Ernest Dempsey — It’d been a year since I took a walk through this market area in the capital city. So, as I strolled past the shops and stalls in the crowded place, my mind regurgitated memories from its “mnemonic bank”. I didn’t have to remember my path from one wing of this marketplace to another—the grounds knew me and led me where I would go. Wait! I’m not implying some sort of subordination to these grounds here; not advertently at least.
Still, I felt something helplessly binding in this scene. And I mean besides the familiarity of structures: the Afghan bakeries, the food shops, and the old-style residential apartments above the more modern shops. It was about things… all kinds of these: clothes, jewelry, eatables, decorative items, accessories, electronics… you name it—placed securely in shelves, lying neatly in boxes along the footpath, hanging from hooks, and many of them peeking from heaps and piles.
This show of mass production appeared to my eyes a kind of hostage situation: things held by people—things bought as if slaves—put on sale with no emotional attachment characterizing humans. These things are slaves of people—voiceless and, as we generally understand, unconscious. Unlike the painful human slavery, however, these inanimate possessions enjoy an almost enviable wall of insensitivity. As always, the emotional baggage is left to people.
But here I had the contrary feeling of what had passed through me earlier. These people, both the sellers and buyers, couldn’t get their eyes off the things covering all the place. Those owning the objects stuck to them as honeybees do to their sweet treasure; and the visitors kept hovering over these things as if possessed by the colors, the look, the sheer presence of them. It was okay to spend their hard-earned, or just plain-easy money on these “needs”—these “objects of desire”.
I could feel that those in possession of these eye-charmers couldn’t leave sight of them; and the throngs strolling there would stay around as long as they could have the “pilgrim look”. The start and end of a day for these conscious beings—as we commonly know these “mortals”—are defined by the presence and disappearance of these dear inanimate charms. How very opposite we get to the general understanding of ownership here—who owns who and to what proportion?
My ramble is over. I get back to my room and look at my stuff—magazines, a note pad, cell phone, and those thing I can call mine only for the time being, like the furniture in the room. I start wondering whether I was free in this brief foray into things and people, and their mutual relation. Perhaps I’ve just found the point for another exciting venture!