The Weight of Storytelling

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It is a scary thought to be wanting to write a story. Before you settle with that intention it gets clear to you that your characters are realer than you take them for. I feel they will be amused, happy, offended, hurt, sad, angry by what we think about them outside their story. Outside the two covers of the book. Characters become that loudly alive once you have brought them to life.

Now when you have to tell their tragedies, their endeavors and simply their tale, the biggest judge will always be on your shoulder looking at how you are weaving the story for others — the characters them-self. It sounds a little insensitive to even call them, or her, a character. Let’s call her Evi.

Dealing with her story is as bigger a responsibility as dealing with a real person’s story. A constant fear nags me that I will not be able to do justice with her story due to my poor writing skills. It makes you skip a heartbeat to imagine if she wished she was born in a more delicate storyteller’s mind. That will hurt, just like how it will hurt a parent who is incapable of fulfilling the desires of their ward. All Evi wishes is her story to be told as beautifully and memorably as it could be.

Once you start typing with your trembling fingers, with a constant sensation of her eyes on every word you scribe, you do not stop. I have come to realize that a story never really ends. It just comes to a point when you choose to stop writing. But once you have chosen to stop writing, the next is far tougher than actually writing it. The next step is to set it out for it to be read. Till now, however the story was, it stayed between you and Evi herself. Now there is a responsibility on your shoulders. How the readers receive the story will be what Evi will be left feeling, and conversely you. Her sorrow or joy will determine how great were you able to do justice to her, and her story.

That was why you never really want to set it out amongst the ocean of other books. You want to carve it as finely as you can, for as long as you can until every freckle of error has been rectified and turned into a perfect piece of art. It is, however, doubtful if a story can ever be carved into its best shape. There will always be at least one sentence that could have been crafted far more beautifully than it is now. It is a scary thought in itself to think of writers who pick up their books, and at one sentence they irk, realizing it could have been better some other way. The chance to rewrite it is gone.

Well, may we be able to do justice to words, and to stories.

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A Ride From The Past II

After a long period of months I have the sequel to the first part of this blog series. It was so poetic that I could sum up all of it in a single line.

Sabh moh maaya hai. Period.

On a serious note, love is really a beautiful thing. The sadder part is that we let it turn into a crippling force.

Withering Away

grandmother

For the most part of our lives, we are constantly engaged in some sort of chaos. There are very few moments of stillness in our hands where we can absorb whatever is happening around. Two lives pass through each other like two trains running in opposite directions, too fast to see what is going on in the other’s cabin.

Memories, however, always seem to unfold in slow motion whenever we peak in the past. There is an extra sensitivity and consciousness towards the passing of time in some of us. Sometimes, in any moment I would snap back myself in thoughts about how this very moment will be added in the timeline of memories after a long while from now. Remembering, is the only way we know to preserve the past and not let it dissipate into nothingness. Life, the greatest thing there to behold every meaning to everything, itself is transient.

One summer vacation at home, I was sitting beside mum and grandma surrounding a heater with a tea pot over it. It was that hour of work-less-ness before night, just after darkness has taken over the day; the moment when all the birds return to their homes. Every one to stay the night were coming in one by one, the kids heavily dressed in layers of sand and dust and leaving again. Me, I was in the stillness of being at home sitting beside them, talking shortly and freely without any discussion. If you notice, there is this very short state of confusion when the day has just elapsed and the night has just dawned. In this confusion one likes to just sit and let the night completely spread to begin with things to do. Our moment was just that. At this point, I was lying by their side, with my head on grandma’s lap and watching mother do some chores. I twisted a little to look up and saw her face; an old lady lost in some deep thoughts, her palm gently brushing from my hairs to my cheek. We were all quiet for some time, there wasn’t anything to be said. She was lost in a thought of her own from almost an eighty years of life. I realize that it would be impossible for anyone to strike a close guess about what she was wondering. It could have been anything about tomorrow, or about all the deep unending yesterdays she has lived. There were no strains of worry on her face, it certainly was nothing unpleasant, neither anything overwhelming. Just a thought, just a memory.

The picturesque moment I was lost in seemed to last so long. My eyes had softly rested on her. I was reading her face like an old painting, trying to draw out meanings from the wrinkles that seemed like brushstrokes of an experienced artist. There are stories behind this painting, and no one shall hear it once she is gone. Death silently sits on the shoulders of old age like a falcon. Along with withering away of this painting, a part of so many of us will wither away too, because she carries our stories too. I have been walked around so much carried on her shoulder when I was tooth-aching child crying inconsolably. It was heavy to realise that someone made of so many stories must disappear in the air just like that. Given the silent corner of everyone’s lives she takes; it will be a silent moment of loss. At that age, one does not demand love, they are accustomed to absorbing every feeling silently, without complaints. The bones must feel tired to handle any emotional strain at that tender age. However, for me, I will feel like a piece of my universe has been taken away with her. Currently, there is not much I can do to prolong our proximity. We take part in such a race of life where there is no going ahead without leaving something behind. I see her, walking away on a road, disappearing slowly in the fog, fading away from existence, to reveal nothingness once the fog subsides. Gone, just like that.

I paused in the moment, trying to absorb it all in my skin that it may never dissipate away as long as I live, for as long as I needed it. All my focus shifted from everywhere else to the universe between the touch of her fingers and my skin.

There are scriptures embarked on my skin were she has touched.

The Lost Home

The places where I lived my childhood do not seem the same when I reappeared there after a decade or so. They seem shrunken. As if silencing the forever echoing cries of my childhood, they were eaten from inside by the sadness that looms in the air. As if lifting and soothing the child fallen on ground, they were bent on their knees. As if the uncertainty of my arrival made them weak, like old parents feel for their prodigal son.

The places where I played are not deserted either. They are busy, with the children of time. I remember doing the same as I look at them, rather better.
And I walk past them. I am a man, I cannot roll on the sand anymore. I cannot punch on those heaps of earth.
I walk straight, dragging the child in me behind.

Mumtaz Hussain.

(I visited my childhood place after almost a decade in April, 2016. This is just a glimpse of what I went through.)

It is an unabridged edition of a facebook note i wrote under heavy influence of nostalgia after returning from home. Summoning it here along other writings, not changing a single word. Written in May 2016.

 

Let go

let go, of these hands

“Let go”

I uttered nearly choking to the words as she held me tight in her arms, wiping her tears time and again with the sleeves of her free hand.

“I will return soon”, escaped from my mouth, and that was all I could provide to comfort her.

Tapping her back gently, I slowly parted myself away from her embrace and stepped away.

She turned around to hide her tears as I stepped back, but held onto my fingers in a strange grasp that radiated the intensity of her ache in this separation.

I stepped away from her, dragging my heavy chest and gulping the dry throat.

And she broke out in sobs in the distance.

I drove away without having had to look at her face again for once. Perhaps that was what evoked an emptiness somewhere, missing that last glance.

And I went away on a journey which held no certainty of bringing us back together the same.

I squeezed my eyes shut, which have been hurting trying to hold back the torrents of tears behind its walls all along.

A universe happened in that moment. 

Another memory embarked on the trunk of time, with the sharpness of her tears and the stings in my heart.

A Ride From The Past

Here they are sitting, together in a taxi driving them to their respective homes. Him, a child who happens to be an introvert of a kind. A chaos of thoughts in his mind, but only silence on his lips and words claded with hesitation coming out of his mouth.

Her, not much to tell about.

Amongst the chaos of his mind, one thought is of her. A mild amusement for her, even though he hasn’t seen her face. He still does not recognise any face when he thinks of her. A soul that feeds upon his imaginations; and then of course, a soul who suffers in reality.

Of her, there is still not much to tell. It is yet a one sided story. Were there any emotions emitting out of her, nobody knows. Could it not be a one sided tale as is believed till date, nobody could answer.

They have the outside worlds to look upon through the windows they were sitting by. Distancing them were her sister, a mature lady living a life of her own and perhaps engaged in her own thoughts, far away from this sphere of her presence. A white little mouse curled up into her lap, finding comfort in the cozyness, away from the coldness of a winter night. A mouse that will become a very good friend of him. The mouse that will eventually die falling off a roof. A mouse that’d make one of his homecomings unpleasant with his absence.
The journey proceeds, and with that his thoughts wander to far away places, escaping from her for some moment. She does not make any movement or sound that’d make him look at her, and it is dark too so he cannot see her at all. He only feels her, mildly and far away from any possible reality.

He is mildly attracted of her. Does he desire her? Nobody knows, not even himself. Would he wish her to be his? He is, for that matter, too weak to handle another person as his own. An introvert fighting with himself is too delicate to be handed over with someone, or rather handed to someone. And he knows it, he knows it all and hence he distances himself.

He admires what amuses him like how a traveller would look upon the beauty he would come across his journey.  Moving on, with his eyes and his conscience laden to rest for a while; as far as the horizon lives in his sight.

He steps down near to where he lives. They are driven away from him, and he walks away from them, from her. The dark alley to his place gives him the apt atmosphere for his thoughts to come out in freedom, and take him over.

In the distance, what was she thinking while they drove away, nobody knows.

And she certainly does not know, the same boy who had just departed would be someone with whom she’d fall in love with. Almost a decade later.

And him, today he gazes through the past and into that taxi, and he smiles at how the universe has conformed and conspired to bring her close to him, perhaps to make him realise his subtle desire.

While the universe is still being chiseled to cut the distance from closeness to togetherness, that weakness and the delicateness still hasn’t subsided much for me to possess her.

There are fears that sorround my heart like clouds that float in uncertain skies. Fears that hesitates my heart from pouring down, fears of uncertainty. 

Falling in love is worth a heartbreak, and I’m not afraid of the latter; it is the falling and the fear of not being caught that puts this heart into an anticipated uneasiness.

Love is supposed to be easy, it is the fusion of two souls to become one that faces all the restrains.

Echoes of the Past

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Greetings from the past.

Every moment from the past is far less important for me than the labour of time, which has carved me from what I was then to what I am now. The artistry of the unknown artist is measured by how deeply is beauty and art embedded in our veins, for the light that illuminates the darkness outside glows from within. It dulls, it shines.
Of how much is it on us to shine preciously, Rumi says well, you are the carpenter of your own soul. Some men choose to age like wine, only better and alive.

Growing old enriches the flavour of a man’s words and his ideas. Ageing has to be embraced, but what we forsake in the past is too precious to be left behind, and perhaps nostalgia is the echo of all those calling us back for an embrace.
And when it comes to old photographs, I guess there isn’t too much to tell.