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Monday, November 05, 2007

In The Train, The Man In A Wheelchair

After an entire day spent on another production meeting, I and a friend of mine took the KTM commuter train home.

As we entered the train, we saw a man in a wheelchair. The man pushed himself aside allowing others to pass and take the seats. My friend and I walked past him and sat.

The doors slid close and the train continued its way.

"That man is smart." My friend whispered, his eyes on the wheelchair-bound man 2-3 meters away from us. "He brought his seat with him, so he doesn't need to compete with others for seats."

He chuckled.

I chuckled too.

Then I stopped abruptly.

"What the f-" I remarked with a hiss. "That's WRONG, man!"

"I know, I'm really crass." My friend said, still chuckling.

"That's tasteless and twisted." I said in disbelief, and perhaps his audacity to say something that tasteless and twisted at a moment like that in such a situation made me surrender myself to more brief giggles.

Then rationality and political-correctness set in, and we both allowed our laughters to subside, and as we continued towards our destination to KL Sentral, we just spoke about other matters: Films we have recently seen, films he plans to do, my own film ideas, just stuff two filmmakers with a passion for films would talk about.

We reached our destination a while later, the doors slid open and a sea of humanity came flowing out. We tried to follow.

As we were near the sliding doors, the man in the wheelchair looked at us, and with an apologetic tone, asked:

"Do you mind pushing me out of the train?"

My friend did so hurriedly and unhesitatingly, signaling to the others to let him and the wheelchair-bound man past, the passengers parted, allowing them space to leave the train.

"Please, to the second floor." The man said, pointing to an elevator I've never noticed since I've always taken the stairs. My friend pressed the elevator button, around us, a blur, a cacophony of voices, the station PA speaker above us saying something gibberish. Just the usual for the KL Sentral station.

"This could be a short film." My friend, whispering again, his voice drown out by all the noises around us except for me who was standing nearby.

My mind started working. Yes, this could've been a short film. If done by a moralistic amateur filmmaker, it would be a short film about two guys entering the train, and sees a man in a wheelchair, and one makes an off-colour joke about the man, the other laughs despite feeling bad about it.

When the two were about to leave the train, the man in a wheelchair will ask for assistance, and they will try to help, and there will be remorse, and regret, an unsubtle look of shame on both their faces as they try help the man. There would be cloying piano music to manipulate the feelings of audiences. And then there would be awkwardness, followed by end credits.

Or maybe it would be a slice-of-life film, camera placed in distance, giving only long to medium shots of the characters, no music, no obvious moral message delivered, just something that unfolded onscreen until it fades to black, allowing audiences to
interpret its own meaning.