“i opened my eyes, and the first thing i saw was – WHITE”
Even as I took joy in expressing my controversial opinions, I would still hear sound of my inner voice advising me: “shut up”. More often than not, I would listen to that voice. Meanwhile, there was a side of me that secretly harboured thoughts that were dying to be expressed, a voice in my heart that desperately wanted to be heard, and bits of my soul that were fighting to break free. Every time I was faced with a dilemma, the two voices would break into an ugly war, and it was the same one that came out victorious every time: the voice that urged me to shut up.
I was in the same room, with the same people, and the same one sided conversation was going on. But there was something in the air that day. Something which was different and unfamiliar.
I blinked. Was that some kind of a weird, grey-coloured marshmallow I just saw? A cloud, maybe. I blinked again. Hmm. I guess I was just imagining it.
The unwritten rules of society are just as important as the ones written in the holy book. Somewhere in between those hefty sets of rules, exists art. And art is beyond all those rules, boundaries and limitations! I thought.
There was a seven-inch miniature replica of the Eiffel tower on the top of the rectangular wooden coffee table right in the middle of the living room. I stared at it.
As the generator’s battery started to run out, my room became warmer and my skin got damper. I sighed in exasperation and pushed back my glasses which were sliding down to the edge of my nose. When I regained my vision, I saw again that grey, smoke-like cloud floating in mid-air, obstructing my view of the Eiffel tower. I blinked again. This time, the smoke like structure did not budge.
“Uncle insists you become a doctor. It earns you money” I heard. His voice sounded very low and faint to me, I could hardly hear him at all. This was surprising, because whenever he opened his mouth, he makes sure he is the loudest person in the room. Now I could brush this off as a peculiar instance, but there were so many creepy things happening that I couldn’t help but freak out. Have I fallen asleep? Am I dreaming?
“And it would certainly help to get your mind off those useless novels and paintings. I mean, take it from…..” it became impossible to hear him finish his sentence. I started to feel my heart beat rise. Okay, that’s it! What’s going on?
My entire body shook as I fell to the ground, wrapped my hands around my head and screamed uncontrollably. Gradually, the pain subsided. It took me a while to catch my breath and when I got myself back on my feet, I was afraid to open my eyes. I forced myself to squint. The coast was clear. I opened my eyes, and the first thing I saw was white. It was only after I’d twisted and turned my neck at every angle possible that I realized everything around me was completely white.
All sorts of thoughts raced through my mind. Am I dead? Wow, that was easy! Did I just cross over to the other side? Whoa, maybe I’ll finally get to meet god! Am I in a state of coma? Could I be dreaming? I need to wake up before someone notices!
In the midst of all these thoughts, I saw a swirl of yellow paint floating around in random directions. It was similar to the cloud-like structure I’d seen earlier, only of a different color. I reached for it. As if on cue, it suddenly dawned on me: this place is a blank canvas, and I can paint it!
So, I tested my intuitive mind by using the tips of my fingers to carefully write something with the yellow paint onto the whiteness around me. I was writing down my name. This was the first thought that came to my mind. This was the only thing I remembered at that time that I am Ramla… My name is Ramla…. Okay I am Ramla. Who is Ramla. I so wanted to sketch my face. I was continually trying to remind how I look like. I was drawing random lines one on top of another. As I tilted my head to get an angled view of my calligraphic masterpiece, swirls of different colors began to fill up the space around me, I had never seen colors like that in my whole life! Here I was, standing in the middle of nowhere, experiencing the kind of mesmerizing beauty you only get to read about in novels. I wasted no time, and started to have fun; I made designs, created sceneries and painted faces. The feelings of my finger being dipped inside some magical liquid and then moving across the white canvas was refreshing. I could create whatever in wanted, and no one was around to object.
It felt as though something deep within me had just been unlocked. I was no longer creating symmetrical patterns or drawing organized designs; I was creating a spontaneous mess. My inner clean-freak remained silent and watched as I hurled and flung the colors at the canvas, and splattered them over myself too.
But it was not long before the two voices in my head broke into a battle again. The chaos caused me indescribable pain. I heard myself scream words, sentences and phrases that I’d kept to myself for so many years. I felt the voice that used to tell me to shut up, choke to death. And for the first time in my life, I knew what it felt like to be truly free.
I looked at the mess I’d just finished creating on the canvas. I was in charge of what happened on that canvas. I am in charge of my life. I should live it the way I want to. I might create a mess, I might fall on my face, and I might regret making certain choices. But I know that in the end, it will be the voice of my heart, not the voice of other people, which will lead me to the right place. Now I could either stay silent or I could speak up. I chose the latter. I made the first choice of my life, and I never looked back.