Disconnecting: Finding Faces on the Walls

Today, I saw the wall. One would think that a homebody like me would be surrounded by walls most of the time. But, I must insist on proclaiming that today, I finally saw it again.

Was it a magical wall, like an entrance to Platform 9 3/4? No.

It’s the same as every other wall. At least, how most walls are: white, smooth, wide, a few meters tall–boring. But the 8 year old me would have relished in observing a plain white boring wall. In fact, chuck in the more life sucking blandness of a ceiling into the mix. And if you want something more interesting, stare at the tiles in the toilets. Maybe that’s why I’m such a homebody because walls fascinated me growing up.

Now, 26 years of age, and although still surrounded by walls, it’s almost as if walls have vanished from my eyes. It’s not that I could see through walls–although that would have been really cool–I just learned to ignore their presence.

But today, the wall was staring at me right in the face.

I was trying to relax my 4 month old niece on my lap, when she fell asleep. Pinned to the bed, I was forced to hold my position. Just like that, the walls stared back at me. It felt like I was being transported back to my childhood. To the days before social media and Netflix. When the whole household could fall silent for hours at a time save only the comforting buzz noise from the air-conditioning or electric fan.

As a kid I didn’t like naps, so when my family gets lulled to sleep in a middle of a hot day on a weekend, I would be the only one wide awake. And because I felt that adults were such light sleepers, I often stayed in my bed looking up at ceiling or noticing the wall beside me. My eyes used to go from the bottom of a crack on the wall to the end of the crack. Pockets of water behind the wall paint that had slowly grown over time creeped me out but I was still mesmerized observing every inch of it. Not to mention the scratches and gash marks on the wall that will remind you of the time a furniture used to be in place.

This was a time before smartphones filled in the gaps during the day. I can still remember the stillness of our home when we all took afternoon naps. It was peaceful, yet a little sad. I remember looking at the clock and anxiously awaiting for someone, anybody, to wake up so I wouldn’t feel alone. And so the walls became a source of comfort for me. One can make out faces and shapes on the wall, if you try hard enough.

Many look up at the sky to imagine, but I had the walls to activate my imagination during the most quiet times of the day.

For a very long time I hadn’t looked for faces in the walls. And today, I saw them again. After observing the walls I look down on my niece still fast asleep, wondering who she will be when she grows up. Will she find faces in weird places too? Can she escape the digital noise that has stolen our quiet moments?

I wondered and I wondered, till my mind traveled back in time when I had all the time to wonder on my own. My resolve became clearer. I needed my peace of mind once again when it could be empty on most days but hardly ever dull. Instead of today, when my head is always spinning from things I’ve read online and yet my mind feels stagnant.

I need to find the walls and trace the faces on it once again. #

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