The Colours We Live

The Colours We Live

She opened her eyes for the very first time. White was all she saw, surrounding her, filling her world from ceiling to floor. It was the purest white she saw, the most innocent and unpretentious white she would ever know. She didn’t know where she was and what all these meant. This blank canvas, she didn't know what to do with, what it held for her or who she was in it.

Her first waking moments were white. The day was white, the night was white. The faces she saw were white. She was bathed aglow in shocking white. Yet, slowly, this white that was all around her, on her, started to tinge with colour. Around the edges, red, blue, green and black started to creep in towards her. From the high corners of the ceiling, they slowly stretched inwards to where she stood. She spun around feverishly many times, wide-eyed with wonder and fear. “What are these colours? Why are they appearing? What do they mean?” Her little mind burned with more and more questions. With every step she took, with every person she met, new colours appeared. Even the people were coloured. All around her, first bright monochromes, then confusing mixed squashes of every colour imaginable: blue and green and yellow and red, and ugly tones of brown and black and grey.

With every passing moment, her world once stark white started to dye in hues, pigments spotting her once flawless skin. Over some time she finally figured. If she meets a Mister Indigo-Orange for instance, her surroundings and body reacts by giving birth to those same hues, indigo and orange. If she meets a Miss Grey, her being and surroundings reacts in kind with bursts of evening grey. 

She had all these thoughts -coloured thoughts- for which she could not find satisfactory answers to. Why do pigments keep forming? Who are these people, and why are they coloured? They jostled for space in the recesses of her mind, shouting red, blue, green, black incessantly. Her mind was filled with so much noise and colour, it made her head ache. Long gone were white faces, now there were only red, black, blue faces, faces of a multitude of colours, teeming around her. Her mind swirled like slush. She approached a red figure whose back was turned to her, and asked: “Why are you red?” The person spun around, and scorned: “Why are you so stupid?” His words lashed at her and burned her cheeks. That day, she learned that she was stupid and that she should have known better. Her body quivered in red, and it was a red that tainted her permanently. That night, the air was red. Her dreams were red. And her tears were red. 

The next day, it rained. It wasn’t just a short drizzle, it poured. The red from yesternight started to mix with blue. The raindrops were blue, her mother’s smile was grey, her father’s hand’s were blue. While chewing a berry, she asked her dad: “Daddy, why are your hands blue?” Her dad looked down at her and smiled faintly: “Work is tough, angel. It’s not easy to earn money.” She saw the blue in his eyes, the blue in his toes. Her pulse flickered a tentative blue. She faced her mum and asked: “Mummy, why are your lips grey?” Her mum bent down towards her, locking her eyes with hers. She responded with embarrassment: “I forgot to put on my makeup today, darling.” That day, her little footsteps were grey.

She walked on, peering down at her grey footprints, rubbing her blue ears, not paying attention to where she was going. “Sweetie, you almost bumped into me. I can’t afford to fall down again.” An elderly lady startled her, shaking her out of her reverie. This lady was pink, in pink overalls, pink hands, pink legs, spotted only with bits of grey. Never before has she seen someone so monochromic, so undeniably and wholesomely pink. Not someone at such an age anyway. Grandma Pink reached out for her hands, enveloping those in hers. Her eyes were on the little girl before her, who was shifting from foot to foot, obviously uncomfortable and troubled. “Where are you headed to, sweetie pie? Can I help you with anything?” At Grandma pink's voice she tentatively glanced up at Grandma Pink, her hands starting to sweat between Grandma Pink’s palms. If Grandma Pink noticed her discomfort, Grandma Pink didn’t respond to it. Instead, Grandma Pink gently guided her to a nearby bench, sat her down, and faced her, still holding on to her hands. 

"The colours can change over time," Grandma Pink said. 

She stared blankly, not quite knowing if she heard Grandma Pink clearly. "How did she know what I was thinking about?"she wondered. Her brows furrowed, she looked down at her own blemished skin, ugly and contorted with colour. Red from anger, grey from shame. blue from resignation, black from pain. A wave of sorrow, frustration and defeat welled up inside her, choking her. She rubbed her skin furiously, over and over, willing the colours to all go away. Willing white to reappear. 

"The colours can change over time, sweetie," repeated Grandma Pink. "But only after we accept that they are there and now a part of us. We're born to be coloured, all of us. There's no escaping the colours that fill our hearts and lungs and fresco our skin. Some people think only certain colours are 'desirable'. Throughout their lives they chase an ideal, not realising that in the process, new, unwanted shades have pooled in their hearts and minds. They don't see that through it all, they bring themselves further from where they wanted to be.

"Every tint teaches us something new, be it good or bad. Our entire make-up is coloured. The air we exhale is coloured. The words we speak are coloured. These hues may lash at us and give us pain, yet they too deliver joy and much to gain. Life, I dare say, is nothing much without colour. Don't you agree, sweetie?" 

She listened to Grandma Pink blankly, digesting whatever Grandma Pink had told her while being fully conscious of her own coloured existence. Confusion was green, and it hung over her like a cloud. "I need to accept my colours?", she thought. "How do I do that?"

Again, Grandma Pink seemed to know what she was thinking and chirped: "Study your reactions and responses to whatever happens, sweetie. To the things others say or do, and to what you say, do, think and feel. Every moment in its hues teaches us who we are and what we value. That value, sweetie, is an indelible Gold, the greatest gift of all." 

She vaguely understood what Grandma Pink said. She nodded at Grandma Pink and quickly resumed examining her hands. At first she didn't feel it, but then a small bubble of calmness welled up within her. This pink enveloped her insides and bathed her with warmth. She was so busy staring at her fingers, she didn't notice her hair turned baby pink and that the pink sky before her flashed brightly.

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