The Statue Man

Sister and I pose in front of The Statue Man

“He doesn’t blink. He doesn’t smile. He doesn’t move. He is as stationary as a statue,” observed Father, when I asked him about the ‘statue man’. We were at VGP Golden Beach, Chennai’s first amusement park. I was 7.

The Statue Man stood on a dais all day long. With his bloodshot eyes, handlebar mustache, expressionless face, and loud clothes, he looked like a warrior to me. But for a lot of mischievous boys, The Statue Man was a clown. They would be rewarded if they bring an emotion to his face. He was bullied, insulted. They called him names. However, The Statue Man stood there as though he was blind and deaf. He stood there as though only his body was there and his mind had travelled miles away from him.

Father explained more about The Statue Man and how nobody could break his determination. He threw another quick glance at him before moving to the next exhibit. But Sister and I took a minute more. We looked at the boys who basked in hurling insults at him. We looked at The Statue Man who seemed impervious to all the hatred. While we were too young to meditate on the The Statue Man’s predicament, everything about that moment seemed wrong.

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20140102_165232-1I carry myriad memories from that day. I remember riding a boat. I saw Sister riding a giant wheel and thought she was the bravest. I saw Father buying the Maharaja Dosa for us and reckoned he was the kindest. I saw Mother motivating me to go on more rides and becoming a wee bit crestfallen when I succumbed to my irrational fears. I lost my tooth while hogging the Maharaja Dosa and sulked at my inability to give a decent burial to my dear tooth. I remember bright smiles. Boisterous laughter. Terror married with excitement. And a dusk that seemed the longest.

22 years after that day, I remember The Statue Man. I wonder if his slumber was filled with nightmares. Did the boys laugh at him in his dreams? Did they throw stones at him? Did his knees wail in pain? Did he curse his employer? Or did he smile in his dreams? At least, in his dreams?

“Childhood memories are sometimes covered and obscured beneath the things that come later, like childhood toys forgotten at the bottom of a crammed adult closet, but they are never lost for good.”

— The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman


12 thoughts on “The Statue Man

  1. Your memories are so dear. I liked Gaiman’s quote which you used in your blog.

    As a child we are often more sensitive to things around us, to things we see for the first time. The Statue Man is such a beautiful example of that. Adults would just see that, and know it for what it was, perhaps having pondered on it in years past; yet you, as a child could see how he elicited such unkind treatment from others…a man who really had no reason for their cruelty. You were still forming your thoughts and opinions about the world. (I remember visiting my Nana on the east coast when I was five. We passed through a street fair on the way to a shop that my Nana wanted to visit. There was a Punch and Judy show in mid-performance and out hosts stopped, thinking that this would be a treat for me. I was horrified at the loud voices, and the hitting with big sticks that went on between Punch and Judy. I knew that I should not ask to leave, but remember feeling very relieved when we finally departed,)

    Such a lovely day to reflect upon! A family outing, with bravery demonstrated by your sister, dosa to eat, and a lost tooth for you.

    “And the dusk that seemed the longest.” So evocative as normally for small children dusk is equated to the bedtime routine. When that changes it is a delight to stay up and be out during that magical time of light fading to dark.

    You inspired me to write down some of my childhood memories. When I tell my kids those stories it is eye-rolling time as they have heard the stories again and again. But perhaps someday they will be interesting to my grandchildren!

    Liked by 2 people

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