Dance

I dance in ecstasy, I dance in pain,
I dance in fear, sometimes in vain.
I dance for knowledge, I dance for gain,
I dance for release, often for restraint.
I dance to remember, I dance to forget,
I dance to awake, awaken the dead.
I dance in creation, I dance in narration,
I dance in elation, for no occassion.
Dance is for the world, for the world to see, Dance is mine, Dance is me.

Character

A quiet night. Cold, cold fingers moving swiftly against the keyboard. Characters, scenes, plots swirl around the head, materialising and vanishing just like the words on the screen. Nothing feels right. Everything is misty.

How does a character get created? I see a shadow of a person sitting next to me at the table, without a chair. I nudge. I don’t know if it is a him or her. But suddenly, I feel a swish of nearly invisible hair. It is a girl. Smiling vaguely, lost, empty. As though without any thoughts. I look at her for a while. Then I realise. This is the woman I’ve been writing. Empty and lost. Thoughtless, for I haven’t put any thoughts. But shouldn’t characters have thoughts for themselves? I suppose you have to start them off first, though.

Let’s see. What do we put first? A childhood memory, perhaps. Playing with a toy. Maybe it breaks, maybe she cries. Maybe she feels betrayed by the friend she thought she had in that toy. Sad.

I look up at her. She seems to be more real now. She is cradling something in her hands. I ask her to show it. It is the broken pieces of the toy.

The story is beginning.

Drown

Scene change. Dissolve. Cut to. Fade in.

The world crumbles around me. Walls are built, broken down, lamps shine and flicker in the light and darkness, people materialise, emotions surge and disappear. Things change in the blink of an eye. I do what I’m told. I enter doors, exit lives, all in a matter of a second.

Sometimes, I don’t like it. This person seems interesting. Why can’t I speak to him longer? But I wonder if he is being directed by the quill, too. What would he do without the quill? He seems nice enough.

Maybe I should say something. ‘Hello?’ The quill stops scratching furiously. I’m dumbstruck, I didn’t really expect it to stop. I splutter bits of un-dried ink from the page. I hadn’t thought this through.

The quill looms over me ominously. I try to say something quickly before it comes back down on me again. But I find I can’t speak. I have no words in my mouth. I have no words in my mind. I feel what I want to say, but I can’t find a way to say it.

Then it dawns on me. I can’t speak unless I have the words in me. The words that come from the quill, the words that it wants me to say. Words that I have no control over, actions that I cannot stop. I can feel what I am feeling. But I can say only what I am made do.

It all makes sense. But I still drown.

Moving On

Everything comes to an end. The good, the bad, the ugly. Everything has a shelf life. Whether you like it or not. Friendships, relationships, love, life. Nothing can prepare you for it. It comes out of nowhere and hits you smack in the face – and leaves you feeling empty inside. Like a bit of yourself has gone away and left you with nothing but bits and pieces of a broken past. Trying to fix it only leaves your hands scratched and bleeding. But you still try. You try to pick them up, you try to put them together – like trying to make a whole of something that always missed a piece – only you never noticed it missing till you tried putting it together. You keep trying, not giving up. But there is that one point – you have to give up. You have got to stop.

But you know, new things come along. Just like the old things that end – they turn up when you least expect them. You are wiser now. You don’t expect, you don’t fantasise, you don’t try too hard. You let it be. Warily, doubtfully, you observe from a distance. The void gets filled slowly, but surely. You resist it – the feeling of wholeness has deceived you before. But it doesn’t stop. It forces its way in. It makes you complete. It makes you forget what you had lost, and remember what you have gained. It creates your new jigsaw puzzle. You put it together, like bits of your life.

Are you missing a piece here, too? Will you find out too late? Everything comes to an end.

Then you discover the answer. It is the memories. They are the missing piece – the piece that completes every relationship, everything that has ended – and will end. Put them in – the puzzle will be complete. Complete, for cherishing, but also for finally putting away. For moving on.

Running

What is it, that makes one want to run away so much? Is it fear, itchy feet or just simply boredom? Is it thirst for adventure, or search for solitude? Is it to dip your feet in a stream, or raft down the current?

It creeps up on you, this need to run away. Sometimes, as you are reading at a play. Sometimes, as your sitting on your windowsill, drinking coffee. Sometimes, even when you’re actually running. You can’t really explain it, it’s not like something is going dramatically wrong. You just want to run away. Where to? Maybe you’ll find out. Maybe you’ll be surprised, maybe you’ll realise it was there all along, maybe you’ll figure out you always knew. Maybe, you’ll understand, life has brought you full circle and you’re back where you started. It’s all about the timing. Always the timing.

‘All I want is a place somewhere’, it can even be the cold night air. For all I know, that’s what I am looking for.

Write

Staring at the screen, the speakers blaring A R Rahman music. Faint strains of home. Soft voices of neighbours floating up through the windows. Clutter of roommate cooking busily in the kitchen. Words float around head.

Type furiously for a while. Stop. Look. Cringe. Backspace-backspace-backspace. GAH. Frustration! Am I a bad writer?!

Favourite childhood song plays. Smile. Think of days past. Holding on to Ma’s pallu and hiding from people shyly. Perched on the bed, looking at Pa getting ready for work. Dancing to my song, this very song, for everyone. The only confident, preening time. Running away again and hiding from compliments. Smiling softly to self.

Renewed vigour. No one is watching. I can do this. Start typing again. The beats are running out. Quick, before the song ends! Finish with a flourish. Sit back with sigh. Wide grin. Read.

Grimace again. Never perfect, hardly good. Well. That is that.

Book

t’s yellow, life. Like pages from an old, old book. A novel. Written by an obscure one-time writer. Lying at the absolute bottom of the shelf in a dusty attic behind trunks filled with lots of nothing and bits of everything. The pages haven’t been turned often. But you know it is a good book, by the care with which you hold it. The print is very fine, almost hard to read.  You have to squint to see it well. But the words are interesting – if you have the patience. There is a lot of unnecessary detail. Just like life. You have to go through the mundane, to find the interesting. If you’re lucky. But its tiring, to wait for that one little bit that may or may not come. Would you close the book, then? Would you choose to end the story halfway? Or would you trudge through the inane monotony in 360 pages, just so you might have 5 pages of unadulterated fun?

I stand at the threshold. Inside is comfort. Comfort of knowledge, of companionship, of togetherness. But also fear. Of disappointment. Outside is challenge. Challenge of action, of difference, of novelty. But also loneliness. I look back into the room, the novel lying half-read on the cabinet. I have a strong urge to go pick it up again, but something holds me back. I wonder what. I try to ignore it. I look the other way, think of maybe stepping out for a bit. But the same something nags me. Will the door be closed when I come back?

I sit down, right there. One leg inside, the other out, elbows on knees, hands on chin. I see my reflection on the metal doorknob. My nose looks bigger than usual, eyes like slits. I tilt my head to the side, grin widely, make a sad face. I giggle. I lean back, rest my head on the door-frame. I am amused. At myself. At the human ability to distract from troubling things by focussing on the most random and the least interesting. I still see the book from the corner of my eyes. I shut them tight. Then peek out of one slowly, as though to check if it is still there. It hasn’t moved, yet. But its too far. And too aloof. Almost, uncaring. I look away. A book should make you want to read it. No?

I think of coffee shops unvisited, movies unseen, shows unwatched, plans unplanned.

I have time for all those now. But there is the book, unread. Does the book have time for me?