Monday, May 23, 2016

Playing around with thinking about disengaging

We took a mutual friend to the cinema last night. It was more than just going to the movies. It was her second to last night in Batticaloa and since she'd never been to see a Tamil film in all her months here (!) this is what she'd asked to do. 

You guys came up on your motorbikes looking pretty happy, waving. Excitement. In general you look like a pretty normal person, the half dozen times I've met you. You have affect and you talk and exchange. You care about our friend I know from what she has told me. You have a lot of interesting things to say. You're engaged. So I was surprised during the movie that the whole time you were on your cell phone. You almost never looked up at the screen, something I admit I have to do to see the subtitles. Only down at the screen of your device. 

I wanted to ask you a foolish question. Could you understand every word of the movie, even though it was in Indian Tamil? I know there are differences. But it was too loud to engage. Then I got to thinking. Are you disengaged because you're one of those young people here who can't stand the loud noise of these violent movies because you were traumatized by noise in the war? Vidushun, a little younger than you, told me he can't go to movies because of the noise. I filled in the blanks with the "war" part but maybe I was reading too much into it. 

What about you last night? I've never seen you act so perfunctorily. Is it that your duty to our friend is over so you're just going through the motions at this point? Hard to believe. I know you're fond of her. Is it that you feel a loss with her going? Is it that you don't like to watch violence because you did see so much violence, your scars, your father hacked to death? Do you not appreciate the fantasy of these movies? The silliness of these movies? Were you just busy on your phone with other things?

At intermission our friend complained loudly, the way she always does, about how hot it was and proclaimed she didn't understand a thing that was going on in the movie. I told you I thought she was ready to leave. No way you said. It was like you wanted to stay. You assumed she did because after these months I suspect you know her nature very well. She is like a child anyway. And we did stay. And you kept looking at Facebook and other stuff on your phone. Maybe you were just multitasking. Maybe you're one of those people who like the noise and mayhem in the background so you can retreat into your world and think. Get some thinking done. Disengage and get some thinking done. Space out. We all like that. 

This was a small, very small thing. How someone acts in the movies? What's the difference? It's not even my job to figure people out here. Never was. Now less even because I'm leaving, just like our friend, three weeks from now. Maybe I felt your disengagement because I'm coming detached, disengaged from this. Just saying. Because it's not in my nature to detach, just playing around with the idea. 

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