The Matryoshka Paradox

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Written by Basak Buyukcelen

Paula is a 25-year-old woman, who grew up in the old city of Taranto. She comes from a poor family and lost her mother to cancer when she was a child. Her father works at Ilva, the main factory of Taranto. She is a heroin addict and she’s with Antonio, a mid level gang leader in the old city.

One day, she takes a dose of heroin and wakes up at a cabin of a ship. In the cabin, there’s a big old chest and a large bed. She tries to figure out what’s going on. She is confused and scared. She tries to go about but the door is locked.

The captain walks in and tells her to sit still and absolutely not touch anything until he comes back. Yet he doesn’t return for a long time and Paula becomes more and more curious. She walks towards the chest and slowly opens it.

When she does, the ship sails and a baby in the chest starts crying. The captain rushes in and starts yelling at Paula for opening the chest and not listening to him.
Then he explains the whole situation.

The baby in the chest is Paula’s own self, her own childhood. With the opening of the chest, she gave birth to her own self. Her mission is to bring this child to the age of 25, over the next 25 days while the ship sails nonstop. One day on the ship is equivalent of one year for Baby Paula.

Paula will tell Baby Paula her life story and explain where she took the wrong turns in life and where she made mistakes. Baby Paula will have the chance to go back to Paula’s life and fix the mistakes she made to create a better alternative for her life.

If she can manage to complete the mission successfully, she will be able to take over the life of Baby Paula. But because the baby is Paula herself, whatever happens to Baby Paula will also happen to Paula. If Paula walks away and abandons the baby, the baby will die and so will Paula. Since the chest is open and Baby Paula was born, Paula has no choice but to play the game.
Over the next 18 days, Paula will bring Baby Paula to the age of 18 and tell her life story.

Paula explains she made her first mistake when she was 18. Her father was laid off from the factory along with thousands of other people. Taranto is in recession and the economy is dead. Citizens of Taranto look for jobs but there are no jobs out there.

Paula’s father tries to find a job for quite a while and realizes he is not likely to find one. So he goes to a bank to ask for a loan, but he gets refused.

Then he goes to Antonio, the leader of a gang and asks for a loan. Antonio refuses him saying he won’t be able to pay back.

Paula, knowing Antonio likes her and wants her for a long time, offers to be with him in return for the money. Antonio accepts the offer and gives Paula’s father the money.
Paula explains Baby Paula that being with Antonio was her first mistake and she should go back to fix it. She must, no matter what, stay away from Antonio.

Baby Paula, now 18, goes back to Paula’s life and picks up from when her father lost his job. She, just like Paula said, stays away from trouble. But day-by-day she sees her father’s desperation.

Over the next year, to help the family, Paula looks for a job. Yet, the town is in recession and there are no jobs out there. She finally gives up looking for a decent job and starts prostituting. But Antonio, wanting to keep control of her, starts indirectly pimping her and takes away all the money she makes. Baby Paula is now in a worse situation than Paula was before.

Back at the ship, Paula explains her second mistake. She tells Baby Paula that she got lost in the world of drugs and alcohol because of her involvement with Antonio. She left her family alone and forgot why she ended up there in the first place. Paula tells Baby Paula to go back to her age of 20 and fix the situation for her.

Baby Paula, now 20, goes back to Paula’s life. She’s still a prostitute and cannot make enough money to help the family. Her father, out of poverty and mostly desperation gets sick. He needs to be taken care of properly. Baby Paula is desperate.

She makes up her mind to get the money they need to save her father. She starts dealing cocaine.

Back at the ship, Paula is furious at Baby Paula for dealing drugs. They argue over choices made and Baby Paula tells Paula she lost her chance in life and now has to leave control to her. It is now her life and Paula needs to accept that. Their relationship becomes like a young mother-troubled daughter relationship. They keep arguing but they are running out of time to change their destiny.

Paula explains her third mistake. She tells Baby Paula that she couldn’t save her father from being killed and Baby Paula needs to go back and save their father.

Baby Paula, now 22, goes back to Paula’s life and tries to save her father. She goes to Antonio and begs him to give them extra time to come up with money. Antonio accepts the offer with one condition: Paula will be with him. Baby Paula accepts the condition and gets the extra time she needs to save her father. Baby Paula ends up making the same choice Paula made, only with years of difference. She is now with Antonio.

Antonio, being the leader of a cocaine dealer gang, wants to move up in hierarchy, expand his business and get control over the heroin territory. Yet the big boss tells Antonio that he needs to prove himself and show he’s capable of running the heroin business. Big boss tells Antonio that the only way he’ll be convinced that Antonio has what it takes to run the heroin business, he needs to kill Paula’s father to make an example of him and prove he doesn’t have a soft heart.

Back at the ship, Paula explains Baby Paula that her final mistake was to start using heroin after the death of her father. She tells Baby Paula that if she can save the father she’ll be off heroin and this is her only chance.

Baby Paula, now 25, goes back to Paula’s life and begs Antonio not to kill her father. Antonio, knowing that he’ll get the heroin territory if he kills Paula’s father or will be killed if he doesn’t follow orders from the big boss, makes a decision and kills Paula’s father.

Baby Paula blames herself for everything that happened to herself and her family. She gets depressed, cannot face reality and she starts using heroin to forget her past.
One day, Baby Paula takes a dose of heroin and wakes up in a cabin of a ship.