this is a true story.
on my way to class a coupla days ago, i encountered a mad man.
i am not doing the whole metaphor thing, so no, you don’t have to try to crack your pretty little head to try to figure out that spectacular imagery i am trying to represent over here.
he was a young man. his hair was over grown and scruffy. his clothes were brown and soiled and dirty. you’d know that he’d been sleeping on the streets for some time. he wore no shoes. he was skinny to the bone and occasionally talked to himself.
i encountered him on a sidewalk at some very busy shophouses at a very busy part of town. the town is really not important. it can really be anywhere. if you’re really itching for an imagination jog, feel free to let yourself loose over here. i don’t care. the town is not important.
the mad man was crouched in the very middle of the sidewalk. i don’t want to say that he was squatting, because he was not. to squat would imply that he had his feet flat on the ground and his knees folded up to his chest. he didn’t. he was crouching. let’s see if i can describe it properly here: he was sitting knees (not shin) and toes on the ground, and butt on his heel. there is some dignity there. seriously.
he was facing a shop window. and he gazed into it with bright and shiny eyes.
it was a DVD rental shop. you know how these kinda shops always have a giant LCD panels playing all kinds of movies on it all day long? that evening, they showed one of those old sudirman concerts. merdeka edition. it was actually both cool and surprising at the same time. surprising because the memory of sudirman survived to the DVD era.
the shop had this enormous speakers and here it is blaring patriotic songs from decades ago. there was sudirman, dressed in blue, yellow, red and white, cheering on a screaming crowd. counting down to the next song. everyone singing along.
isn’t it ironic how the mad man gazes into the screen with genuine joy and happiness, while the rest of us pass through that very sidewalk, completely ignoring the decade old cheers of celebration ringing from the shop?
i pondered the mad man from afar. completely engrossed in his own universe. utterly entertained by the concert on screen. dare i assume that nothing in the whole wide world bothers him? there may be times when he gets confused. frustrated, maybe? disappointed even?
but for now, he is happily… well… watching tv. something we all derive joy from. aren’t we all happy when we watch a program or a channel that we like. of course, what we like to watch is really our own cup of tea and i’m not gonna say that concerts are a poor choice of entertainment or otherwise. whatever rocks your socks la kan.
but i want to point out this simple act of watching tv. this mad man is watching tv. and he’s happy. i don’t reckon there is a very long to-do list in this daily life so dare i assume that he could very well be sitting there, somewhere, anywhere really, and be watching tv all day long?
escapism. someone mentioned this to me once. to run away from reality and borrow the world portrayed on screen.
so what if you’ve already escaped reality a.k.a. the mad man? what would escapism mean to him? a departure from the confusion of reality forcing (in vain) its way through?
my class was slightly over an hour long. walking back to my car, i passed the same shop again. the mad man was still there, still in the crouched position. an english drama movie was showing. he stares at the screen smiling.