Monday, August 30, 2004

She, the sparrow

She did not want to be a fairy. Fairytales are always partial to the good. The only one she likes is where one has to kiss a million frogs. That approximates life, which really is an endless stream of chimerical frog-kissing. The value of the prince is in his non-existence: if one gets the prince, he decides to go after the next one. So, in general, she hated fairytales where people lived happily ever after. She, rather, longed to be the little bird that lived and died for the oher prince - the Happy Prince.

And now that she was flying, she became the bird. The little sparrow. She does not attract attention. So she can live life on its own terms. No obligation to sing, or to look good. Or to soar into powerful countries’ national anthems. All she cares about is building a little nest, caring for the little ones, flying to get them food, flying to teach them to fly, flying to live in the moment. The only way one could escape the frog-kissing routine was to see the world from a distance. To fly high.

Monday, August 23, 2004

The redemption

As soon as he is done posting, an emptiness hits him. So long, the vision was his, very intimately, very secretly, his own. Now that he had translated it in words and laid it bare in front of the world, he has nothing to cling to. He feels naked. God! She is on the internet! The world can now peer into him. He cringes. He feels powerless. She is no longer his captive – she has slipped out into the open. This is what unbridled, irrational hope does to you! And then his impudent hope has the gall to sermonise to him – everything has a purpose! Not knowing what to do, he does the only thing a mother knows to avoid postnatal depression – commit all her being to the newborn.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

The story begins

He knows that he has to distinguish between the act and the vision, but he can’t . The vision is his and his alone, he can turn it over, rewind it, fast-forward it, replay it. But the act belongs to a different time and a different person. Being human, his immediate desire is to possess what is just eluding him – that again is another human drive that has built five thousand years of civilization, with its markets, monuments and institutions. (Immediate corollary, history is a continuous chain of small incremental changes, and not a link of quantum jumps.) In this case, he is not happy with the image; he wants to seize the reality which is projected in that moment. This is how he peels the onion, by defining every next stage of the wild goose chase as “reality”.

That translates into his desperate need to find this woman, although he is not sure what he does then. (Ha, the prodigality of search!) The difficulty is that he never saw her again. He has tried it all. He asked those who tend the café, those who patronise it, those who sit and sip, those who come only to idle away or to show off their latest find in Amazon, he visited the café everyday, but she seemed to have had materialised only for him, and only for that moment. I guess any intelligent non-human being would have found in that a sense of finality, and even a sort of happy, though mystic, ending. But he, being intensely and fatally human, saw a beginning instead. He decided to create her.

Thus started his story. Rather, her story. He doesn’t have much time, you see. Besides, he loves freedom. And variety. And possibilities. So he creates her bit by bit. He sits on the computer everyday for a short while, and gives colour to his passion. She changes everyday, as he does. She grows, as he does. She comes to life through him, and he tastes life through her. But then, wasn’t she his secret life? Why the hell does he put her up on the internet?

Hope-against-hope, in its doomed struggle against rationality, always uses devious means.

The Right. The left. Swing. One-Two-Three....To the right. To the left. Then one, then two. Then again. Hands outstretched. She loses her hands. The right. The left. The feet forget to touch the ground. Higher...higher. Her name recedes into sweet oblivion. Everybody watches. She slowly forgets that. She is suddenly frightened that she is losing it all. All that she has built over the years. What the heck, she thinks. Thankgod that she can still think at all with the cadence going lub..dup...lub...dup...inside her being. Her life sinks into the vortex - her groceries, her bank account, her profession, her identity, her secrets, her fairytales, her thoughts, her unborn words, her longings, her cravings, all scooped out of her. She stops existing. She grows into someone far, far away and spreads her wings in the open blue...

And his hope-against-hope, the stubborn, the wily, knows that someone far away is reading this as she dances away into the darkness.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

The fixed point

What is sacred, he asks. Fixed points, probably. The Absolute zero, say. Some axioms he can anchor his thoughts on, that tell him that he is, that distinguish his self from his perceptions. Without acknowledging it to himself, he has always been somewhat suspicious of “truth”. But he has been all too aware of the dangers of ending up in madland in his attempts to escape the thrall of perception. On top, he was never sure that there are any fixed points. But there was this whining, nagging, difficult otherness in him that defined sense in a different sense. It insists that truth, or what seems, can be peeled like an onion to search for fixed points or sacredness or purity or whatever, and in that journey (certainly futile, because there is no inside of an onion) lies a lot of fun. But maybe there is an asylum inside an onion? And here his normal self deliberately intends the pun, despite knowing jolly well that the pun is the lowest form of humour.

If you are confused, you follow your instincts. After five thousand years of civilization, our primary instinct is carnal – all that our history has done is rationalize it with knowledge, embellish it with frills and institutionalise it with norms. (Thankfully!) Therefore, when he, with all his selves, his confusion, his non-American values, his American experience, his five thousand years of history weighing down upon his axioms, walked into the café, it did not strike him as odd that he found what he thought was his moment of truth in a woman lighting a cigarette.

Monday, August 02, 2004

The vision

He had never written prose before. No, that’s not true. No prose that was personal in essence. It just did not gel with his lifestyle. Prose requires too long a span of commitment, and he had had too many demands on his time. Too many women to think about. Too many books to contemplate reading. Wife. Work. Friends. Too many angry, jealous-of-each-other Gods to pacify. But primarily, too many women. Besides, in the non-America where he grew up, it was customary to shroud one’s personal emotions in the delicate vagueness of poesy. Poetry has its advantages. The act of commission does not place too much demand on his time. And, he does not need to invoke a name for the girl.

He was not sure whether it was the café or his age or his changed circumstances (new profession, new country) that seemed to force him to document his wisdom (newfound, American) in turgid sentences of prose. The first day it happened, he was caught unawares, so to say. Prose-writing had long been in that long list of sacred wishes which he did not want to molest by fulfilment. But when the girl in the dark corner lit up, he saw a brutally direct, hard-hitting sensuality in the folds between her eyebrows which shook him like it was a tremor, and he had this almost biological urge to hold the moment, not to let go, and he knew that the only way to do that was to write it verbatim, undistorted, pure.