A slice on the wall, that’s what I see. But when I look closely I see more, like it were a painting on the wall. Sometimes it isn’t a great painting but sometimes it is incredibly thought provoking. Like, the artwork I see right now is of a cluttered city of Bangalore where it is hard to get a glimpse of the beautiful, vast sky. The city’s many houses have trees & shrubs jutting out in between the roofs. As if, the trees and the concrete are at war to claim the space. Suddenly, I can see beneath the walls & trees; I can see the lives that they inhabit. The people – their past, their present and where their future is heading perhaps. They probably were born in countryside but being inspired by the pace of a city, they installed themselves here. They are probably all living the same lives, a bit differently. But somewhere I hope that their futures take them to new places.
I walked around to look out some other windows, sadly all the 5 windows show me the same image. Just the colors vary. But guess what? I have just written about an entire city and its inhabitants just through a window.
A window might seem like a symbol of confinement, the proof of a wall and something that inhibits our freedom. But like what I saw here, it lets us see more, see better and see beyond. When I am out walking on the street, there is so much to see, hear and experience. But what do I look at? Everything? Something special? Or do I just keep walking? Maybe I look at everything and yet not be able to describe anything. And that’s one of the saddest things about our so-called enriching lives. We live in such an overwhelming abundance of opportunities, that we don’t know which one to seek.
That reminds me of movies like Shawshank Redemption and stories of people who lived in the prison for years. They are all rich in observation, experience and perspectives. Do we know why? It’s the lack of the same abundance and the sense of freedom that those outside enjoy. These people just have the four walls around them and if there is one thing that almost all the protagonists have in common, it’s a window. Mostly it is the window in the cellar but sometimes it’s the absence of a built-window for people in complete confinement that opens up another window in their soul.
This window lets the prisoners discover an ability to retrospect, contemplate and look at themselves in a focused way. This soul-window is a necessary discovery for almost all of us. However, very few of us have the gift of identifying it without an external driver. Which is what people living in prisons have; a confinement that forces them to open their soul-windows. In this context, the window becomes a tool with which people can focus on one thing and develop a perspective.
From a painting to a binocular into Bangalore’s life; from the only ventilator to a mirror to the prisoner’s soul; from inhibiting the view to providing a perspective, a window is a magical and necessary cut-out in all our lives.