It feels cold. People keep coming and going, the little children tugging at their parents’ hands veering them to my direction. They seem so happy and lively. No taller than their parents’ hips, they stare through the glass barrier at me with wonder and awe. They stare at me with longing and wishful desire of the ability to have what they do not currently. I try and mirror their sentiments, but I am lifeless in this glass box. I am lifeless. Numb. Emotionless. I am surrounded by teddy bears and unicorns and bright smiling stars, plush toys stuffed until no more stuffing could be filled inside of them without them coming apart at their seams, and yet no one stopped with me; no one cared about my seams and the weak hand with which I was stitched together.
They dig their heels into the ground as they walk past, putting their noses against the glass. It feels so two dimensional and so unreal: the divide between the audience and the actors continues. They make their best face as they stare their parents in the eyes, their eyes larger than snow-globes, shining much the same way–in awe, in anticipation and in affection–hoping to get a couple of coins so they may gamble it away with the claw.
Oh how fascinating it must seem to them. The ability to control an external hand and use it to pick up whatever they want. Perhaps children do not understand the concept of monetary value, but they know that the worth of a quarter is far less than the worth of a teddy bear. They can hold one to sleep when they get scared of nightmares, they can carry it around with them when their friends bail on their plans, they can hug them tight when they feel alone, they can sit down with them and tell them stories of their day. But a quarter – what use is a quarter to them?
The first child convinces his mother. She bends down and hands him a quarter. He locates what he wants in the transparent box. He eyes it with such eagerness that one might feel the power of his attraction might allow the toy to melt through the glass and fall into his hands. He takes a deep breath and steadies himself. He puts the quarter into the machine. Everything around me rumbles. I hear loud music inside the cabin and I see bright red, yellow, green and blue lights flashing as they reflect off the child’s innocent hazel eyes.
The claw sets itself in motion. The child knows his bearings. He drives the claw to the corner farther from him, to his right, behind me to my left. And he presses the button like a judge banging his gavel on his desk. The claw creaks. It locks itself into position. And three. Two. One.
Down comes the claw with the child’s passion and fervor and wraps itself around a purple plush hippopotamus, that looks nothing like the one the child saw in the zoo last week. It has big black eyes, the size of a hen’s eggs and it has a smile across its face, that would make anyone’s bad day just a little bit better. The child’s cheeks blush with pride. He knows he’s done it. Now all that is left is for the claw to safely transport it to the child.
And the journey thus begins.
The claw retracts itself. To anyone who would not know how the machine works, they would feel the purple hippo is clutching on for dear life, smiling through his tribulations. The claw locks back into place and it begins to move towards the chute.
And it drops the hippo.
The child’s eyes begin to well up with tears, shining now in pure pain. The claw let it go too soon. It never made it to the chute. It was too loose and too feeble to be able to carry an entire stuffed toy all the way to the other corner of this two by two cabin. I see the child’s face turn from excitement and euphoria to bitter, solemn hurt. He hides his face in his mother’s coat and begins to cry, with no regard for where he is or what he is crying over. To him, it is justified. He put in a lot of effort to obtain a friend, and, for no fault of his own, he lost it. He couldn’t have it.
How feeble the claw of life is and how many of us keep looking up to the stars waiting to feel alive? How many of us with outstretched hands and un-silenced prayers wait for redemption and the ability to know that we are still living? How many of us wait, in this transparent cabin, with a child’s naivety and vitality almost in our reach, just on the other side of this self created and self imposed barrier that we can no longer get out of?
And if we can’t feel alive, we feel we must go down the chute. It seems to be the only way. But if we were to crawl down into that cavity, with just the self made promise of the child’s smile on the other side waiting for us with open arms, with no music blaring and no lights flashing, would we ever truly be able to make it or would we get stuck in a darker place where our surroundings were no longer transparent and the claw no longer visible?
Why then do we romanticize suicide?
Featured Image taken from http://i.ytimg.com/vi/y3kfLIsaIXE/maxresdefault.jpg.