I’ve been watching. I’ve been watching for a long while now, so I remember. I remember the light in her eyes when she was a kid – when everything fascinated her and she asked questions whose explanations were things her young, underdeveloped brain would take years more to learn to understand. And even so, she would try hard to grasp these concepts; her frown of concentration was the cutest expression I had ever seen on a young kid. A mind this curious, searching and capable, I believed she could be a scientist.
God bless the day she finally learned to read! Her eyes never gave her brain breaks. She was absorbing information like a sponge from the minute her brain knew how to recognize a complete thought in printed form. Whenever she found out something new, she would run to her mother and explain with such vigour and enthusiasm that she was always tolerated, regardless of whether or not she was making much sense. Nobody really paid attention to that, because no one wanted to be the damper that killed the pretty light in her eyes.
I remember the initial effects of the system. I remember when she would come home tired, and the question “How was school?” would be asked more often than the more preferred “What did you learn today?” And perhaps if they had asked the right questions, they would have detected the problems before they escalated. Perhaps they would have realised that, for the sake of education, she was learning less.
At the beginning of high school, each subject was introduced with a syllabus guide. Each teacher had said some sort of variation of, “And as part of the student profile, each person is expected to develop an inquisitive mind.” She made the mistake of taking that literally. Whenever she wanted to know something, she asked about it; and more often than not, the response was “You don’t need to know that; it’s not in the syllabus.” Gradually, as the weight of the syllabus was imposed on her in increasingly heavy weights, the questions died in her throat and in her heart. As for any love she might have developed for the syllabus, it was prematurely slaughtered by its imposition.
She had never asked what the point was when no one had bidden her to learn what she had learned voluntarily. But the syllabus constantly made her question “Why?” She asked it aloud and silently, multiple times each day. The question was now the only one on her mind, constantly, where before, there used to be dozens each an hour.
Worry superseded curiosity. Negativity replaced positivity. The furrow between her eyebrows became a near permanent fixture, whereas before, the regularity had been the uplifting of her eyebrows whenever she experienced a wondrous “eureka” moment.
As I watch her now, nearing the end of the four-year journey through the four different stages of Hades, dolour seems to cover her. Her bright green aura of life has been shaded and manipulated so much that she looks as though she is surrounded by a thick, translucent sheet of dark grey. Negativity surrounds her as a result of all the responsibility she has been charged with all of a sudden. She is like an electron.
Though she functions, I cannot see the life in her, nor can I locate any sort of motivation. I don’t know where her hope lies, if she has any. I see her sober in solitude, and it is such a contrast to my memories of her – her engrossment in whichever activity she used to perform when she was alone. I wonder if she too remembers herself as she was then. I wonder if back then, she’d had goals she would have liked to have achieved by now; but if she did, I doubt she has achieved them.
Through watching her progression as a third-party observer for years, I realized how cruel life could be to the joy inside people. The beauty that comes with my memories weigh heavily on my heart, only because I wish I could see it all again now. She had so much potential then, and I wonder what kind of energy it was converted to before it was lost to the depressiveness of the environment.
Daily, I wish I could go to her and play my memories of her past to her present self, to remind her of all that she can be, with the proof being all that she has been. I wish I could wake her up from the dormant state of anhedonia and tell her that there is more to life than just this, and that the world doesn’t matter, and that systems don’t matter, and that she can conquer them without being a part of them. It breaks my heart to see her dolorous walk, but I dare not approach her; that would be an unwise decision, especially considering that she does not know me.
Despite the fact that I have watched her from birth, she does not know even so much as my name – and I doubt she has enough numbers in her head even to count my age. For all that I want to do to her, for her, I find that I am unfortunately limited, for my master gave me rules of engagement, and with certain things, I am not allowed to interfere. But I continue to watch, I continue to guard, I continue to keep the parts of her that I can safe, so that once that joyous spirit is revived – the one that has been with her always, and whose glimmer I still insist I see – it will fill her, and revert her to the glorious creature she is capable of being.
I have not yet given up hope, because I am certain that it takes more – much more – to kill the very nature of excellence woven into every pore and cell of one’s essence.