw. Tears start welling up as I accept the fact that I’ve come to a dead end.
With his powerful wings folded to his back, he sits next to me. He has a well-built figure that just emanated strength. There’s something reassuring about him, a feeling I haven’t felt the entire day. Within no time, I pour my heavy heart out to him. And within no time, my shoulders start feeling lighter.
Ignoring my anxiety, I ask him why I didn’t have any powers.
“You do too. Your superpower is not something given to you. You have to find it from within and make it your own.
It takes me a while to process this simple piece of information.
“What is something that you are passionate about?”
I said I don’t know.
“Yet,” he adds. “Just calm down for a moment. You’ll figure it out.”
I don’t know if I can do it.
“Just let it out man, whatever you’re thinking about.”
I wipe away my tears and let out a deep sigh.
“There’s this……story I’ve written. I think of it whenever I’m feeling low. It starts with a harsh winter plagued by darkness.”
“A girl sees this sight from her window. Through the little opening, she sees the vast stretch of white with no life whatsoever.”
From the corner of my eye, I see the ground expand. There’s a sudden chill in the air and I see the place turning white.
“After months of this tumultuous weather, one day the sun came out.” I kept it going. “The girl wakes up to see the snow melting away. There’s new life being instilled into her town. The sense of desolation, replaced by one of hope.”
And as these words are being spoken, the newly formed white under our feet turns to green. The sadness I felt after the Proshow starts to seem momentary.
Have I found it?
“As the sun breaks the midnight sky, it finally starts making sense.”
I have found it.
My stories are my superpower.
The stories that I weave are the changes I can bring about in this life.
The stories written by me.
The stories that revolve around you.
The story of us.
Written by Aarohi Sarma, Chintan Gandhi, and Siri Rajanahally
Edited by Sanjay Kumar
Graphics by Jyotinder Singh
Featured Image by Yashovardhan Parekh
Photos by Akshat Chourasia and Pinterest