Friends and Strangers

What? Could they return to being friends? There was this weird undercurrent of… A little something else. Like a little zap that he felt when he shook hands with her at the airport. They walked out in companionable silence. He tried to fill the silence with some insipid enquiries about her flight, the flight food and she made the same enquiries about their plans for the day. She had about two days. And then she would be gone. Back to their existence, where the words would float back and forth on a screen. It was a strange friendship between kindred souls who couldn’t have grown up more differently. Differences spanning time and distance couldn’t have erased the inexplicable similarities between them. They had rounded the corner of the airport. “We will hail a cab from around that side” he pointed across the road. She suddenly felt nervous about rhe traffic. Different city, different rules. She looked at him unsurely. He moved to her right and a bit in front of her, as he guided them across safely over to the other side. She smiled in gratitude and said “Thanks”. He teased her for being a scaredy cat, and the awkwardness melted. She laughed readily, teasing him back about his insipid remarks at the airport. Soon they were chatting like the old friends that they were. Over a slice of cheesecake as he elegantly wiped at his mouth, he observed her. Her eyes seemed a bit dilated as she looked at him directly with her honest, unflinching gaze and smiled in that lazy, lopsided manner. Her cheeks had a bit of a rosy sheen to them. Interesting, he thought. He seemed to be leaning forward completely towards, fixing her with an earnest gaze that made her ears feel a bit warm. He appeared to be taking any chance he could, for their fingertips to brush. Curious, she thought. There was a point in time where all speech was suspended, and they understood perfectly without words what each wanted. “I have to go.” She said abruptly, and got up. She paid the bill directly at the counter. They walked out, side by side maintaining enough distance for a third person to walk with them, between them. “I think there is this lovely hexagonal shaped garden you would really enjoy.” He said, in a pathetic attempt to rekindle some communication between them. “I am actually feeling pretty beat, I think I will head back to the hotel now. It was nice meeting you.” She said and waved him off, as she got into a taxi.

He didn’t know why he felt so disturbed as he sat on the steps, booking his own cab home. She thought of texting him. Deciding that it was a fruitless endeavour, she put her phone on silent. The cabbie had good taste in music; she closed her eyes and enjoyed the music all the way back to her hotel. She ignored her phone that buzzed incessantly with messages. Yep. Eight messages. All from him. Upon reaching her hotel and finally lying in bed, she checked the messages. He had sent her links to some nice places in the city for her to check out. Nothing about a second meet or asking to join her. She smirked and made a decision.

“Would you like to join me?” She texted him and smiled on seeing what he sent in reply. “Yes, we would :)”

The Ceramic Women

“Run, Missus! It is not safe for you here any more” the boy implored. “Nonsense, Jonathan. You have a very active imagination.” She ruffled his hair, noting with a slight smile how he coloured when her fingers grazed his forehead accidentally. “Now get to work” she reminded him firmly, but not unkindly. Several moments passed with the pair working perfectly in unison. “Your Master was married twice before, was he not?” She asked suddenly. The boy nodded. “Do you know how they died? I have heard people talk. I know he can be a bit rough around the edges, but he is not as bad as they think him to be.” She continued. The boy looked surprised, peered at her from between his sandy hair. For a long time, he didn’t say anything. She watched him. He seemed to be shifting from foot to foot, contemplating and struggling with something. “He killed them, Missus! He is a bad man, he deserves to rot in Hell. You shouldn’t be here!” He burst out hotly, wiping his eyes on his sleeve. “Jonathan!” She went after him, shocked at his outburst. She was ready to reprimand him strongly for what he said. She followed him, and found him sniveling while feverishly ruffling around in the Master’s workshop. “What do you think you are doing?” She said sharply, pulling him away. “Wait, please… I want to show you something.” He pulled out miniature ceramic figurines of women, rendered so beautifully. “He made this? They are so life – like. He never told me about his artistic abilities”. She was astonished. Showing her the figurine of the woman in a bath tub, Jonathan said “This was his first wife. God bless her, she was as saintly as they come. She was his cousin. She always had a kind word for everyone.” He paused. ” How did she die? I heard that she died shortly after childbirth.” She inquired. “The Master wanted a boy. She gave birth to a girl child. The Master was displeased. He drowned them both in the tub and threatened me with the same fate if I told anybody. Besides who would ever believe that someone of his stature would do something so heinous?” His voice rang out in that shed. She shuddered slightly. Regardless of whether it was true, it was a horrible story. She was tempted to cut the boy’s pay for the day. What a horrid boy, him and his imagination! Spreading such lies! She crossed her hands, gazed at him levelly betraying none of her thoughts or emotions. “And what about this one? I am presuming this is the second one then?” She asked him as she turned around a figurine slightly more voluptuous than the first one with a sunny smile. This one looked to be in repose. “She was indeed his second wife. The post master’s daughter. We were classmates. She was vivacious and had a lovely, singing voice. I liked her a lot. You could even say, I was a bit sweet on her. And I think she knew. Which is why it came as a shock to me when the Master brought her home as his new bride.” Jonathan looked away, his eyes burning. She reached out and squeezed​ his shoulder. “She was seventeen, and with child when she supposedly fell down the stairs. I had heard them arguing the day before. He was accusing her of infidelity, and she, the same. It was true that she had taken up with a young writer at the lodge down the street and she was planning to run away in order to escape the tyranny of the master. Somehow, the Master found out. A passionate fight ensued between the two of them. She was never one to mince words. When it happened, they were the only two people in the house. Or so I am told.” The words spilled out, as if he had held them in for years. He probably had. She mused. “What makes you think I am not safe anymore?” “I found this when I was cleaning the shed yesterday.” With trembling fingers, he handed over a brown paper bundle tied in string. Puzzled, she unwrapped the bundle, and let the contents fall to the ground with a scream. There lay on the ground, fragments of what was earlier, a perfectly rendered miniature figurine of her.

The Window and the Great White Bird

I looked through the shimmering glass window. I saw her ornate writing desk, half opened like someone had gone through it looking for something. A lot of things I remembered placing there were missing. A few journals, I think. There were a few loose sheafs of paper. I recognised her handwriting. Those were my words, in a different time. The Sun was setting in the distance, I looked to my right side. The bed so perfectly made. Mine. But it wouldn’t be slept in, it had not been. For a long time. Briefly I considered just that. I sat there and soaked in the room. My one and only chance to see it. This wasn’t my time. I had to go back after all.
I closed my eyes. I remembered. She walked around, she seemed restless. She had never been more alone, but she had also never felt more free as she looked at the elephant that seemed to have materialised before her. The elephant didn’t seem afraid of her, she felt calm looking at it. She walked towards it. It sat down, so did she. She stroked it gently. Murmured words of comfort, and also relaying her predicament. How strange, she thought… That a creature she had only encountered a while ago should make her feel so safe, as though everything was going to be just fine. She sat down, her back resting against the elephant and closed her eyes. And waited. I felt the hours pass by. I knew what was coming. Sure enough, there appeared a white bird in the sky, the wings flapping majestically. The bird rose up towards the Sun, as though to devour it. There was a great explosion of light, like a canopy of shimmering fragments of diamonds enveloping the entire forest they were in. She rose, she was free.
She had arrived at the beach. She watched as the waters lapped at her feet gently, an ever present cool breeze playing with her curls, casting them about hither and thither. She opened her arms wide and received all of it, smiling serenely.
It was at once, the most peaceful and the most heartbreaking thing I had ever seen. I wanted to see no more, I opened my eyes. My eyes flooded with joy and envy, I know not if those tears running down my cheeks were mine or hers. It does not matter.

Here I am. Once again. Till the great white bird comes, I bid you all adieu!

Girl Crushes – Guess Who?

A Queen whose machinations shape the fate of a powerful empire. Another, a Princess whose words would change the history of that empire forever. That woman whose grace, prowess, intelligence and beauty made the prospective Emperor bow before her. Yet another, a fierce warrior. A Goddess of unparalleled skill, chosen for the most elite of missions. One woman who is driven by duty and family, the very family that goes on to betray her. Another, driven by love. A Queen she remains, even in captivity. Living without lament for the loss of her love, his life most cruelly snatched away well before his time. The other is driven by duty and sacrifice, inspiring the Saviour to take up arms and thus, changing the trajectory of his destiny forever. Setting in motion, a chain of events that inexplicably intertwined the tales of all three women as they powerfully come together to defeat The Man.

Free Writing – piece 2

This was the second exercise we undertook in the writing workshop I have mentioned in my previous blog post titled “Free Writing – piece 1”. The rules remained the same for this exercise, however the interesting part this time around was that Rohini pulled out a slender, wooden box which contained a few decks of tarot cards. We were each asked to select a card, focus on a card and write a story based on that image. The one I drew was the Death card from the Rider Waite deck.

Since I have dabbled in tarot, I felt the need to inform her that I knew what the symbols meant and that an element of bias might possibly creep in. Having said that, off we wrote. The timer was set for ten minutes. Here is what I wrote:

The buildings were burning. A heavy layer of soot and smog engulfed the place. He felt a distinct sense of unease. Death had definitely visited his village, and taken many with Him. If he listened carefully, he could hear the heart breaking wails of many people trapped beneath the ruins. His heart clenched painfully, his eyes teared up but he resolutely moved forward. He ran like he never had. His boots made a dramatic crunching sound, when juxtaposed with the eerie silence all around. He stumbled over bodies of friends and people he knew, but never paused.

There, House no. 43! He had finally reached his destination. All the memories of his childhood came back to him, flooding his senses with nostalgia as he walked through the house. He looked at the charred bodies. Father. Mother. Sister. Wife. Every single one of them was lost to him. He heard a faint wail. Could it be? He headed straight for the crib where lay his boy. His boy looked at him and began crying loudly. Bless the boy, what a pair of lungs he had on him! His boy, as if symbolic of the journey that lay ahead had his face darkened by ash and soot, but remained unharmed. He picked up the child carefully and walked out, feeling a bit more lighter and hopeful than when he first set​ foot in the village.

The rays of the Sun had began to break out in the distance, enveloping he village in a sort of unearthly brightness that seemed to him, more sinister than optimistic. He reassuringly pressed his son to his chest, and kissed the top of his head.

Musings on writing: Circa 2010

Disclaimer: I am no creative genius and hence those who read my blogs are bound to find redundancies in my writing. I write as it flows, from my heart, so all the inexcusable errors are absolutely mine and if brought to my notice, I will amend them at once.

The writing bug bit me after a very long time and I was seized with the urge to write something. After casting around for topics in vain, I thought “Why not write about writing?”. After all writing is not something insignificant. Writing is a wonderful thing. It is not about putting pen to paper and scribbling something down. It is about stringing together seemingly meaningless words and phrases and lending meaning to them. Writing is about voicing our thoughts and innermost desires. It brings to life the dreams that have not been realised or that, which cannot be realised, the emotions, the expressions that cannot otherwise be expressed as effectively as it would turn out on paper. Writing just lends a different kind of identity to thoughts, it makes them seem more solid, more stable and lends them permanency. Having written enough about the nature of writing, I think it’s time to move on to people and their highly individualistic styles of writing.

“Can everybody write?” I wondered. Of course, anyone can jot their thoughts down on paper provided they have the patience for it. However, like I said in the earlier paragraph, that alone cannot be called writing. What is it that sets each writer apart from the other? It is their style of writing or the way they choose to express themselves. Why is it that we feel some writers’ words carry weight and are powerful tools of expression whereas some others choose to express themselves in a mellowed down or toned-down fashion? The latter is often mistaken to be dull and uninteresting as it is impassioned and lacks the intensity that the former carries. It need not always be so. The intense or passionate writing style evokes powerful emotions within the reader and the toned-down form of writing makes the reader reflect about what they have just read. Each is good in its own way.

One more thing that brings the difference between various writers is when they write, the timing they choose to write. It is often that the most brilliantly churned out pieces of literature are written at odd hours, the plot and content conceived in odd places. I personally believe that writing needs to be done when the words are flowing inside the brain, when there is the inner urge to write which pushes you to take up the pen, and that is when the writing seems lively and retains a fluid-like quality. In other cases, there are writers who take a very systematic approach with unrelenting focus, their ideas spread out across several spread sheets, steadily building upon the plot and fleshing out the characters. However, either approach works just as well as the other to fulfill the purpose of the writer.

I mentioned earlier that each writer’s style is highly individualistic. Hence there are no such things as good writers or bad writers. There are only writers who carry universal appeal and those whose appeal to a certain section of society. No writer can be criticised for their faults except for maybe factual and grammatical errors committed during writing which cannot be helped as we try our best to steer clear of these errors, but often we do end up making them anyway. Erring is after all, the trait of humans. A writer’s style rises out of the kind of person they are, the kind of environment they are in and everything else that may influence their minds and colour their thoughts. Some of us may write for the love of writing, those who consider writing their passion and like a hobby fall under this category. Then there are those who write with a purpose, the purpose of making their voice reach out to the society and spreading their message far and wide. Then there is the third category whose voices are suppressed due to various reasons and since they have a lot of pent up emotions within them they often adopt the fiery style of lashing out against their oppressors in their writings and this feeling comes across as being very strong writing. Every piece of literature has a tone and feel to it, it is accompanied by the mood that the writer was in while writing, the things on their mind making it seem like the paper is speaking to the reader. Writing truly lends character to a blank white sheet. So, if the writing is what we are, then does the writing style change with changes in our personality? That change in our personality does come across in the writing and serves to unveil the new and modified style cultivated by the writer as their own personality undergoes many transformations.

It is up to us to choose what kind of writing style to adopt while writing and what style of writing to read. However, it’s my opinion that it is best to be well acquainted with both forms of writing. That way we get to truly experience the best of both worlds and its only then that we feel enriched. One must not stick to one style of writing alone. We need to keep experimenting. After all, isn’t variety supposed to be the spice of life?

 

Subjective musings: Optimism v. Pessimism

Generally, nature watching has always set me thinking, especially watching the sun slowly sink into the West. It brings out in me a sense of calm and clear-headedness where I can reflect on things in a better and much more sensible manner. Yesterday while precariously sitting on the ledge, lost in thought while watching the magnificent sunset, I was seriously contemplating whether it is better for me (or anybody) to be optimistic or pessimistic. According to the Oxford dictionary, optimism is “The state of mind where one believes that tomorrow will be better” or “feeling that the best is yet to come”, whereas pessimism is defined as “The tendency of looking on the worst side of things”. I’m a born optimist and always do believe that tomorrow will always be better than today. My friend however is pessimistic but maintains that she is not pessimistic but being “realistic”. So, can being pessimistic equate to being “realistic”? How can you call it as realistic when you are always fearing that something bad is going to happen? That’s hardly any show of realism. Realism would amount to weighing both options carefully and doing things in a clear state of mind, not in an optimistic state of mind or a pessimistic state of mind. While some may maintain that optimism is a trait of foolishness in today’s bad world, I still believe that “Hey, what’s wrong in thinking that tomorrow will be better?”. After all, the very thought that tomorrow might be better would spur us into activity. When we work on it and for it, our tomorrow is definitely bound to be better. Correct? Not only this, optimism is having a sense of hope in your heart and if the hope is lost, then your will is lost and what is there that is left to survive for? It would only become pointless breathing and existence and not “living”. After all, all the visionaries of the world were/are optimistic about the state of their nations, that everything can be worked upon and set right, that they can finally rise to their original glory. This is being optimistic, not that happy infectious state where you believe it’ll be okay no matter what. That would be idealistic to the point of foolishness. I can’t afford to be foolishly optimistic because that would be a very naive thing to do. Also, coming to the point does optimism really weaken a person and does pessimism really toughen anyone up? Yes, the pessimists declare. That since they are always looking out for any bad thing that might happen, they would be better equipped with dealing with bad things and that this would make them tougher beings. Okay, so their point is taken but don’t you think the battle is easier when you are armed with an awesome and deadly combination of preparation + hope? Aren’t we optimists better equipped that way because with hope, half the battle is nearly won because I believe that hope conquers fear and once fear is overcome, your biggest hurdle is cleared leaving the path free for you? Fear is indeed the biggest setback for mankind. Once fear grips you, I swear you can’t do a thing because fear completely cripples you mentally and makes you believe that you are worthless and that you are not up for anything. All the preparations that the pessimists have done stand in vain, mocking at them if they lost belief in themselves and their capabilities. When they don’t have that confidence or the will to go on further and tread a few more steps, how can they do it? after all, where there is a will, there is a way. But if the very will is lost, the cause and the battle both become futile. So, if the result is achieving futility of cause and purpose, then WHAT IS YOUR POINT IN GEARING UP FOR THE FIGHT anyways? This is also proof that confidence is born out of the innate reserves of optimism that one can draw upon in times of desperation and despondency. Most people simply choose to not tap this wonderful and powerful route to happiness. If nothing else, at least your optimism would keep the smile alive on your face even in times of internal strife? You never know who might get caught on to your smile and what might happen next. Plus, the belief stands that smiles are known to produce the most fantastic miracles (which happen to those who believe in them and we optimists do just that) and who knows? That one miracle might be all that it would take to change the course of your life. But of course, this whole piece of blogging was purely subjective and as such, lacks any solid backing or evidence. Having presented points about both optimism and pessimism, I hereby rest my case. I am still not clear as to whether I should remain optimistic or try being realistic. Perhaps I will wait for the next sunset to give me the answers. ;-). (PS-The sunset, itself to me is a symbolism of optimism. You know how the sunset is said to be the sign that darkness is about to fall but that is not so. That statement contains only the partial truth. The truth is, that it is a sign that the sunshine is still there, be it faint rays of sunshine, but it IS there despite the steadily engulfing darkness. To show us that the sun will surely shine through, even when Darkness is about to swallow everything in Her wake. And now, that’s what I call optimism.

By the way, these are the musings of seventeen – year – old me. Naive? Foolish? Wildly optimistic? You decide.