Certainly, during our lives, we experience moments through which, on the brink of their end, there is a glimpse of consciousness, that breaks with our extreme emotion, and wishes for remembrance. It is in these moments that I imagine myself opening a jar and frantically stuffing in, the most vivid and accurate form of that utmost happening. I could choose to sometimes open it and relive what made me so ecstatic. But would I ever uncap the jar? Would I commit myself to be nostalgically happy or deeply conflicted with my past values or simply be remorseful?
My Home at the Intersection captures this idea conceptually as well as literally, bringing forward a piece of each of us through the particular experience of Abhishek Thapar. In the very beginning of the performance, we are introduced to the idea of the jar. In the jar are pickled lemons once put in by Abhishek’s grandfather. The jar contains tastes and colours and fragments of his childhood; in the jar rests a piece of reality that the present could only deliver through words. Would you taste all of these if you could? Would you sink in the memories that others have without fearing a lack of compassion or personal misrepresentation? Most of the audience takes a leap of faith and smell the years-old sour lemons and consent to further live their underlying story.
“The performance reaches an intimate level of engagement, breaking the boundaries usually set between the public and the artist”
The narrative itself is shaped as a universal personal recollection, but the means used to this end are what makes the performance a replete sensorial encounter. For getting the audience acquainted with his childhood, the entire setting seems to be designed in the best way that could facilitate that to happen. We are sitting on pillows, with our bare feet in wheat grains, facing a screen on which videos and pictures create a visual representation of the novel being told. The performance reaches an intimate level of engagement, breaking the boundaries usually set between the public and the artist. There were wars and games and joy and tears. There was unity and family and fear. It contains all that a life with upheavals and downturns also contains.
At the end of the play, there was a particular gesture that reminded me of my imaginary jar and gave me a sense of the public’s feel: a woman opened the fist of the man sitting next to her, poured in some of the grains on the floor and closed it back. I gave voice to her act in my head: “we should hold on to what we have seen” (now and at other times).
Choose your battles