The in-betweeners

Something strange happens to me. I go to this place, the closet in my head, where I can’t read or write or even watch television the most passive of things to do. I feel restless and uninterested and skim over blogs in freshly-pressed desperate to feel a prick of the old interest I have felt before. The only time I am happy is in my little garden where in a deep well of Indian summer heat, sunflowers are blooming a hot, glad yellow. When I look over at them from the living room, I feel a prick of interest, of life, perhaps even passion. That warm yellow is life itself and this colour that bees adore leaks into the dark closet where I have gone, it stops me from deadening away inside. Life is if anything feeling interested in things, not this hiding away and curling up in corners far from a world in which you feel alien. image

Many years ago, I realized I am an `in-between’. I have felt dislocated my whole life, having been brought up in one culture then upping stakes moving with my parents to their nativity, which by that time was alien to me. Then one day in class a teacher told me in no uncertain terms that I would never belong anywhere. The teacher’s words hurt. The words came tinged with resentment that even my friends were beginning to show towards me for being different, they behaved as if I was as acting as though I was somehow better than them. Perhaps, they sensed that I found their bubble world values to be increasingly Victorian and out of sync in a global world that was learning to give women their due. To them I must have appeared judgmental though I kept my views to myself or so I thought. The teacher’s words rang so true and I could not come to terms with them. I was very young then trying hard to fit in and at the same time not lose the individuality so precious to me.

I realise now that this was an in-between state, neither here nor there. The world is very cruel to someone who is in between. And when you are in between, you will hide in closets, look for safe havens, harbours, you will be wont to curl up in corners. You can never explain to your loved ones or friends how you feel because you come up against their varied walls of resentment and these will kill all but the most contrived sitting-room interactions cultivated in old-world societies. And so you exist in between, trying to please them at first, then giving up on pleasing them because, well, that never works. So you are not really living at all, neither true to yourself nor to the people around you, because you have learned to stay away from their silent resentments for your own peace of mind, which lies in the passive world of the dark closet in your head somewhere in between being.

For many years I yearned to be anywhere but here. But for so many of us, there is no choice but here. When there were no answers to be found, I looked over at my sunflowers and just for a moment I was saved by their yellow. The next minute I was back in my closet hiding from the world again and its strange ideas for being that I didn’t agree with. I know now that this is all I can do, find the simplest thing, in my case it was a warm yellow pouring out of miniature sunflowers, and in it find solace.

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