Music’s blaring in the background indistinctly just like it does in the movies after the hero has been knocked down. Timbaland’s old cool songs I reckon, the ones that makes you want to jam and bust a move.
I’m in the center of the space where 5th year students hold their annual ceremonial ritual of beginner dancing, amateur yet impressive vocal cords abilities, and band-rocking the stage.
A few people are behind me in a V formation. I’m wearing baggy clothes: over-sized banana-republic sweat pants, Adidas’ tank top, and nikes. Have you spotted the irony yet?
Hold up… Am I a lead dancer? Wow… I’ve been day-dreaming about this since middle school when I looked like a walking bowling ball. I used to listen to RnB, rap, and pop music on a daily basis. Akon, Eminem, 50 cent, Kardinall Official, Usher, Keri Hilson, Ne-Yo, Justin Bieber, – Shame on me, I know – etc.
I’d walk around with headphones on, creating choreographies in my head. If there was a magical machine capable of replicating the synaptic signals hay-wiring the images into my brain and transmitting them onto a screen, I’d be a rich and a famous choreographer. I swear to God!
But it doesn’t work like that, does it? Sad. I just kept to my day-dreaming activities.
But wait, I’m not day-dreaming right now. What the heck is going on? I look left to right and see the crowd’s cheering and applauding. I look up and I see me and the crew on a huge screen. This is one hell of a show!
- « Focus mate. Are you dead? Are you asleep? Try to punch yourself in the crotch and see if it wakes you up. »
- « What? No? Wait. Who said that? HEY WHO SAID THAT? »
- « I’m you, moron. My twisted humor hasn’t revealed that much to your slow brain? »
- « What.the.hell? »
I cannot believe my eyes…
As my eyes lift from the ground up, they pick up brown dress shoes, navy blue slacks, a pink-ish dress shirt, a red bowtie, and my… face?
I’m in utter disbelief. There’s an over-dressed replica of ME in front of ME. He has the same wavy black hair, the same narrow eyes, the same beak-like nose, and the same small hands. He has my nice butt too! I must’ve been smoking a joint and I’m experiencing the after effects.
- « Shut up and focus moron. You’re obviously not dead otherwise you wouldn’t be able to talk to me because… HELLO I’M IN YOUR BRAIN! »
- « Why are you talking to me? »
- « For God’s sake, is this really how I sound in real life? What are you? A one-digit IQ toddler? I’m here trying to help you make sense of what you’re experiencing. DUH! »
- « Alright, alright, enough with the insults. I’ve enough insecurities already. And hold up, why am I submitting to you? »
- « MORON FOCUS! »
- « Fine. But this isn’t over half-wit. »
- « There’s that spark. Atta boy! Now, onto the main issue. We have eliminated the theory of your death. That leaves us with three other options: you’re either asleep, unconscious, or in a prolonged coma. »
- « Okay, sounds legit. But why is my brain displaying this particular scene? Isn’t it unable to project pictures of things that it hadn’t seen yet? »
- « True. But It has already registered all these pictures in your mind and combined them together in this particular scene. Look closely, you’ll figure out what I’m saying. Wait, let me pause right here. Get closer. Alright, look at Safraoui’s face and clothes. Haven’t you seen her make the same face and wear the same clothes before? Now look at Youssef, haven’t you seen him wear the same clothes and stand in that Cristiano-Ronaldo-like pose? Are you following my trail of thoughts? »
- « Right, right. But hey, I don’t own those sweat pants, nor that tank top. How do you explain that? »
- « I’m rolling my eyes so hard I think I’ve seen my retina. YOU’VE SEEN THEM WHILE WINDOWN SHOPPING ONLINE MORON. »
- « Calm down man. Jeez. »
- « I’m you, man. How dare you question yourself? »
- « Touché. Sorry. Alright, so, what is this? What’s my brain trying to do? »
- « He’s trying to walk you down through memory lane. He’s testing you dude. Can’t you see it? You’re trapped. Ugh… You’re unbelievably clueless. Let me bring it down to you: You’re in a prolonged coma and if you’d like to wake up again or EVER, you’ve to pass your brain’s test. I’ve said enough already. From now on, you’ll get nothing out of me but riddles and hints because, DUH, you’ve got to figure it out on your own. »
- « My brain is such a… Penis! Fine. I’m ready for whatever that prick throws at me. »
- « Yeah right, whatever. Follow me »
In a blink of an eye, it became pitch black. A surge of adrenaline rushes through my entire body. This is no time for a fight or flight response. I’m afraid of the dark. I have been since I was a child and I couldn’t get over it. I try to calm myself down. Maybe this is one of my brain’s tests. Maybe, he’s trying to get me over my fear of the dark. That would make him a good guy with unusual ways and extreme conditions. I could stay in a prolonged coma stasis for the rest of my life. Who am I kidding? The doctors would just give up and pull the plug, a literal one, on me.
I steady my breath, by remember some Yoga tricks to balance myself. I close my eyes for a second and when I open them… I’m in a street fight?
Someone’s throwing a punch at me and I duck on instinct. Phew… That Body Combat training had finally come in handy. I’ve seen this place before. I know this guy. I’ve been wanting to bash his face for hitting on my girlfriend for ages. Sounds like I’m starring in my own martial arts movie, directed by my sadistic brain. Alright, brain, what do you want me to do so I could pass your test?
If I hit back, that might mean that I’m an aggressive person with anger issues who sees violence as a viable option to solving problems. Well, yeah I think violence is a viable option for solving problems, SOMETIMES. I’m not an aggressive person though. He swung at me first so, if I swing back that would be considered self-defense. I like my lawyer-like reasoning. I lean back as a semi-circular hook grazes my nose and I instantly grab his extended hand, turn on my heels and judo-slam him on the cement floor. The sound of his back pummeling the ground sends goosebumps down my spine. Maybe I could’ve countered in a less devastating way?
Who cares? The dude’s a projection.
And there he is. That snob, smug-faced me shaking his head in disapproval like black women do in the movies.
- “What now?”
- “You’re supposed to care even if he’s just a projection. You failed this test. However, your brain is a charitable organ so, he’s giving you another chance to rectify your misdemeanor. But be careful, I don’t know how much generosity our brain is capable of. “
And poof, he is gone again. Great! Thanks for the heads up, prick.
It’s pitch black again. Déjà vu. I close my eyes and steady my breathing like I did the first time and slowly open my eyes to find myself on stage, an electric guitar in hand and a microphone right in front of me. Another crowd’s cheering. I know this stage. It’s in my university’s hall. Am I in Cine-radio’s jam session. COOL! I tried to get a spot on the roster but I couldn’t find band mates before. I squint trying to figure out their face. Holly Molly… They’re faceless. I look behind. Even my band mates are faceless. This is creepy. What am I supposed to do? What’s the test here?
This feels familiar somehow. I’ve always wanted to be in a band. Well, I was in a band before and yes I was the band’s vocalist but I’ve never played an instrument, let alone an electric guitar. I remember that I’ve always wanted to be the center of attention, on stage, heart-shaped eyes fixated on my flawless performance. I’ve always day-dreamed about earning the appreciation of my entourage, the compliments of others, and the spotlight. I can’t count how many times my reverie led me to envisage myself in cool, rock clothes playing magnificent solos of Motorhead or DGM and having a compelling voice. Right now, I might be an okay dancer but my voice still sucks.
So, what am I supposed to do? what’s the test?
- « This is just a bonus scene from your brain. Kind of like in video games. »
- « Right, I forgot that I’m a prick and you’re a prick. Ergo, my brain HAS TO BE a prick. »
- « Compliments won’t get you out of the test buddy. Keep on bellyaching. »
He makes a good point. I should orient my complaining into figuring out what my brain’s trying to make me do, ask of me or tell me.
Fast forward the pitch blackness and bla bla bla.
I’m back at my university again yet I’m outside the hall, where I-events held their sports event last year. I’ll be damned, it’s the same setup. Tables gathered together forming some sort of a stage and I’m on top of them. Does that mean I’m the instructor?
About time! This is actually one of my biggest dreams. I’ve worked so hard for this moment as small as it may seem to others. Whereas, it’s Mount-Everest big for me.
- « Cool it buddy, it’s yet another projection of your subconscious mind. Apparently your subconscious is fighting the conscious bits of your brain that are hosting your test. »
- « Couldn’t you let me rejoice in my delusional glory moment for a little longer? Jeez, you’re such a party pooper! »
- « There’s no point in rejoicing in fantasy. Wallow in real-life success and not in a pompous illusion. »
- « Whatever man! I don’t often feel successful and you’re trying to rob this moment from me? Why are you even here? It’s not like you’re helping me with clues or hints or whatever. Just leave me alone. »
- « You are blind. If you really want to wake up again, you’d better get it together. I’m out. »
To hell with him. All that he’d done so far is patronize me and condescend to me as if I was a child. He’s me for God’s sake. How can I feel superior to myself? My head aches just thinking about it.
It’s not like I’m reaching milestones on a daily basis. I’ve got multiple objectives, different goals and dreams. They take time to achieve. I’m making progress but it’s slow as a snail. Maybe it’s because I’m working on all of them at the same time. Maybe if I focus on one or two I’ll be able to grasp success sooner.
If I direct my full attention at one or two objectives, I’ll lose sight of the others. I’ve got to keep the same strategy because, as laggard as my advancement is, the minuscule stride exists.
Alright now, on to the next phase. Darkness, eyes closed, the whole shebang, whatever.
Books are surrounding me from all corners and angles. The biblichor is refreshing. I deeply inhale the bracing aroma bathing the closed area with a delectable fragrant.
I close my eyes on instinct drawing in as much of the redolent odor as my nostrils and both my lungs possibly could. For a split second, I am loosened and unbent. For a split second, my perilous quandary escapes me. For a split second, I am at peace. As my cilium flutters open, I am met with a teenager handing me over his book. The boy asks me to sign it for « So hot for Stefan ». Bafflement invades my facial expression as my brows furrows and my forehead wrinkles. Why’s this kid asking me to sign his book?
For a moment, I wait for my annoying voice to answer me back in that smug and pestiferous tone. To my surprise, I hear no one except someone’s concerned voice.
I know that voice…
I look to my right and add to my earlier surprise, my girlfriend is sitting next to me asking me if I was okay and if I would hurry up and rubricate the fan’s copy so the line would move along.
I’m a published author! HOLLY MOLLY!
I did it. I finally did it. My novel is released. Felicity is coursing through me like race cars seconds before the finish line. Is this how it feels to be accomplished? An endless reservoir of dopamine inundating my receptors?
This is… Formidable.
I’m ebullient to a point where I rise up, kiss the teenager on the cheek and thank him for being a fan then sign his book. My girlfriend’s looking at me funny. The sort of look that says What has gotten into you?
I don’t mind. I’m exuberant. Ney, I’m on top of the world!
Alas, my joy doesn’t last that long. Guess who’s at the corner, arms-crossed with a resting-bitch face on?
Suddenly, I’m not at ease anymore. I excuse myself from the crowd and head over towards him. Everything lays still just like it happened during my first part of this… I don’t even know what to call it. A dream? A fantasy? A flashback? It doesn’t matter.
- “I figured that I wouldn’t have to see your arsey face again since you didn’t show up at my last test.”
- “I’m not happy to be here either.”
- “What? No insults? No witty comebacks?”
- “No. Because apparently, you and I no longer have the time for that. Your brain has decided to pull the plug on you should you mess up ONE.MORE.TIME.” He said as he dabbed my shoulder with his index.
- “Why should I believe you? And what makes you so sure? And if you are me, how come you know more than I do?”
- “Because there are 3 of us and we’re governed by our brain. There’s you, me and the other. A nasty wanker the other You wouldn’t want to trust him. He’s not friend of ours. All that satiates his thirst for anarchy, is chaos. Look man, if you keep on resisting, WE WILL CEASE TO EXIST. Do I look like I’m playing games right now? Does not my change of approach with you give you any indication of the staidness of our mutual predicament? Wake up man! Get over yourself.” He chuckled after his last line. “That is actually ironic. I’m telling you to get over yourself. You know what? I’m done. For real this time. You’ll no longer see me. Good luck.”
He disappeared. Just like that.
A sharp sigh escapes my chest as I run my hands through my hair in deep aggravation. I ponder upon his allegations and the possible repercussions of this dire situation. A part of me, scratch that because – HELLO – I’m already fragmented into three parts in this nonsensical farce, I’m refusing to believe that this is a test and that I’m going to die if I don’t pass. I mean, it’s MY brain. How could MY brain want to kill me if I want to keep on living? That is most confusing!
On the not-so-bright side, I’ve got one last shot at preserving my life and I’d better not screw it up. I proceed to closing my eyes but I stop as two of his words echoed in my head: the other.
If there’s three of us, why hasn’t this other showed up yet? A feeling of unsettlement submerged my mental state. Going through the usual procedure, I open my eyes expecting a new specious scene. Instead of the usual setting, I am sitting comfortably in a home theater deluxe chair facing a huge screen that was split in two.
On one of the halves, my aforementioned tableaux are playing on repeat while on the other half, there was a short film of how I became a doctor working under the service of the organization ‘doctors without borders’.
I never wanted to work for doctors without borders. The thought never crossed my mind. Then why was there a recorded tape of my service as a volunteer doctor?
I keep asking questions one after the other because I am riled of being in the dark. I am fried. My cognitive abilities are on the edge of short-circuiting.
Suddenly, snatching me out of my gloomy thoughts, my ears pick up a scratching sound followed by a crunching sound. It is as if someone was eating chips. I looked behind me and there he was with a bag of Doritos on his lap, stuffing his face with a palm-full of the unhealthy snack.
- “I thought you quit on me?”
He ignores me and keeps on munching like a famished ship-wrecked sailor.
- “Rewarding our bickering with the silent treatment? It does sound like something that I’d do.”
He picks up a can of soda from under his seat, cracks it open, and takes a huge gulp out of it.
- “Look man, if there’s any consolation, I didn’t mean to be a prick earlier. I understand the gravity of our situation and I’m willing to cooperate.”
There was something fishy about him. He isn’t wearing his elegant attire. He looks more like a biker. I spot Multiple tattoos on his uncovered arms and neck. A sleeveless black leather jacket with nothing underneath it, distressed and ripped-in-the-knees jeans, and black leather boots was his choice of apparel. He resembles a character from the movie Mad Max.
His stare suddenly shifts towards me spooking me a little. Then this maniacal grin covers his face as he’s rising up from his chair and coming down to finally take a seat beside me.
At a closer look, I noticed that he has Three Days Grace’s red X tattoo on the back of his neck, the one that I’ve always wanted since the band became my favorite ever.
Back in high school, that is exactly how I wanted to look like. A certified badass.
- “What do you reckon mate?” He says, leaning back care-free on the chair.
My mouth drops open.
- “Why do you have a British accent? And why are you dressed this way?
- “What are you blabbering about mate? I’ve always had the accent. Sexy ain’t it? And this is how I’ve been dressing since the beginnig of my existence.”
I get suspicious.
- “Right… It doesn’t matter. As I was saying, I’m willing to cooperate. You guide me through this and I’ll do precisely as you say. I’m really not a fan of dying. There’s just so much I still want and need to do with my life.”
He shoves another palm full of chips in his mouth, wipes his hands on his pants, and from under the chair, he produces a bottle of Whiskey.
I am completely struck. Our existence is in danger of perishableness and the dude is about to get drunk. I understand how this particular matter could be stressful to a human being but come on!
He finally speaks.
- “By the way, mate, you haven’t answered my question yet.”
- “What do I reckon about what?”
- “The films playing right in front of you of course. What else would I be referring to, mate?
- “How should I know? I’ve never experienced any of what’s being displayed on the screen before. Look man, we don’t have much time left. Will you help me or not?”
- “Alright, mate. It’s bloody simple. That is your future. You have to choose one of the two outcomes. On your right is your foreseeing future should you choose to pursue your own passions. You’d be able to have it all. The fame, the spotlight, the money, world-wide recognition, the girl, and complacency. Your life would turn out perfectly perfect! Whereas, on your left is your foreseeing future should you espouse your moms plans for you. As you can very well see and very well know, she has always wanted for you to become a doctor. You would honor her wishes and become one. After her death, you would join Doctors without borders, in her honor. There will be no money, no fame, and especially no girl. You would dedicate your life to helping those in need, you would die alone but you would still have gratitude.”
He gets up and stands in front of me, bends over at the waist so that his face is inches away from mine, and gives me his maniacal grin again.
- “What would it be, mate?”
This isn’t happening. I don’t want to become a doctor. The profession is exhausting and boring. Besides, my mom only wishes for me to become on because it would give her something to brag about to people. It has nothing to do with profession itself. It’s just social-status-related which is totally banal.
As a writer, fitness instructor, professional dancer, and a musician, I can inspire people and embed the idea that anyone can become whatever and whomever they’d set their minds on becoming no matter what. I can be the role model for millions of people around the world. I can be the motivation lots of people need to achieve their hopes and dreams. I can be the next Martin Luther King, the next Dali Lama, the next Gandhi.
My mom would and should be happy for me for achieving so much. She’d be thrilled that her son has made it through all the hardships that I have faced so far. Isn’t that what mothers do?
But what if…?
What if in choosing my own ambitions, I’d lose time that could be spent with my parents? What if I end up neglecting them in the pursuit of my dreams? What if my happiness causes their misery?
- “Hey could you tell me what happens to my relationship with my parents should I choose the future on the right?”
- “Sorry, mate. No can do. Brain’s orders.”
- “Come on, man. This is our life that’s on the line.”
- “If I try to help you more, I’d vanish. Literally, mate. Sorry. However, we could play the If I were you game.”
I pick up the hint instantly. I give myself credit for being cleverly intelligent.
- “That would be mighty helpful.”
- “Well, if I were you I’d go with fame, money, the girl, and the self-satisfaction. I mean, we deserve it, don’t we? We’ve had a rough up-bringing. We’ve struggled financially for as long as I can remember and we’ve been working so hard. It’s a shame to waste it all over our mother’s meaningless request. She wishes to see what she couldn’t achieve in us. That doesn’t sound fair, does it? Of course, it doesn’t. Besides, with the kind of money we’d be making, we could give both our parents the best care they could ever ask for. They’d live the rest of their lives comfortably taken-care of.”
- “When you put it that way, following my dreams seems like the right path to take. Thank you for the insight, man!”
- “The pleasure is mine, mate! All you need to do now, is pull out the tape of the future that you’d like to dispose of and that’s it.”
That’s a relief. I take a couple of deep breaths and head towards the VCR (for some reason, my brain’s going for a VCR instead of instead of a computer). As I’m cutting through the few steps separating me from the machine, my sixth sense starts tingling. Something smells fishy. And it hits me.
Abruptly, all the signs are put together and the puzzle is as clear as filtered piss. The tattoos, the clothes, the British accent, the careless behavior, all of it hits me at once. This is the other.
‘A nasty wanker the other is’
He warned me about him. He said that he’s no friend of ours, that I should take my guard against him. That means, that he wants me to die and that probably this is a scheme of his to get me to screw this test up and end up dead.
But what if the other me is the one trying to manipulate me?
OH.MY.GOD! I can’t deal with this kind of pressure. This is way too much for my nerves to handle. You know what? To hell with this.
I stand in front of the VCR and pull out the tape on the right. Just like that. I chose the way that would make my mom one hundred percent proud of me. I chose to dedicate my life in the service of others. I chose to cleanse myself from selfishness. I chose to commit to a cause higher than celebrity and money.
I chose to be a do-gooder.
It may not be my dream, but how many could they proudly confirm that they’ve chosen to dedicate the rest of their lives, fully, in the service of others?
I can and I bloody will. My parents have invested so much in me and it is time that I start paying them back. They deserve it. Lots of unfortunate people deserve the charitable work of doctors without borders and I get to be a part of a cause that is bigger than me.
I feel content and at peace.
I close my eyes, not to jump to the next scene but expecting my heart to stop pumping blood into my organs and for my life to cease.
I open my eyes to the sound of applause. The elegant me and the biker me are slow-clapping and smiling at me.
- “Well done, mate! You made it. You were able to beat the test.”
- “Honestly moron, I didn’t think that you had it in you. I’m surprised and amazed. But I am happy that we made it, that you pulled through at the end.
- “Alright now, mate. Do you see that door in the corner? That is your way out of your coma. Open it, go through it and you’ll wake up safe and sound.”
Before I get the chance to respond, they disappear. I do as I was instructed.
My eyelids flutter open, and I find myself surrounded by my family in a hospital room.
What I have learned from this surreal experience is that dreams aren’t based on material gains. It’s not about the money, the fame, the ladies or anything of the sort.
Dreams are about the cause, the desired outcome and purpose of one’s existence. Dreams are what makes life enthralling and meaningful. Dreams are the reasons for which we subsist and abstain from taking or wasting our lives.
Dreams are the progress that we, as a human race, have accomplished so far. The technological progress, the scientific evolution, the agricultural advancement, and so on.
I’m no preacher, but every dream should serve a broader purpose. Every dream should aim to make everyone else’s life easier and better. Every dream should be first and foremost selfless and answer to one simple call: the evolution of mankind.
And the wise Aerosmith band said once: « dream on! »
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Pourquoi I’mPress n’aura pas lieu à l’auditorium de l’INSAT
La troisième édition d’EKTEBLI s’est tenue à l’auditorium. Et INSAT Press vise à améliorer sa journée au fil des années. Donc avec un nouveau nom » I’mPress » et de nouveaux axes, ça nous étonne que l’événement ne prenne pas lieu à l’auditorium.
À la base, c’était l’idée : à tout grand événement, grand audito. Sauf qu’un imprévu qu’INSAT Press n’a pas vu venir s’est produit. Avant de vous expliquer ce qui s’est passé, nous vous expliquons la procédure de réservation de l’auditorium auprès de l’administration.
Tout d’abord, les présidents des clubs se réunissent pour s’accorder entre eux sur les dates des événements. Le but étant de ne pas proposer deux demandes provenant de deux différents événements à l’administration. Quelques fois, les clubs font des compromis les uns envers les autres, dans l’esprit de fraternité des clubs de l’INSAT. La réunion se termine avec un compromis qui ne laisse pas place aux conflits aux yeux de l’administration.
Et c’est ce qui s’est passé avec I’mPress; après un long conflit avec plusieurs clubs, un nouvel obstacle est survenu. Le président du club explique : » Au début des vacances, j’ai déposé la demande et je savais que Mr. Mustapha Hamdi avait un événement le jour-même. Je l’ai alors contacté et il m’a informé que tout va bien; l’auditorium est à nous! Sauf qu’Ahmed Belgacem m’a contacté. Il m’a dit qu’il a appris de la part du DVURE (Directeur de la Vie Universitaire et de la Relation avec l’Environnement) que le 17 avril est déjà réservé! «
Il s’agit de l’événement de 4C INSAT organisé par Mme Naouel Abdelmoula qui consiste en la projection du film tunisien » Dachra » commentée par son réalisateur.
Bien évidemment, le président d’INSAT Press a fait de son mieux pour négocier cette date auprès de Mme Abdelmoula qui insiste à la garder; elle a déjà contacté des invités et organisé une grande partie de l’événement.
Il s’agit donc d’un malentendu entre le club et l’administration. Celà dit, l’événement se déroulera au hall. Toutes les expositions se feront librement sur estrades. Venez pour l’ambiance, restez pour la remise des prix à la salle des conférence 2B6-2.
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