Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Story Clip #1: Raman

Raman, everyone is so proud of him, except himself. His mother tells relatives he earns plenty that he could buy a house within another year. His father tells friends that his son is ‘settled comfortably' in a rewarding job. House, car, marriage – plans, plans, and plans they made for him. But, Raman is tired even to feel proud anymore. The attraction has withered away. It is yet another Tuesday in Raman's life, a year after he wore the illusorily shining badge called 'software engineer'. He writes ten lines in the morning and stares at it all of the evening. And still he cannot break through. The brain that topped the class in the final exams doesn't help find that one bug that refuses to let the program run. The boss sends a stinker of an email demanding an explanation and accusing him of being slow. Not again, he broods. The confidence curve falls flat and enthusiasm levels dip. Do I have to do and see this all my life? Can't I ever make mistakes? he thinks. Raman shuts the application and walks out of the office, past the manager who summoned him for an explanation. Indifference for a day, to make up for the peace of mind and smile lost for a while now.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Maya's story

“And I scratched and scratched the page with the fine nib of a treasured parker, spurting out black ink, like the oozing blood of a devilish thought, springing out of a wounded ego. How else could I extinguish the roaring flames of anger? The page tore open like a deadly crevice. I ran around like a mad man pulling down all that fell in my line of sight – curtains, table covers; I took the umbrella, poked the bed and the pillows, with its tapering end. Fury and pain wrenched my heart. I had become a loner, in a world full of pretending well wishers, a world without Hanna.”

Maya switched off the monitor and stared wide eyed into the empty space ahead of her. Her hands trembled a little. It was a fiery face of Professor Malcolm that she hadn’t seen thus far, given the six months of personal interaction that she had had with him – in her mind.

She wasn’t sure about that line, she had typed – “oozing blood of a devilish thought, springing out of a wounded ego.” She opened the document, deleted the line and began typing again. “;olr n;ppf ppxomh pgy pg s epimfrf jrsty” she keyed without looking at the screen. Shit, she thought, staring at the train of red underlines that the software had left, like a school teacher who thrilled at striking down everything with that dreadful red ink. Why can’t this damned MS Word convert it to what I want? She felt like suing the software for its supposed inadequacy. Her finger rested lazily on the backspace key till it deleted the unintelligible stuff that she had just then entered. “like blood oozing out of a wounded heart, “ she corrected and sighed deeply.

She could sigh by all means, for she didn’t know where her dream was heading to. Every letter, every word, every sentence, every paragraph, and every page that made sense to the machine as only indecipherable bits and bytes were the building blocks to the vision she was giving shape.

Maya had grown up reading every name board on the road. Even as the bus or scooter or auto she was moving in advanced faster than her letters/second, she craned her neck to finish the name down. “Lakshmi Tea Stall” “Connections BookPoint” and everything else. Sometimes, she had the feeling that the name of a shop didn’t fit its appearance. Such beautiful names for those ugly faced tea shops, she would grumble under her breath.

And, when she grew a little older, she loved assigning names to strangers. May be that girl would be called Rachna – that cute face with two pony tails would be complete only with that name. Swarnamukhi, for the dancer, her friend’s neighbour; Akshay, for the guy who was seen driving the Enfield everyday outside her house; after all, it was her own world of imagination, and people here could assume names that she wished to give them!

Her love at sixteen was books. Papa and Mama had no trouble finding gifts for her. They knew she would smile the widest at the sight of a bookstore. Maya literally fed on books, relished a different taste out of the many writers. Archer was like espresso coffee while Narayan was like a chocolate that slowly melted away, leaving behind that lingering sweetness in one’s mouth. Hesse was like a tastefully prepared filter coffee, an enriching philosophical experience that left one relishing it even after the act was complete. Austen and Dickens were like classic hot chocolate, Woolf was a dense dry fruit milk shake – you had to stop once in few minutes to munch those nuts – those powerful nuggets that gave the dash of splendor to her work. Hardy was bitter chocolate. What would hers be? Maya wondered.

Maya equated writing to love, simply and best put. She absolutely loved it. Stories were her passion. She wanted her words to be the window to a world she created. The characters in her story would be thoughts that danced to the tune of her creative forces – but sometimes they were not puppets. They shaped to something beyond her control sometimes bringing a smile and sometimes making her scratch the whole thing down. Each word was a revelation. Writing was to her, as music was to a singer and dance to a performer.

There was a man who wanted to sell his soul. She found him creepy. There was another who was willing to buy it. She found him loony. And what about those people who wore all that heavy makeup and chatted nonsense? She found them to be a rather strange breed of people. Did the others know about them? After all, they all lived in her paper world. She would let others see them, through her novel. She would tell them things that they knew well but never consciously realized. She would make them nod in childish delight (one arising out of discovering matters, all over again!) at what she told them.

Dreams, she had plenty of them. Like reading out excerpts from her novel to a group, autographing copies to a mad audience, for instance. She even wanted to do a workshop telling aspiring ‘kids’ (she would have moved out of the block then!) how to write. She would clip all reviews for her book together and read them at leisure. She would try correcting herself and scorn at a mindless review. Plenty of them, her dreams; But, she had fifteen more chapters to go and a publisher to find! Talk about literary dreams and aspirations! Would Maya make it? I am clueless, actually! :)