Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Storyteller's Dream

I


The chaotic innumerous screeching visuals rushing out the window bars blurred his vision. He was looking at a cat attempting to cross a busy street, a kite trying to soar high in the sky, and a fruit seller making all efforts to lure the customers in the market.

A feeling of longing connects them all, he thought. After establishing this superior connection with the visuals his window had to offer this evening, he rested his head on his arm and stared at the fruit seller. Every evening he would look out of his room’s window, try to read the minds of people on the street, and speculate the many meanings of life. It had become his habit now to weave stories in his mind around these sights.

Storytelling had always fascinated him; he enjoyed doing this in every form – through words, images, and sounds. Shifting his gaze from the blur, he now looked at the pencil kept besides him and began to sketch in a scrapbook that his grandson had gifted to him. He moved the pencil from one point to another, trying to hold it firmly between his fingers and drew the shape of a raindrop emerging from the ground. It gave the impression of “an upsurge of rain”, which he then signified by a crooked line in the center of the page. He drew three more drops. Under the crooked line, he drew the face of a man. When he finished sketching, he gave the crooked line a cursory glance, nodded, and kept the sketch aside.

He then picked up another piece of paper and started to look around for inspiration. It seemed like the window was screaming for his attention. His neighbour was fighting with the fruit seller. The cat was now trying to reach onto the roof of his neighbour's house by climbing onto the fruit seller's bicycle. She got distracted by the noise of the kite getting entangled in the branches of a tree nearby, and ran off to a place where no one could find her. Amidst this chaos, the old man's eyes rested on the fruit seller’s bicycle. The old-fashioned bicycle was shining like an undeterred warrior that had fought its way through the brief roadside confusion.

The old man, known as an artist in his young days, reminisced about the bicycle he once owned; the bicycle that used to wake the residents of Sapna Nagar up every morning with its sweet, chiming bells. The bicycle that could seat four small kids at once and let them rejoice with the artist in selling newspapers to every household. This bicycle made him a newspaper wallah by the day, and a dream merchant by the night, taking him to places far and wide that few dared to explore. It granted him the freedom to do what he wanted to do. It was a friend, in good times and bad times.

II
    
                         
Bicycles had been a part of his life since he was 5. His first support-based bicycle was the most memorable one, gifted by his parents. His parents knew his love for bicycles, so they always knew what to gift him on special occasions. On some days, he would travel to another city on his bicycle, and return in the evening with his parents clueless about his adventures. Being the only child made his youth more enjoyable. He enjoyed being alone and indulged in the things that kids his age weren't allowed to do.

His adventurous nature, however, caused much worry to his parents, who, on one particularly gloomy evening, thought him to have died. He had decided to take a trip to a haunted haveli 4 hours away from his house. The same morning, he had overheard the Panchayat of his village talking about it. He quickly ran home, packed a bottle of water and a torch in his bag, and left to seek a new adventure on his bicycle. He pedaled with great enthusiasm and finally reached his destination. On the haveli’s gate, there hung an old, tattered signboard saying “Do Not Entarr”. He opened the main gate that surprisingly opened without a creak. He tiptoed inside while holding on to his bag. He gulped heavily and looked around. The ground was covered with dead leaves that had fallen off the trees in the adjoining garden–trees that were now dead and resembled a witch’s hands. Without a care in the world, he ran straight and opened the door, which again opened without a single creak. It seemed that the haveli was inviting him and that there were actually people residing inside.

He peeped inside and saw a lit fireplace, a huge dining table full of all kinds of rich people’s food, and an incessantly creaking chandelier hanging atop the dining table. He took a nervous step in the house and impulsively walked to the dining table. The food looked delicious and he was hungry after this long journey. There was no one around, so he started to hog on the food. Suddenly, there was a loud booming voice that shook up the haveli and also him. He quickly put some food in his bag and turned around. A middle-aged security guard was staring angrily at him. The man asked, “Where are your manners?” He replied, “Where are your manners, Baba? Why are you lurking around in this haveli as if it is yours?”

It was not the security guard but his village Panchayat’s head, who had donned a fake security uniform, and spread rumours in the village to keep people away from his “unofficial” abode. He took some more food from the table and smirked. Casually, he then walked out of the haveli, sat on his bicycle, and headed for home, oblivious of what was waiting at his home – his parents having already killed him in their “adventurous” minds.

 III
 
                 

As a “dream merchant”, his adventures continued, though much smaller in measure. As a newspaper wallah, his daily routine was set until the afternoon. One girl had become a special friend of his, and every day, he would get one chocolate for her. Their mutual love for bicycles brought them together and both enjoyed each other’s company. She would often ride with him on the bicycle in the afternoons. One day, both of them decided to take their bicycles to the main road expecting it to be empty and clear of traffic. He was keeping his bicycle to the road’s side and urged the girl to do the same. However, the girl ignored him and her adventurous streak steered her in the centre of the road’s. He once again politely told her to come back to the side, but she laughed off his advice and said she won’t. He got angry and shouted, but she didn’t budge and started zigzagging. He got off his bicycle and started to walk up to her. Suddenly, he saw a truck rushing towards them. With all his strength, he took control of her bicycle’s handles and successfully moved her to a side. While he attempted to run for his life as well, he couldn’t run fast enough. He fell on the road and the truck ran over his legs, as well as his bicycle on the side. Lying still on the road, he cried in immense pain. The girl looked at his legs in horror and then at his bicycle. Both had been damaged for life.

Five years later, the dream merchant started to live alone in a small house with a window that provided impetus to his imagination. His family visited him twice a year and brought him gifts and sweets. A nurse visited him twice a day to care for him. Young kids from his colony often came to his house to hear his stories. They used to lovingly call him “Kahaani uncle”. He was popular for one more thing: a bicycle parked outside his house. He could never ride the bicycle now, but his wheelchair held more adventures for the rest of his life.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Seventh Love


It had all started with a click.

I was just wandering on the internet on a cloudy evening. I didn’t know what was to come. I had just completed my pending work which had been staring at me since two weeks. Finally, conquered all of it!

So now after strolling around on all the social networking sites I have marked my presence at, I went to my best friend, Google and searched “blogs”. I did not want to make a blog of mine, but wanted to read some. Being an avid reader, I usually go on random links and start reading stories. I have this peculiar habit of reading various blogs every day and then awarding my favourite as the Blog of the Day. The prize being a conversation with the writer. I’ve always felt that the person behind the story is the most intriguing part of a story.

After reading some six blogs with almost mundane styles, I clicked on the seventh link. I thought to myself, this has to be my Blog of the Day; seven being my lucky number. I read the blog’s name. I read the first story on the blog. And then I read the writer’s name. I knew this was The One for the Day. I had found The One, for the day.

Amit N. His blog profile proudly said his name. I must admit I had wondered about the ‘N.’ for a long time, longer than I’d thought about the story I’d read on his blog. This writer was different. His blog had a lot of poems. I went through all of them one by one. At the end of the page, I had to take a break. I was suffocated by emotions. Each poem of his had a sense of sadness to it. Keeping my sudden gloominess aside, I clicked on the ‘About Me’ section almost twice. Student, Cancer, 21 Male. I was magnetically attracted to his e-mail id. I added him to my friends list the very next second. I didn’t know what was to come. I wasn’t even thinking.

I didn’t have to wait much for the prize ceremony. He didn’t keep me waiting. He initiated the conversation. I told him I loved his blog. He asked me why. I was taken aback. Nobody has ever questioned me this. So I smilingly wrote down the answer to his question. He didn’t reply for almost two minutes. I tried to keep myself distracted throughout. Then he wrote, “You sure? I’m somehow not convinced.” For two minutes, I didn’t move. Probably for the first time in my life, I didn’t know how to react. This writer was indeed different.

Four days had passed since our first acquaintance. Four days. Ten conversations. By now we knew each other’s telephone numbers, address, family, and friends. All we didn’t know was about each other. On the fifth day, he asked me if we could meet somewhere. I was apprehensive. I wasn’t too sure. That day I ended the chat abruptly and went offline. I wanted to avoid him. I wanted to avoid thinking about him. Half an hour later, my phone rang. It was him. I picked up the phone. The first thing he said was, “I understand. It’s ok. Take your time.” And all I could do was breathe a sigh of relief and smile.

After two days and two terse conversations, I called him up and said, “We need to meet. Tomorrow. Café. 12 pm.” He said, “I will be waiting for you.” The next day I felt the same when I’d read his blog. I was suffocated with too many feelings at one time. I was anxious, excited, highly nervous, and slightly indifferent. I wanted to close my eyes and hum a song. So I did. When I opened my eyes, my sister was staring at me. She just about managed to control her silly laugh for four seconds.

When I reached the café where we were supposed to meet 15 minutes early, I saw many filled tables. But I knew it wasn’t going to be difficult finding my winner. He was sitting besides a window, staring at an old woman sitting outside on the pavement. I went up and sat quietly. We exchanged glances and smiles. Surprisingly, he looked at me from head to toe and said, “As expected, you look great.” Gulping down the amazement, I replied, “I’m sorry. I didn’t have any expectations.” He laughed and said, “Coffee?” We spent the next two and a half hours talking about that old woman, the ill-behaved weather, our previous meetings, our blogs, and a number of things which I don’t even remember now. All I remember is the constant smile in my eyes. When I reached home, my mother and sister were watching television. I walked in the house with a transformed face. I’m sure I shocked both of them because they couldn’t concentrate on their favorite serial for the next five minutes.

For sometime I was in that trance. Ten days later, he broke it. He had to go out of town for seven days. The first day I kept thinking about him. I realized I was most intrigued by his voice. Till the evening, we kept exchanging messages. This ended when he messaged me, “I’m already missing you. Don’t know how I’ll survive for the next 6 days.” After this, he kept messaging me till midnight. I didn’t reply to any of his messages. Not because I didn’t know what to, but because he didn’t say it correctly.

After he came back, we met each other. We didn’t talk for 20 minutes. Then I looked at him with a frustrated face and said, “Say something. Or say it!” It was his turn to be shocked. He bent forward, took my hand, then left it, and said, “I really want us to be together.” I took his hand and said, “I missed you too. Don’t know how I survived those 6 days.”

It’s been seven months since our first acquaintance. I don’t have a moral of the story. I don’t have a “The End”. I’m still living in the trance. He continues to intrigue me. And I still know he is The One. I have found The One, for life.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Protected Eyes

It was that time of the day when the sun wanted to embrace you for the rest of the day. Some of its rays were peeping through a huge boundless tree. He was sitting there. He was reading a book. His face said that he liked the book. The sounds of birds and squirrels on the huge tree and the voices of children accompanied his excursion towards the next page. He was reading a book on travelling.

Travelling fascinated him. He loved to explore new places, new people, new cultures, new perspectives, new sounds, and new visions. His dream was to go on a world tour. His mother thought that it wasn’t possible. In fact she used to always laugh on him saying, “Why do you need to travel? It’ll be of no use.” His mother loved him a lot. She was very protective of him. He loved her too. His father had died 8 years ago in a car accident. He wasn’t a very loving person. He used to keep to himself most of the time. His father seemed like a person who had no dreams. He used to be awed by his father whenever he was around. Being their only child, contrary to perceptions, he had no responsibilities. He always used to paint himself as a free bird.

He liked painting too. He loved the fact that by holding a brush in your hands and smearing it with life of any colour, one could transform an empty sheet into a world of your own. Once, he had drawn a tower alongside a river and titled it ‘The Eiffel Tower- As I See It’. His mother was astonished to see such an accurate image of a place which she and her son hadn’t visited even once. One fine day, when both of them were sitting in the balcony and chatting about their neighbors and the weather, he decided to paint her picture. She initially was reluctant, but, later agreed for it. He told her to not to pose and do whatever she feels like. After an hour, when she saw the painting, she made a disagreeing face. She told him to draw a line at a point. He asked, “What was missing?” She replied, “A smile.”

He didn’t have many friends. He had tried to build some relationships, but most of the people were irresponsive. They thought he was a strange character. The reason behind that is that he is a dreamer. He loved to create dreams for himself, for his mother, for his father and for people he didn’t know. Dreams always seemed like a mystery story to him; or like an unlocked treasure box. He thought he had the key to that box. He thought he already knew the end to that mystery, whereas he’d never conceived a beginning. 2 years ago, on his father’s birthday, he was dreaming for him. A man who could have led a perfect life, only if he wouldn’t have been so engrossed in his thoughts that night. A man who could have seen his wife’s painting his son had made. A man who could have been a part of the future his son had often dreamed for him. A man who could have helped his son make friends.

He held the leaf in his hand which had grown out of the tree’s shadow and wanted to explore the world. He made the leaf his bookmark. He heard a familiar sound coming towards him. The occupant of that familiar sound was a friend of his, who he had met 5 years ago in a park like this, who did not find him strange, and who found solace in his company. He had always thought her to be a lonely child. She greeted him and asked him what he was doing. He said “nothing, just thinking about you.” She said in a surprised tone, “about me? What were you thinking about me?” He replied, “Well I was just thinking how I have been provided shelter throughout my life…by my mother…my father…by nature…by my dreams…and by you. I haven’t seen anything in the past 10 years. I can’t. But people around me have protected me and guided me. It’s wonderful, isn’t it?” She said, “Yes, it is indeed.” And he continued reading the book. And she just stared at him, trying to seek shelter in him and his world.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Rain Drop's Self Esteem

It was a busy street that morning. A very crowded one. Astonishingly, everybody could find some space to nestle themselves. It seemed that the world was a sea and everybody had a boat to travel in. We don't know each other personally. We see each other every other wet day. But somehow we never get the time to stop and talk. It has always been like this.

So this fateful day, I managed to halt at an unknown place. I saw others over there. Some of them were dancing. Some were singing. Some were playing. Some were talking. This place is heaven, I thought. People from our community don't even bother to look at each other. I went ahead and danced with the dancing group, but they laughed at me as I couldn't flow to their rhythm. I went and joined the singing group, but they rejected me, as I couldn't sing their sound.

I wore a sad expression. I began to walk backwards to my community. I felt low and unhappy. "Cheeeeeese", a happy face screamed. And just then, something flashed and winked at me. That happened again, and again, and again. The happy face looked happier and satisfied. So I thought, "Hey, I can't dance, I can't sing; but I can pose for the winking machine!"

I became the talk of the town, including my community. Yes, they started talking to each other. A new group thus came into place called The Wink and Pose Group. And I am the leader of that group.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Life of a Running Mind

She was running. In fact, she was heavily panting. Profuse drops of sweat ran on her neck, her back. Her legs were tired. Her mind was still active, though. She had a 22-year-old body which, fortunately, was vigilantly in touch with her mind. She was running straight. She kept in mind not to disturb or hurt any entity during her journey. She had a goal to follow the straight path, and follow the road. Sometimes she felt like changing her track and taking a turn, but her mind did not permit her since Home was close. She did not want them to know her act of disobedience. So she did what was expected of her.

Since her early years, she had been told the do's and don'ts of living. Her parents told her to do what her elder brother did. Her elder sibling did what the parents said. She did not want to be a puppet crafted with lifeless strings. So, she ran. She ran without an end. She ran without a destination. She ran without any limit. But she ran straight.

When she had traversed a long distance from home, she changed her track. She turned right. She breathed in a new air. A new air of freedom, a new air of satisfaction. She felt like an individual. The 22-year-old puppet realized the existence of a soul in her. She ran happily. She ran like she was dancing. She ran like pounding drum beats. She ran like a haunting violin being played in the sea. She ran how a dog pleads for a bone with the tongue sticking out. She ran like a child crying for love. She ran with arms open wide letting go of the strings that held her all these years.

She turned left. After a short while, she stopped. She had come far away from the genesis. She heaved a sigh of relief. With a smile, she walked towards a new beginning. And this walk defined the life she led thereafter. She lived life her way, no strings attached. And she loved the responsibility that came with living the life of an individual...the life of a running mind...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Line

She was sitting in the arts room in the afternoon, with a pencil in one hand and a "what-am-I-supposed-to-do" expression in the other. She was eagerly waiting to hear her favourite sound...the school bell. The clock nearby the window was lazily ticking away, as if it had no destination to reach. As she was staring at the clock, the notorious villain, Anaahita's teacher came and scolded her. She returned her hazy gaze to the plain sheet which was resting on her desk. The sheet stared back at Anaahita.

The teacher had told the class to draw something based on the theme- "Lines". So, Anaahita drew a line on the untouched sheet. Then she drew another line. And then one more in the middle of those two lines... And then she wrote an 'A'. Then the self-confessed lover wrote her name all over the sheet. How attractive it looked, she thought to herself. The teacher came, saw and took away her sheet and told her to be more creative. Anaahita protested by reiterating that she had drew some lines which made sense. With a new plain, white and dull companion she began to think on the "lines" of the theme. She started chanting "lines, lines, lines..." in her mind to get some idea of what this topic meant. She thought of lines that separate people...lines that unite people...lines that lead to happiness...lines that lead to sadness...lines that lead to an innocent smile...lines that lead to an angry frown. Anaahita gasped. She finally knew what this theme meant.

Lines... Such an integral part of our life, yet so indiscernible. Lines that come and go like wind...lines that stay for life...lines that scar...lines that begin everything, and there are lines that bring an end.. The simplest, yet the most hated line, the Line of Control came first to Anaahita's mind. Then she thought about her grandmother's wrinkles...then her mother's scars on her hands... Anaahita stared at the clock. She'd never wandered so much in her thoughts ever before... She saw lines everywhere. So, she was still confused as to what to draw on the dull, white sheet which now was more interested in flying out of the window.

Within the last fifteen minutes of the time frame given to the class, Anaahita drew whatever she could gather from her thoughts. She thought since there cannot be a summation of "Lines", she drew the Cross of Jesus Christ. Satisfactorily, she gave her piece of art to the teacher.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Dreaming Titli

Titli was wondering why her brother, Rahul, became so enthusiastic whenever he went out to play cricket in the evening...she was thinking what can be so special and magical about a game of a bat and a ball? Rahul had many a times tried to explain to her that cricket is his life, but the 11-year-old Titli failed to understand the importance of wood and leather in his life. So one evening, she thought of watching Rahul play. Through her half-sleepy eyes, she watched her brother batting and her neighbour bowling to him. She watched 4 balls being bowled, and nothing happening. And then suddenly, Rahul hit a six...and the crowd, which had the likes of rickshaw walas, nearby shops' owners, some employees, and some neighbours who were standing in their balconies who had nothing better to do in the evening; started shouting with joy and chanting Rahul's name loudly. Titli got scared of all the noise. She called her mother and informed her about the noise outside. Her mother started laughing and said, "Pagli Titli, your brother is playing well, which is no reason to be scared of." Her mother went back. Since Titli still couldn't understand the prodigiousness of hitting a six and breaking a neighbour's window, she went inside to watch television.

When Rahul came back in the night, all sweaty and smiling, he had a chocolate in his hand which he gave to Titli. Titli without questioning her brother's generosity and euphoria, opened the chocolate and started eating it. Rahul just smiled and went in the kitchen to inform his mother that his team had won. Titli heard that and immediately went to the kitchen. Rahul saw her, pointed towards the chocolate and said, "And that was my trophy." Rahul and his mother started laughing.

The next day, Titli was painting something for her mother, while her mother was watching television. Titli suddenly said, "Why is bhai so passionate about cricket? It's just a game..." Her mother said, "It's more than a game to him." Titli raised the paint brush, like a lawyer makes a point in the court; and said, "But I still don't understand." Her mother said, "What does a paint brush mean to you?" Titli stared at her mother and then at the paint brush and then at her mother. Titli said, "I like painting. The paint brush helps me in doing so. Infact I can become a painter..." Titli started dreaming with the paint brush resting on her face. Her mother said, "Titli, you can definitely become a painter but don't paint on your face!" Titli who was still lost in her dreams asked her mother, "Ma, is dreaming a good thing to do?" Her mother didn't reply. She stared at Titli. Titli shook her mother from her thoughts and asked the question again. Her mother said, "Well, dreaming is as important as breathing...it's important to dream about yourself, your future or your present. Happy? Now complete your painting."

After half an hour, Titli showed her mother the painting. Her mother was choked with emotions. Rahul saw the painting and stared at Titli and said, "You have made this!" Titli said, "It may not be perfectly painted...but the emotion is perfectly there in it. She's free...to fly...to dream...to breathe. She represents Life." Titli's mother and brother were speechless.