By SIAM SHAHKHAN
Dear Boomerang readers, I mostly write film and TV reviews but this time I’m going to do something different. I’m going to write about change.
About six months ago, I stood outside a tube station in London when a Jehovah’s Witness approached me and handed me a booklet wordlessly. I stood dumbstruck, but curiosity got the better of me so I opened the booklet and read through it. No, I didn’t convert, although a piece of the text from the booklet did catch my attention:
“It takes 21 days to change yourself.” “Fuck,” I thought, “only 21 days and I can change myself into whoever I want.” I didn’t want to believe it. It seemed like one of those self-help adverts on porn sites. Those where they talk about those three sentences which expose loopholes in female psychology and help you manipulate women into sleeping with you. Yet, reading the Jehovah’s Witness’ booklet changed me. Obviously it was full of a lot of bullshit but the 21 days-part stuck with me.
When I went back to UCU the following fall, I was determined to test the Jehovah’s Witness promise. At first, I didn’t know what to do with that information. I could potentially be anything I wanted to. After a little bit of contemplation I decided that I wanted to be a magician. Magic is the art of illusions. It allows the magician to lull his audience into a state of awe. He can fool his viewers into believing that the mystical side of nature exists. He shows them that the world isn’t just solid and boring all the way through. He knows what they want. They don’t. They want to be fooled. I wanted to do that for people.
It took me almost 3 days to perfect a simple false shuffle. This magic thing wasn’t as easy as it had seemed. I failed countless times in front of people, a fool in the eyes of everyone who visited the UCSA bar. I stumbled with the cards and I messed up the cues. However, slowly but surely, I was getting better. For every 10 people that I messed up a trick for, there was one person on whom it worked and seeing their face light up made my day. It was a definitely a thankless challenge but I was determined to see it through.
I remember the day I was recognised as “the magician” on campus. It happened in the most casual of circumstances. I was in line at dining hall when I heard a group of girls point to me and condescendingly call out. “Oh yeah that’s Siam. The fucking magician.” I won’t lie when I say that I smiled widely when I realised that my attempts to actually bring a visible change in my life had occurred and that I was finally recognised as the thankless, shitty and annoying campus magician.