Back when I first met Samir, I was a fine arts student. I had rows of unfinished paintings in my flat, which were usually an indicator of Samir’s visits.
He liked to sit on the bed and stare at the paintings till something struck him, and then he would grab the nearest charcoal pencil and scribble all over the paintings. Then he would skulk away to some bar to observe human interaction, and I’d come home to twenty works of art.
And it worked of the paintings too. Samir’s scribbles lent an urgency to some of the paintings that my teachers seemed to appreciate. Our first collaborative exhibition (during which Samir sat in a corner talking to a plastic plant) got us a decent amount of money.
Usually, anyone in Samir’s position would be part of his way towards a breakdown, but Samir’s memory never let him get too stressed about these things.
One day, I arrived to find a canvas taped to the wall with a code on it. There were indecipherable scribbles in tiny type all around the code.
Samir was sitting naked on the bed. “I refuse to be a slave,” he said. He walked up to me. He looked ragged, but determined.
“These are detailed instructions for me so I don’t give up this time. I need five days, and my problems will be over. Well, under control. I am making sure I know how important this is. I’m making sure I can remember things again.”
“What is this supposed to be?”
“This is mere language. But I’m making a machine. To help me remember.”
“What are you gonna call it?”
He paused. Then smiled. “I forgot. But let’s just pretend I haven’t decided yet.”
And he took me by the belt and dragged me to bed.