Mind the Gap

"Fikri," said my coordinator, Mr Seo, "why is there such a big difference?"

We're sitting down on the steps inside the viewing room at the film office. It's the High Definitions workshop, and people are busy buzzing about. All of us (me, Pele, Damon, Kirsten and Tascha) get to shoot with the HD camera and make something out of it. Right now, everyone is prepping for Kirsten's bit. I'm supposed to be doing the same, but I am not sure what I'm supposed to be doing, so I decided to sit down and just chill a bit.

It's going to be my turn next.

"Difference about what?" I answered with a question, looking at the crew setting up the lights, before turning to him.

"Well," he began, "I've read your script, for today."


"I feel..." he paused, searching for the words to convey his feelings. His mastery of English is very competent, far more than many of the others. "I felt really...depressed!"

I smiled. "Well...it's only supposed to make you question, rather than go the whole hog."

"Yeah," he half agreed, but maintained his course. "But it's so not...you."

I raised my eyebrow. "What is not me?"

"You're very...funny, very witty. Always have a smile on your face, always laughing and smiling."

I laughed. I had to. "Ah, thank you. I'll take that as a compliment."

"Yes, but," he continued. I can see that he feels that his point is not clear enough, though I get what he's trying to say. "Why are you movies different? Why are they not funny? Why are they so...depressing?!"

I had to admit, he's got a point there, one that I realised myself sometime back. "Well, truth be told...I don't know. I always start with a blank page," though in truth, everyone starts with a blank page (or monitor), "and I let the ideas come to me, or maybe I have the ideas before. But...depressing ideas tend to be more interesting, for some reason."

"But..." he started again, before letting out a long sigh. I see the look of resignation on his face. I smiled inside, quietly knowing that the points levelled at me are not too far from those I level at myself. If any, I am my own worst critic; never quite satisfied with I have achieved, no matter what it is.

Flashback to 1999; end of English Literature class in Forest Hill. Ms Ryan Tucker, the helper teacher who gives a hand to some of the kids that are falling behind, sat me down for a bit. Not so much because I was falling behind. If anything, it was the opposite. "Fikri," she started. "I noticed that you were unhappy with the assignment marks."

"Well, yeah," I said. "I thought I should've done better."

"You can't think like that, Fikri," she continued. "If you do, then you'll never be happy with that you have achieved."

That memory came flying back as I looked at Seo's face, a thousand questions still etched into every pore.

But he didn't ask. I let it be, for now.