Once upon a time, there was a boy. He might have been 9 or 10 years old. Living in a very small and desolate town, his life was typically that of a countryside boy: simple, unremarkable and devoid of any daily surprises. Everything was a mundane routine.
So, it came as a shock when the parents of the kid one day decided to take the family and visit one of the dad’s colleagues. New dress, shiny shoes which smelled good and new perfume, something special was definitely underway. The whole family started walking together towards the destined house.
The house was at one edge of the town; a desolate corner at that. Except a couple of houses, there was just a broken, lonely road and few sodium-vapor street lights giving a ghostly halo to the entire scene. It was December and the place really cold.
At this point, the family reaches and finds the house locked.
Well, damn! What to do now?
Too much effort has already been put into this out of the normal trip. So, what? They decided to wait for the family to turn up.
Now one thing kids are definitely not good at is waiting. So, the boy roams, jumps and runs around a little and suddenly finds himself facing a dead end at the end of a dark alley.
When it was almost dark, the only light source illuminating the place was a faint sodium vapor street light few tens of meters away. The wall was rotten, and garbage was strewn all over the place.
Seeing this, the boy’s mind went into overdrive. Every single horror story came to life and seeing every single horror movie was a curse right now. The boy starts fantasizing about how some invisible power might break his neck, bleed him dry or hang him till death.
But, since this is a story, there might also be a hero and who better hero than the boy himself? He will fight all the demons, kills all the ghosts, and at the end, a shining golden sunlight will sing “Glory, Glory. Hallelujah.” there will be good in the world, everyone will praise him and he will be remembered forever as the shining knight who got rid of all the evil in the place.
Wait… wait… wait… What is going on? There was a kid in the alley… Then what happened? Can you repeat again, please? Well, the parents came picked the boy up and went into the house of the guy they were visiting.
Huh… That’s it?
Well, that is not it. What really happened here? What do you think?
This story is actually real and that boy is no one else but me and this is my story when I was a kid in a small town in Bihar, yes, those so called “Ugh… so ugly!” places of India.
How do you say what is real and what is fiction here?
Surely, everything seemed real to me when I was thinking them. Every detail of every reaper coming to kill me or every scarface looking to murder me was crystal clear in my brain at that given moment.
I could visualize the movement of my sword and it slashing through the jugular veins of all the demons (if they had one). At the same time, one small part of my brain also told me, it was all a dream.
A fantasy. My fantasy was rooted in reality.
Yes, fantasy. That thing which is termed as a genre which is farthest away from the truth, the opposite of reality, the antithesis of the physical world. Fantasy is but only one of the examples, Horror, Sci-fi, mystery: all are termed as “Fiction” which actually means something which is not real.
But when we start categorizing stories like this, we fail to realize one thing: Every work of fiction ever created had its root in reality.
We take the world around us, our experiences, our feelings, our emotions and morph them into something physical, something tangible.
What are dementors from the Harry Potter fame but the manifestation of our own deepest fear to never be happy again?
What are hobbits not the embodying of our inner satisfaction, our desire to be content in our peaceful, beautiful happy life?
Who is Hodor but the personification of someone with a life altering experience in childhood?
Fiction is as real as the green crayon in a bucky leaf drawn by a child. It’s not important whether the green is real or not. All it matters is whether the child thinks that to be the accurate green or not.
Our thoughts make things real and they make them imaginary. The roller coaster can be a real fearful experience for some, and really amazing experience for others. It all depends on you, just like the perception of fiction and reality. Things will be real if you want them to be.
So, again, what is fiction without reality? And what is the reality that is not influenced by the realms of fiction?