Saturday, February 26, 2011

Proposal

"In the depth of her heart, every girl conceals a story."--Anu.  

I knew Sameer from my high school days; Sameer the lover boy, Sameer the writer, Sameer the dream crush. He was there in everything superlative—campus fest, art fest, sports. He always scored the top marks in our class. I loved him. I would feel a movement down my underbelly whenever I met him and talked with him. I think I had a crush on him, like every other girl in our school.

But he was different from what I thought other boys to be. He was very sensitive and emotional; I knew that more than any one else, because I had seen him sobbing behind the boys’ room several times, whenever Rakhi finds excuses not to talk to him. 

Rakhi was the girl he loved, the centre of jealousy for the whole school.

One day I saw him weeping, behind the boys’ room. I could see him from the girl’s room on the top floor. Later that day I found an opportunity to talk to him. He did not say much, though. Try as I may I could not prod him to speak. That was the day, for the first time I wished our relationship had not been like that. I was a friend to him, just a friend but close enough to share secrets. But we never had...a light moment or laughter together. Sameer was a jocular person, but he would wrap himself up with seriousness, when he approached me. I too felt it that way, slowly skipping inside a shield against humour. We smiled at each other as a sign of friendship, but never cracked a joke. Laughter could have diluted his emotional burden, I hoped in vein.

There are things in our lives that we do not expect to understand fully; just like the change in my life, after 12 years. I do not want to believe in fatalism, a part of me could not help it, though. Sameer is part my life now, but not just like a friend. We reunited after the high school at the company I work for. We have been colleagues for about a month now. 

“What happened with Rakhi?”

“She got married the previous month.”

“Oh! I didn’t know.”

This was how we started our conversation sitting at a corner table in the crowded Indian Coffee House, like two characters from a boring novel I had read during my graduation. I felt, perhaps both of us had, the presence of an unbreakable crystalline object between us—an ice mound.

But it started melting, and there was a point, I would know, it would melt down completely, vanish, like there had been nothing of that sort between us, except my very own inhibitions and his shyness. 

“I wanted to commit suicide after her marriage,” he said.

I did not say anything. He still was the same Sameer and I still, the same high school girl, with a silent crush upon him. I felt my underbelly churning.

“So, that's how deep your relationship was. I understand.  But seriously, I do really not know much about your relationship. You never told me. Now, can you share the whole story with me, if you don’t mind?”

He nodded.

“When did you propose to her; back when we were in high school?”

He took a breath. “I never proposed her.”

“WHAT?” I asked; eyes wide, my voice close to a shout.

“I never did. In fact, I wanted to. I wanted to tell her that I loved her. I wanted to write everything in a letter. But I couldn’t, ever.”

He paused.

“Why?” I had to control myself not to make it a shout. I did not want to give him an impression that I was excited on the prospect of the conversation between us. But in truth, I was ecstatic.

“I was in a writer’s block.” He said.

I laughed. Aloud. That was the first time we did it together; we laughed. Maybe we will do it forever. It was then he proposed to me.

He touched my fingers and I felt a hole instead of my belly, as if it didn't exist. 

The Days That are no More--4

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tour Guides


Sam and Mithun had a dream. They wanted to showcase their land, its magic, its charismatic beauty and perturbing realities to the rest of the world. They wanted the world to visit their place. They wanted to be the people in the lime light, the crucial players of the game called tourism, to be tour guides.

When you are creatively active, when the flow of the organic serums accountable for creativity runs smoothly, you deem of things that are unthinkable and often close to insanity. You realize it only when the serum gets blocked. 

Resource acquisition: Sam had heard that term during one of the seminars conducted in his College on tourism. The presenter was a Professor from the UK. ‘She looked gorgeous, man!’ Sam had commented the other day to Mithun, when they met on the only drive-in beach in the whole of India, Muzhappilangad, their place, their dream destination; the place that was going to be their lucky charm.

‘But what is this so-called Resource Acquisition?’—Mithun had asked that day, trying to sound interested in the high sounding term.
‘It is nothing but making sure the providing of resources to tourists or whoever visits a place’—Sam had explained.
‘What are the resources?’ Mithun asked this time with genuine interest.
‘Resources are nothing but facilities, like toilet, restaurants, water facilities, etc.’ A node from Mithun had settled the affairs.

They had been moving on since then. Thinking, analyzing, and working on the possibilities of the drive-in beach. And almost after three weeks the realization came that it was possible for them to do anything and everything if and only if they had some first hand idea about the beach and its surroundings. ‘It is possible to live our dream, da,’ said Mithun one day, older in age than Sam by two years. Advice? May be. But Sam had liked it then, even now, but with some changes.

Priscilla Ahn was singing in his mind. “I have a dream….” The globalization impact? Mithun had a positive outlook towards it. ‘The multi-dimensional possibilities.’ He used to say.

And they decided to materialize that day: the one-day visit to the sand stretch from the Muzhappilangad driving beach to the Dharmadam Islet. ‘It is a piece of paradise, man. People will love it.’ Sam screamed, as the thought of their study tour popped in his mind, in excitement. They both had seen the Islet at a distant view. The drive-in beach too was an unthought-of adventure. Not many people go there usually, neither foreigners nor natives; the wretched of the earth. Not because it lacked in natural splendour or beauty, but mainly due to the difficulty in getting to that place and the lack of any sort of basic facilities. The highway was located one kilometer from the beach. The approach road to the beach was a mess with potholes arranged within a neat copy-book style black surface, which people called ‘road’.

‘Ah, no one would dare to drive-in here, buddy.’ Mithun stated as an auto rickshaw dropped both of them on the entrance to the beach. They came out with their backs curved in, like bows from the jerking ‘auto-journey’. ‘Our tourists would need a massage center for the health of their spinal cord. We need to keep that in mind, too.’ Mithun added.

‘An Ayurvedic medical centre as well,' Sam said and made an ear to ear bright grin. They were on their work, professional Tour Guides; they cherished that thought more than being in the beach themselves. ‘You are the writer; write something about this paradise turned hell.’ Mithun turned and looked at Sam in his eyes. Sam blinked with the two hollow balls on his face. He had no idea what to think and how had this paradise turned into hell; may be the auto-journey was what he meant. His head was a hollow balloon, covered with a calcium carbonate skull. He thought of something he hadn't told his friend yet, that day: he was in a writer’s block.

Sam was indeed the writer. And writing about the beach and its possibilities was one among their project plans too. The need for publicity for their venture would be thus met with. Sam would publish his articles on the beach and the wonders it offers in magazines and news papers ‘and people would read it and they would be so excited to visit this place, and if possible you can also write a book on our beach and then your fans would flock up to grab their much coveted signed book from their author. And you know what; we will organize the book signing function, here; right here, in the lap of the Arabian Sea.’

‘Oh, just shut up, man. Sometimes your mouth opens too much. Gimme a break, now! Focus on what we arrived here for.’ Sam quieted his friend.
‘I noticed from the moment we met today that you are really grave. What is the matter? What happened? Is anything wrong?’ Enquired Mithun.
Yes, there indeed, was. ‘Too many questions. Donno what. But I had not been able to write anything for many days.’  
        
They decided to walk through the drive-in beach. It was a long way to the Islet, may be about five kilometers. Their plan was to cross the whole distance to Dharmadam Islet walking through the beach. And they planned a great trekking experience for the future tourists who visit the shores of Dharmadam and Muzhappilangad. Something more pleased them: they were the ones to walk this route for the first time.

A surprise encounter awaited them. They were almost hit by a car from behind. Almost, but Mithun who was in his wide-eyed-excitement located the vehicle just in time shooting in their direction in the velocity of time. The fact that they were still alive was not enough to prove their skipping out of harms way in time to be believable. It was very close. ‘Killing beach,’ Mithun murmured. Sam looked at him pleased with the creative spark in his reaction. Or was there? It was hard for him to tell. Still, those two words were packed in with an artistic possibility, he felt. He shook his head, yes. 

This could be one of the bad experiences if you are in a writer’s block, don’t you think so. You see your art, living, maneuvering in wilderness, like a deer in front of a hunter without weapons. You will close your eyes, forcefully, for not seeing those scenes that you know sure to be potentially capable of filling your belly full of inspiration. Writing seriously has to do something with belly. It begins with a churn in the stomach; I remember reading it somewhere. One of these characters too felt it the same way; a churn in the belly; and a little bit more than that.

Sam felt nausea. That is what happens when you are in a writer’s block? No. But he had stepped upon something like a rotten squid. His eyes were fixed on the sea, wide and grey. He looked around on the ground. There were many sea creatures, dead washed onto the shore by the waves, which were eternally made to lay rest there. ‘It is terrible, da,’ Mithun pressed his nostrils close with a disgusting gesture. ‘Hey, it’s a possibility for you. You can write about the blindfold governance of the beach, in your blog, at least,’ he continued.

‘Stop, man. Let me think,’ Sam made him stop talking and went to the water to wash his feet. ‘The drivers are killing a lot of sea creatures washed on to the shore, aren’t they?’ he asked Mithun, not to make him feel hurt from the ‘stop’ call. But Mithun kept quiet. ‘In India, it is not the possible for the private sector to make direct investments in beach tourism such as making beaches private properties. There are legal limitations. So there is a treasure, but no treasure hunters yet or at least, not in a big scale. The wealth is hidden, untapped.’ Sam made a speech, partly to bring Mithun to speak something and partly to get his thoughts out in order. He forced his attention on the surroundings of the beach in order to avoid Mithun’s silence.

He wanted to react, to write, to announce he is alive, but his only weapon, his quill was lost somewhere in the confusion inside his mind. Does the confusion give rise to block or vice versa? Who knows?

Under the vast blue sky near the endless cadence of the waves a variety of Weeping Evergreen trees bordered the beach, with coconut palms at a distance. There on the ground, near by the Willow there was a creeper with violet flowers, which resembled a funnel. Both of them walked towards the flowers to take some pictures and make a map of the surroundings. But Mithun was still silent.

Walking over the sand was like pushing yourself forward while being pulled back by some mysterious force. They were close to the flowers. When Sam heard Mithun again, his voice was a scream, pulling him back, ‘STOP!’ The flowers were beautiful. Why was he stopping Sam, the suffering writer? ‘Look down,’ Mithun said pointing his finger down near Sam’s foot.  

‘I knew this before. So I was careful. Anyway you escaped narrowly,’ Mithun said and smiled. He knew this before because he was from this place. Sam was from the city, Kannur. Mithun was native of the village, Muzhappilangad. He would very well be aware of the temperaments of the place: open air excretion, and its exhibition; the pre-historic temperament. Sam was about to step up on human excreta: shit!

While they walked all the way back to the high way; walk they had to, as there were no auto rickshaws available; Sam thought of an interesting parallel: with the death of a dream, a story is born.

‘I don’t want to work on this project anymore, until the people of this place realize their mistakes. I tried a lot to fight this feeling back though, but now it is too much, da.’ Mithun declared his withdrawal, Sam agreed as they both approached the highway, exhausted from the walk.

The story does not end here. Three weeks later Sam wrote a story about their visit, which ended with a conversation between his two characters:

‘Someone has to take up the responsibility to clean all this mess up,’ said Sam.

‘But who would take the responsibility? We two are helpless, what can we do?’ Asked Mithun; more as a query than an attempt to evade. 
 
‘What about our dream? What about being tour guides?’ Sam asked.
   
Mithun smiled and spoke: ‘There are other places, too.’

The Days that are No More--3

Check the Link for guidelines.
The winners are:

Congrats Winners!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Institution


The Days that are No More-2
His contract with the Research Institute would end after two months. That was one of his primary concerns. He would be jobless.

“What did you say? Your husband works in America as a company secretary? That is GREAT. I was looking for a copywriter’s job. I know I am asking for a favour. But…can you enquire your husband about posts of a copy writer in his company? You know what a copy writer is, right? Someone, who creates magic out of words,” he was jabbering with one of his students.

He was their Lecturer in Chemistry. She came to meet him at the interval between two class hours. He felt special about himself, as anyone would in that situation. But what made him ask that favour? That favour—the simple act of asking a favour from a student and that too from a student who was in need for his help, who made him feel proud of himself being a teacher—could doubtlessly harm his self respect, at least a bit. But the act was played, the gesture was made.

“Why are you talking about job so urgently, sir? What happened? You already have one.” The girl asked. She had a smile on her face, but her eyes looked puzzled.

“No, nothing. I mean, my term in this institution is ending soon. So I need another job. Moreover, I want to see the world. I want to travel.” He said. She still showed elements of confusion. Then she said “good bye” and left.

I forgot to mention why she came to the lecturer. This is what happens when you are in a writer’s block. You lose the rhythm of art, of natural narration, and whatever you do falls outside the rhythm and you dance like a Chinese Yellow to the tune of a Bhangda. You—a sublime incongruity.
 
Flash back.

The lecturer was walking back to his cabin after the first hour of class, when he found her standing nearby her class room, waiting for him.

“Sir, can we talk for some time?” She enquired, with her eyes bright.

Then there was a usual set of introductory phrases. “Nothing much, sir... It’s nothing serious. But it can turn me well into an insane. I have no idea why I am doing this, even talking to you.”

“You can tell me whatever you want. I always am very affable with my students, aren’t I? So, don’t worry.” He reassured her, and looked at his watch, which he did to give her a subtle message that her introductory phrase chain is squeezing a lot if time out of both of their lives.

“Is it wrong to fall in love?” She asked; spinning a delicate layer of innocence across her eyes that stayed there for an eternity.

“No, not at all. I myself am in love, in love with Literature, even though I am a Chemistry teacher, I want to be with Literature all the time, to write; to be an artist.” He said and he regretted. A self stated identity; it is like playing a clown, without knowing you are.

But that is what one does when one is in a writer’s block. At times, I too do it that way. You try to state yourself with a revolutionary identity that you want yourself to be in, without realizing that a clown’s revolution is laughter, and laughter co-exists with none of the conditions valid for seriousness.  
   
May the clown in you die and the writer resurrect.

“I knew you would say this, but this is not a joke, sir. I am serious.” The joker died.

She was married, which happened in the second year of her Course. He was not working here then. He joined here just five months back, on the 20th of September. Now she was in the third.

“Hey, Cool. Take it easy. It is OK. Even if some sort of crush has happened, it is quite natural. You should not be confused. Be clear about what you do. You can still share this with your husband, I think. He is really a cool person. He let you continue with your studies even after getting married. He did not ask you to sit back at home, be a homemaker, which is the lot for most people after marriage during their student life; at least here, in Kerala. And don’t forget you are a Keralite. Though some of your classmates are from other parts of the world, you are a Keralite. And that means something.” He tried to smile. But she did not. She was listening intently.

“He is really a cool husband, isn’t he?” He repeated to fill the chasm of silence. She did not say anything.
She was listening intently.
He felt extremely uncomfortable. This is what I felt whenever any student listens to me intently, he thought for a moment. He felt being pressed under the unbearable weight of responsibility. He was a teacher; someone supposed to deliver the truth, a reference.

“Where is he working?”

“He is a company secretary, working in the United States of America. He wants me to be there with him soon. Not just him, but all the two families want me to go, to shift to America, New York, where he has an apartment. But I want to do my Masters here. And I cannot forget that man…I mean…I mean my love. I will be a sinner if I go back to my husband and start living with him.” 

She is right, if she is saying the truth, he thought. She would betray two; herself and her husband. He had a feeling that the person she loved was not informed of her affection, yet. She is a wise girl, he thought, she might not have told him. 

“Hey, I think you should go back to your husband, da.” He had to speak again, and this time to shift his mind from a smile that settled in the right corner of her lips, which threatened him with a ‘do you know who that person I am in love with is?’

This thing, this writing gets autobiographical sometimes. No writer can write anything other than himself. But now, in my writer’s block I found autobiographical sketches, with a first person replaced by a third person masculine pronoun, a very effective method to come up with a smooth story, though with no lack of shortcomings.

She was listening intently. Silence—with the excruciating pain of the infernal fire. And it hurt somewhere in his consciousness.

Suddenly, her lips opened, they pursed and blurted out: “I love you.”

The act was played, the gesture was made.
“Is it wrong to fall in love?”

“It’s no one’s mistake. It just happens, sir,” she was saying. He stood in a void, deaf, as if every sliver of voice was sucked out of his ears.

What happened was outside his understanding of the world and control. And he knew no way out. So he felt good in playing deaf as if hadn’t heard the ‘no one’s mistake’.

He asked: “What did you say? Your husband works in America as a company secretary? That is GREAT. I was looking for a copywriter’s job. I know I am asking for a favour. But…can you enquire your husband about posts of a copy writer in his company? You know what a copy writer is, right? Someone, who creates magic out of words,” 



Happy Valentine's Day, friends. I hope you enjoyed my Valentine's Day story. This story is for all those people out there who are afraid to fall in love and follow the magical experiences love offers.
Anu.

As I announced in the previous post, the winners of the Stylish Blogger award are: 


CONGRATS winners!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Guidelines and Rules

I have been awarded with a Stylish Blogger award by Neeha, as I informed in the previous post. I once again thank Neeha for considering me apt for this recognition. This is the first time I am receiving this award. There are certain guidelines and rules one should follow after receiving this award, as I learnt from her blog. Any way, I have broken one of them just now—the first rule. That is expressing gratitude and linking back to the person who gives you the award. I did it, too, not just once, but twice.

The second rule is to share seven things about you. Well, it seems to be a difficult task for me. I am a failure to conceive myself as an intellectual entity. I sometimes stand inside the intellectual boundary but sometimes go outside it. It is difficult to talk about me. Whenever such situations arise, I have an idea. I urge others, people related to me, to talk about me. The intention is very simple. People around me will know me much better than I myself. But still, considering the guidelines, I succumb to the rule of the game. And considering my difficulty, I have decided to copy and paste the seven truths about myself that I published in one of my previous posts for the purpose of a similar occasion. Here they are:

         1. I am working as a lecturer. But, I am a writer in my deeds, thoughts, dreams, and each pulse of my heart.

2. I am love, wrapped in a cloak of invisibility, still wanting to be acknowledged.

3. Though my people do not understand me, always keep a blind eye towards my dreams, thoughts and personal likes—because they want me to be like them; think like them, live like them, successful like them; and they do all this out of the 
immensity of their love towards me—hopelessly, often painfully, I understand them. 

4. I am open to criticisms, not until I forget them, at least partially. I still dislike hypocrisy. And I do not know how to say no. 

5. I believe in God and in His Son, Jesus, and I believe this too that each moment I work, I worship.

6. I am an Indian, but not a Hindu, not a Christian or a Muslim. I am a writer.

7. I love privacy and most of the times enjoy loneliness. But sometimes the latter conquers me. 

The third criterion is sharing the award with 15 recently discovered great bloggers. She stresses “recently”. Among the people I have decided as the winners, some are recent in my blog, like months, but some are from years of acquaintance and friendship, like two years. Well, two years are not that distant, is it?  So here are the winners:

Be Happy      

The list is not complete. I have made a change here. I am not publishing the winners all in one post, instead I have decided to publish the name and link of the rest of the winners in the upcoming posts, along with my short fiction series "The Days that are No More"--one by one.

The fourth law is to contact the winners and tell them about their awards. That is what I am going to do just now. Off I go.
I hope you will wait for the next winner announcements in the coming posts.
Much love,
Anu.

PS: "The Days that are No More" will continue in the next post. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Award

The Days that are No More--1


This is the story of a poet, who on a fine morning finds his muse eloped with a Misty Confusion. As a result he succumbs to an unimaginable stress and pressures himself to think the whole need to continue his life.

It was a time when his country was ruled by the British, and it was his ‘duty’ every Sunday evening to meet the assemblage in the General’s office to appease the officers with the magic of his poetry. There was even a saying about him that without listening to his poetry, the whole of the army base would perish in the crudeness of the reality and it was his poems that kept them alive.

In return the British had a pact with the poet. He was asked to attend the Sunday evening grand get-together with his poems and entertain the officers present; failing to achieve which he would lose his claim upon his own life.

He was more afraid of a life that he would be living without his muse, which was a part of his soul, his only intention to prolong a lonely life, than death. Anyway, he decided to meet the gathering, and gathered some of the old poems he had written. He went through them roughly. They were five. After hovering through them, he found it hard not to re-read them, so he read them all again, carefully; then dissatisfied, he perused them once again and each time something shocked him about the poems—they were the worst of all he could ever had imagined.

The poems in his hand included three of those, which he thought were his best. But the concurrent development was more than what he could expect from the best works of his. He was breaking down. There was nothing that could hold him together, not even the desire to live. He put the poems in a bag and started off in the way of the British General’s Office, this time with certain indifference and perhaps a deep desire to be the silent victim of the English Generals’ wrath, and die, for destroying their evening with those worthless pieces of paper.

He reached the General’s office. There was a huge assemblage waiting for the poet, an honour no one among his natives shared. But he felt less embarrassed that day contrary to what he felt during all his usual visits. He started reading his poems, sure that they will not help prolonging his life any more than he desired. There was no need for this life, which is locked inside an eternal prison called—the absence of his muse.

He finished reading his poems. There was as long silence; a pause, which was the certainty that something bad was going to happen. The general stood up. He joined his hands in a clap. It was followed by another, then another, and soon the whole event was transformed into a harmony that savoured the clap sounds. It was as if the whole air was going to burst out with excitement. The poet stood aghast. He tried hard to get an idea of what was happening. There was not a single clue. He was sure of total lost. He stood indifferent.

The general approached him. He took out a wallet from his pocket. That was money. The story ends here. The General’s gesture and the excitement of the crowd after listening to the poems were indicative of how successful the event for the poet was. The General rewarded the poet with money, and apologized for not being able to properly reward the poet for his fascinating works of art along with an honorary place near his seat in the grand banquet that followed the event.

The poet was under writer’s block. This is exactly what happens when you are in a block, you feel your muse, or your creative angel is gone and will never come back. You feel yourself trapped more when it seems impossible to identify yourself with the past that you lived and cherished as something brighter. But as the poet in the story sometimes a miracle happens and it rescues you from the verge of self destruction.

I too am awarded recently, and this story, though is a part of the new series titled: The Days that are No More, is a gift to Neeha who awarded me with The Stylish Blogger award, mostly to make her and others understand how I felt myself undeserving for any such honours at the moment. May be due to the writer’s block. That was the reason why I delayed this post this much. Thank you Neeha.  There are certain conditions that any of the bloggers who are awarded with this particular award are supposed to follow. The directions are available in Neeha’s Blog. I am planning to make another post following the directions and for announcing a winner.  
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