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Elevators Are Time Machines

I have never liked how elevators ding you know. How the smallest, faintest sounds can jerk you back to realities often lost in the void of those constricted spaces. How eye contact with strangers is just as awkward as looking down to the floor. Oh, and how the brown stain on the elevator floor speaks to me like the face of a friend lost to time. So when the elevator dinged at level 2, I was but gently annoyed at one of the many slight inconveniences that life has to offer. But on that mundane morning of 6th March 2017, I fell in love. With obscure brown stains on elevator floors. With dings. With level 2. And the 2 seconds of awkward morning courtesies that came with it.

Ding. The doors to level 4 always seemed to open swiftly. Confidently, like the brush of a painter aged by his art. I wasn’t much for art anyway. But I have learnt this - the force that turns cynics into the deepest romanticists speaks in one language; motion. Vertical. Horizontal. Circular. Oh and linear. Why am I telling you this? Because there’s nothing like a closed box, suspended through long passages, working on the legendary laws of physics that makes you think about the morning news. On 6th March 2019, when the world was burning (like it usually does), I published my article on motions and time. And how movement is the only thing constant in the want of a stationary life. Sorry Sir Newton, but leave it to us writers to take your life’s work and ridicule it into meaning.

Much like it sounds, level 1 to me always felt like the start of a video game. When you have all your lives and aren’t afraid of losing them. Life gives us all a chance here at level 1. So, much like the start of this game, I stand here, inside this elevator, waiting on the chance life has given me here on 6th March 2016. Ding. Did I tell you how much I hate those dings? Like a child I am to it, woken up on a school morning by a devilish alarm. And the brown stain on the floor that I seemed to have just noticed. There’s something magnetic to it. It speaks in a lost language. Like generations worth of awkward glances married to the floor.

Level 6. Always reminds me of how my aunt would never get down on it. “It’s the devil’s pride”, she used to say. A number outcast by its ridiculous decorations. It’s a familiar feeling, to be an outcast. Nearly 8 billion people on the planet, nearly 8 billion outcasts. Pardon my brave generalization. But this generalization is the reason why here, on level 6, I am home. It has been 4 years since I fell in love with this elevator. And today on 6th March 2021, I haven’t yet fallen out. My morning courtesies are not as awkward anymore, be proud. Perhaps it was never about the courtesies, or their avoidance, which the floor takes the brunt of. It has been 5 years since I walked into this elevator. And through all these figurative ups and downs, home never felt so still.

- Pritika Chandra


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