''Hopscotch'': Production

By Ana Vianavb

hopscotch-ana-vianav-4.jpgHopscotch, 2006

The Dream

was born from a dream. In the dream, I am a little girl playing hopscotch in the communal courtyard of the house where I grew up.

It was a summer morning; the heat was oppressive. I started to notice a lump in my throat in a very subtle way, as if I could feel the crying emanating inside me. But it wasn’t me; it was another soul, yet I could feel her pain deeply inside. I looked around and I couldn’t see anybody. I couldn’t hear anyone either, but her presence became stronger. Suddenly there was silence.

hopscotch-ana-vianav-2.jpgHopscotch, 2006

An extremely bright light coming from one of the windows made me look up. I got dazed. When finally, I was able to see, I discovered the fragile figure of my neighbour, Alma. She was standing on top of the ladder painting her room white. The window was wide open.

And then she turned around and looked at me. I had not seen her smiling for a long time.

“Ana don’t worry”, she said. “You don’t have to be sad. Now I am here where everything is clean, everything is clear”

The Reality

Alma committed suicide at dawn one summer. She hung herself from the kitchen window.

The night before, Casi, the middle-aged neighbour from the first flat, probably cried in front of her TV watching a soap opera. Marta probably made love with one of her lovers. The South American family from the fourth floor probably had dinner together apart from those family members who couldn’t afford to cross the ocean in search for a better life...

...The whole community got on with their own lives, whilst Alma was thinking about how to leave hers.

Alma means ‘soul’ in English.

hopscotch-ana-vianav-3.jpgHopscotch, 2006

That daybreak when a bunch of male voices coming from the courtyard woke me up, suddenly I had that feeling. I knew it was about her. Fireman and policeman were there in my courtyard dealing with the dramatic situation.

The entire neighbourhood went out, I didn’t.

I didn’t want to think of her last image, it was too harsh. So I thought of something else, and what came to mind was the image of the courtyard and its surrounding brick building. In my mind I started to fly over it, over its roof, the place where I used to go, disobeying the strict orders from the neighbourhood. And then I landed there on the roof, and looked down at the courtyard. Six trees stand in the middle of it, and a stone path leads to the main door. I was looking at the stairs, and the magical handrail, where I used to play acrobatic games. The staircase were leading into the back yard with that little intention of a garden that my father was trying to create, taking care of the earth. He has always been an adoring man, very fond of nature. So, I pictured my father there with all the plants and the flowers; iris, purple iris and some roses, big pale pink roses. The smell of the ivy growing up all along the garden’s fence, and the cats, we had millions of cats every summer time.

I tried to keep in my mind on all those beautiful things, wanting to stretch them out over time, making that awful moment vanish.

Then I started to imagine this building in section, as if it were sliced through, like the comic book I used to read when I was a little girl. (13 Rue del Percebe, illustrated by Francisco Ibañez) However, my picture book wasn’t funny. It was more like the voyeuristic and disconcerting film Happiness, where Todd Solondz delves into the lives of his characters and their personal search for happiness, only to find loneliness and obsession.

hopscotch-ana-vianav-1.jpgHopscotch, 2006

I see it like hopscotch, a graphic representation of all those lives in boxes so close to each other but so isolated. Everyone in their own world, all of them searching for the same thing.

My imagined images ran parallel to that inevitable reality of Alma leaving her tiptoes, the final part of her body to depart from a solid platform. She is choosing to cross the thin line. She is choosing death over life.

I stopped thinking about it, so I wrote this down, I wrote it for me, I wrote it for Alma. And I sent it to my friends and family.

“Nothing has really happened until it has been described” she said.

“Write a lot of letters, to your family and friends. Keep a diary. Don’t ever let a day pass without record ... Something interesting happens every day” she said.