A surrealist story, set in a world simultaneously with and without gender. You’ll get the metaphor. Pronouns have been deliberately avoided in keeping with the spirit of irreverence.
Gypsy was a happy go-lucky kid. Childhood was a lot of fun because there was nothing to do but play all day long. The parents were busy with other things, or bringing up their two children. The sun was bright, the air fresh and a garden full of flowers. There was just no limit.
So Gypsy put the G.I.Joe’s and Barbies together, and took them on magical adventures to bring justice to imagined atrocities. The taller and gangly Barbies were the strong ones, who would run and bulldoze their way through enemy territory, while the G.I. Joes and Batman would use their ropes, lights and tricks to fool the villains. In the evening after school, Gypsy would run off to play with the kids downstairs. Hopscotch, lock-n-key, gully cricket and football would all be played with equal enthusiasm. At other times Gypsy would skip over the mats of rice drying on the pavement, and sing gaily.
At 11 years of age, hair started sprouting from Gypsy’s face. Things started changing on the kid’s body, and the soft-sweet voice was replaced suddenly by a deep baritone. And that’s when the fantasy world collapsed violently.
The punishment for these bodily changes, it seems, was to be shoved into a blue box. Everyone agreed. Mom and Dad, teachers and peers – they all started clamouring that this blue box was the best and most natural thing in the world. Gypsy didn’t have a choice. In went Gypsy into the blue box. There was no protest. Gypsy was too bewildered to even know that the box was closing up all around. The sun darkened, the air became restrictive, and Gypsy forgot what flowers smelled like.
Years went by. Gypsy got used to the blue box. It was quite comfortable if you thought about it. Easy even, once you mastered the behaviours. Gypsy was able to get angry over video-games, and swear loudly, and everyone thought it was natural. Gypsy would ejaculate on bed-sheets, and spout pimples all over, and everyone would just smile and gloat. If Gypsy talked to someone from a pink box, everyone would take note with excitement. It was always a performance, and Gypsy didn’t think about it. After all, half the people in Gypsy’s life were performing inside blue boxes.
Gypsy did notice though that some of the old friends were shoved into pink boxes. In stolen moments in college halls, in hushed tones on text-message, these friends told Gypsy about the pink box. There was far less wiggle room in that box it seemed. It was also actually like living inside a maze, they said. Yet there were pretty little things like trinkets, gorgeous clothes, jewellery and make-up. After hearing that, the blue box seemed quite ordinary in comparison; although it was pretty roomy.
Gypsy sometimes wondered what it was like to live inside the pink box…and play with those pretty things. At least it would distract from this monochrome life.
At 22, Gypsy came across a stick of lipstick accidentally lying around. Looking around to see no one was looking, Gypsy poked a little hole in the blue box with that lipstick. Gypsy then laughed and then forgot about the hole. Remember, Gypsy had forgotten that this was a box. Life continued the same way as it had for the last decade. The feeling of suffocation grew, and Gypsy had no idea why a feeling of being out-of-sorts persisted. The once care-free child went about performing in the box, and everyone clapped. But the smile was fake and the eyes, unlit.
Some years later, Gypsy saw something shocking through that old hole. It was a careless moment, and Gypsy was just walking by. The scene outside was quite far away, but the facts quite unmistakable.
There were fake houses, fake trees, fake animals and fake sky…and it was full of some outrageous-looking, cheerful people. They were doing something quite unthinkable to Gypsy. Gypsy couldn’t believe what had happened. Those people… they were all hopping in and out of boxes! Who would imagine? At times they would dive into a pink box, and throw all the lipsticks and jewellery in the air, squealing “Yaaas” as they did so. Then they would hop right into a blue box and drape themselves with flip-flops and bland T-shirts. Sometimes they would just roam around outside the boxes, unfazed. And no one was telling them off! In fact, crowds had gathered around and were hollering and cheering!
Having lived more than ten years in a blue box, Gypsy was quite offended. Dismissing them as batty, Gypsy went on with daily life. But the memory of that scene wouldn’t fade. And Gypsy spent two years going back to the little peephole, to take a look at that far- away magical world. Every time would be something new, bewildering, refreshing …and strangely…. enjoyable.
The peep-hole became a source of joy, in the drab blue world. Gypsy remembered those childhood days of box-less abandon. No one ever said “stay in your box!” back then. One could mix all the toys, play all the games.
So one day, while staring through the peep-hole, Gypsy decided that enough was enough. It was time to become like those far-away people. Care-free, happy … and fully realised. Free of boxes, a chance to live their best life.
Gyspy consulted with the friends. They agreed. They’d been equally unhappy. It was time for the boxes to go.
And so the revolution ensued. Slowly but surely, they all began chipping away at their boxes. Some used torn jeans, others grew long hair, …still others used eye-shadow. The sound of boxes being broken down from the inside filled the world.
Grabbing the cheapest stick of lipstick lying around, Gypsy removed the cap, turned the screw and set to work. The stick was slippery and ran easily. It made a royal mess of things, and was very hard to apply. Yet, on and on Gypsy used circular motions to prod and poke the peep-hole… sweating buckets. The hole grew steadily wider. Soon there was space for a hand to pop through, then an arm…then a leg.
Climbing out, Gypsy could feel the fresh air on the skin once again. The friends gathered around, holding hands and smiling. Flecks of red dotted Gypsy’s beard. Was it blood or lip-color? Guess it was one and the same thing…
The remnants of pink and blue boxes lay littered all around. The sun had returned to fill the sky, and a fresh new breeze hung over them. The flowers were fully abloom.
Life was good once again.