I remember it well, maybe too well. This one phone conversation with a person then very close to me. The conversation took place on a secret mobile phone and the number changed every few weeks. Whenever the SIM card had been discovered by the guards it took a few days until a new card was available. I called someone who was a new inmate in an Indian prison. The phone was the door for the people in prison to the outside world and for me the door into the absurd world of this spares cell, where 25 men were kept in a room together, where they ate pumpkin curry each day and had nothing to do all day long. When I called I never knew who would pick up the phone, because the men shared a phone. Was it a killer or an innocent person talking to me, before passing the phone to the one I wanted to talk to? I never asked about the life of these other people, did not open these doors to these lives – probably in self-defense. I do not know exactly.
“Wherever you are right now, is the door open? Can you get out? ” During this exact conversation he repeated these phrases every few minutes. Eventually, I could not listen to it anymore and hung up with an excuse. “Wherever you are right now, is the door open? Can you get out?” It tore my heart, because him being locked up not only kept us away from each other, far more it also kept him away from himself. The constantly repeated questions showed how he broke behind this thick door which was locked several times. A door neither of us was able to open. It stayed closed. For another three years and finally also made me close a door that I had opened two years earlier.
Since the day I had had this conversation I like open doors much more – they symbolize a new beginning, a step into something new and unknown. Open doors let the sun in and people out.
The door on the picture belongs to the Nyingma Monastery Namdroling, the Buddhist monastery in Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India. For refugees from Tibet it is a gateway back to their homeland, while the borders with Tibet will most probably stay closed for another countless years.
While some doors close or stay closed, luckily others are opening up. We have to be willing to see them and pass through.
So did I and hopefully so did he.
NB: My English is in progress – if you see mistakes feel free to send me a note. Thanks!