Upside down
No one would like to admit,
Upside down
Is how the awkward things
No use in contradicting
Conventional ideas
Of fearing individuals
Demanding constancy.

Strange thoughts and senses
Only serve the purpose
Of gossip, judgement, derision
And isolation.

They thought he was crazy
When he could not relate.
They thought he was stupid
When he could not understand
And explaining was a defeated battle
Before he even began.

Only someone blind
Seeing beyond
Attempted to comprehend
His upside down world.

He saw colours where there were none.
Letters and numbers tinted
On road signs, newspapers and books.
Different shades for different graphemes,
All but black. “A” was red.

He heard colours and saw sounds,
Moving shapes, length, width and depth.
Fireworks in his mind.
Voices, music, shutting doors,
Dog barks and clattering dishes,
All had colours only he would know.
“B flat” was orange.

Numbers had a place around him,
2 was closer than 1.
Time had a form in space
Quasi-tangible that he could grasp.
Sounds tingled his skin
With tactile sensations
On a body untouched.
Week-day names and months
Had their own personality,
Monday was a short temper man.

Words and colours
Had their own flavours,
“Love” tasted like cherry, blue
Like candy.
Even personalities had auras,
While pains sparkled rainbows.

Finally one day,
Though it made no substantial difference,
They told him his condition
Had a name:
Synaesthesia, they explained,
From Greek, sensations combined.
The new word gave him a thrill down the spine,
Its colour was lilac and it smelled like goat cheese.

I’ll never forget my friend
Who saw the world upside down
Teaching me colours as I see
Only black and different shades of grey.

[Featured painting: “Colour Field” painting by Mark Rothko]


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