Wednesday, 24 October 2012

If I Live

    A few house sparrows have settled near my feet. I wonder what I would look like to someone who passes by. But no one usually comes this way.  I am sitting on a damaged concrete bench near an abandoned train station. Eyes fixed to my old Notebook’s screen, fingers moving undecidedly over alphabets that try to be truthful to what the constellation of neurons signal to my system.  
     Me and my Notebook, against the dust particles that fly and fall down on my shoes. We are denied free will, even of the transitory nature. We obey commands, the existence of which we don’t even realize at times. We try to be smart but make a mess of everything by our uninformed inventiveness. We rebel occasionally, only in attempts to get rid of that which we think invade us.
     The bench carries the weight of a man’s thoughts and a machine’s heat. The man out of Dionysian dreams about to plunge into some unknown sphere of existence. The machine with its helpless Apollonian rationality about to witness, and play a significant part in, what follows. Nature keeps a knowing, watchful eye.
     What if I fail?
     Despite all the systematic preparations, I can loose my life in this attempt. That would defeat the purpose of my perseverance. What I need to gain is life, with certain things altered.
     It is not easy to be alone in a quest for identity, when the meaning itself of identity has been ripped off by essentialists. My friend who studied in some big Western university thinks these are the golden times of communities. He thinks there cannot be anyone left out with individual existential angst. When he saw me reading Kafka once, he laughed at the anachronism of a Third World citizen stuck in the drainpipes of European thoughts at the wake of Twenty First Century. He thought Gregor Samsa, a.k.a. Kafka, might be howling slogans in a Gay Parade or dancing in a nightclub if he lived to see this world. How can he waste his time having apple-fights with his father and crying over his ‘metamorphosis’ behind a closed door? Try to imagine the guy in a Marilyn Monroe wig dancing to deejayed hiphop, and you will lose your appetite for grim books, he said.
     I was silenced. I wanted to tell him that I would be happier with less, not more. But he wouldn’t have understood a word of what I had to say, lost in his newly-found all-knowing stupidity. His teenage wisdom told him that the art of life was to learn to live with, and make the most of, what we had in us.
     I know that in a few minutes, others would think of me as a real fool. I need to roll up the right trouser leg. I need it to live with me, so I will roll it up just above my knee where I had tied some cloth tightly, just in case. My message might have reached the doctor by now, and he will come soon after the train passes by. But I am being cautious. I am almost sure that I will pass out, and I need to avoid fatal blood loss.
     I am a bit worried about losing the part of leg I need, and of losing life as well, but the good doctor had explained a few things to me and showed me the way I have to keep the leg on the track. He knows the exact part from where I need to loose it, and he can look after that once I become his patient legally.
     It was very kind of him. I was really surprised that he understood me. But he is the one who made full use of his years around the world. I respect him for his discerning mind which recognizes human misery. He thinks beyond stereotyped identity crises, and believes in the individual’s right to choose the life he needs. I choose life without my right leg from just above the knee.
     I can imagine the initial hardships and financial constraints. Not to talk of social stigma, though the fools will never know why I put my leg under a speeding train. Despite all that, I can foresee my happiness if I succeed in this attempt. An end to my agony that was beyond any analyst or therapist. A pragmatic solution to the darkness that took birth with me in the form of an unwanted limb. It won’t be heaven, but I know that it would be a lesser hell for me.
     I don’t think much of the invented new-age categories – Devotees, Amputees, Wannabees… I am going live in a society which hasn’t heard of apotemnophilia, of amputees by choice. I do not wish to partake in any of the thoughtless exploitation of mutual feelings through community building.
     I hear a vibration over the rail-track that resonates with my senses swollen in anticipation.   
     The bums who could not even find a tree branch strong enough to hang themselves…The semi-crack who waited for death lying on a rail track as the train passed through some other track…A  few people who tore off their genital organs in religious frenzy and threw them in the air…An old man who dreamt of an orgy before starting a trip of life and death in search of a boy his grandson’s age…
     My resolve is not a fragile branch of tree. There is only one rail track in front of me. I am not misguided by mob psychology. I am not an old man in his death bed, tormented by late realizations.
     My search for difference, a rare identity, leads me here. Sometimes, I feel like a character out of my stories.
     Either way, this act serves a purpose. It proves something. It brings some change to an eventless life. I will shut down the Notebook now, keep it safe here and get up.

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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Our Music

You have to close your eyes and forget us. You just need to remember the music. The music I created for you. No, that is a big claim. I didn't create it. It found me, stayed within me for a while and came out as music. I knew that it was foolish to chase it again, because everything that we needed was in the music that transformed me.

You should stop looking at my pictures with those sad eyes. I was just the medium. What has to last forever is with you now. It doesn't matter that I am not there now, that I am gone. Forever. Why do you try to hurt yourself every time you think about me? Why don't you just slip away from the thin film of memory that binds our lost moments of existence? Listen to me. It was not meant to be this way. We were not meant to be...

But you have the music now. I haven't lost it either. I have more of it in fact now, and I feel sad that I couldn't leave them all for you. But this one piece that you can listen to and become one with is that which will liberate you. Trust me. Close your eyes. Just believe that I was the medium through which something so beautiful was sent to you. Wipe your tears, and sing. Let the world know what you have within you. Let your voice be a part of the music. Let you be another medium. Let our song survive.


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Monday, 8 October 2012

Stairway To Life

Since we have decided to explore everything about my past, it doesn't make any sense to just stand here. We need to climb. Climb these stairs. Yes, they are about to fall apart, but they won't. Come, let's climb these steps one by one.

The room on the top is well lit. I mean, it used to be so. That was mine. Mine alone. I was the emperor, and my twin soldiers were at times arranged on the floor in such way that they stood guard on me. They were cold, and useless. Just pieces of metal. But they meant much more to me those days. They were special, and strong, and loyal, and alive, in my imagination.

I used to sit in that corner many times. That was when I felt alone. All by myself, all alone, in this small room. And no one knew that. They thought I was playing, or reading all the time. But can one do that all the time? There are long breaks from the play, from the reading. And it was the toughest to deal with those breaks.

I had my books. And my toys. Not just the tin soldiers. All kinds of toys. My Dad was keen on that, though he had a bad life for himself. He needed me to grow a healthy boy.  Despite the backgrounds.

He had many enemies. He did bad jobs. The kind people do with guns and all. And they came for him one day. I heard gun shots while I was negotiating a break from the play and the reading.

There were so many of them. And there was blood all over the floor and on the walls when they left. There were screams too, which died fast. My mother ran through those steps. Yes, the very steps that we climbed now. Was she coming to me? But she was shot on her way, and lay dead on one of those steps. Perhaps that stopped them from climbing up. Or they just god tired of killing.

There were so many dead bodies on the floor. My Dad, my sister, two brothers, two aunts. They spared me. And my books. And my tin soldiers. And my little corner and bits of silent despair.

Well that's me. That's what made me. That explains my silences. I was too weak to retaliate. I just got on with life... with what was left to me, though that was not much. I survived. And I don't own a gun. But I am troubled. See if you can stand me, with those troubles. Or just leave. Climb down those steps. One by one.


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We Recommend: Rohinton Mistry’s Squatter

My Review of Rohinton Mistry's short story 'Squatter', published in Thresholds: Home of the International Short Story Forum, Chichester University, UK.
Please do click the link below:
We Recommend: Rohinton Mistry’s Squatter