I finally publish

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The sea of stories

He could tell stories. Let's call him Shah of Blah. Whether the stories were real or not, I don't know. But they were as all stories go, magical. Avant-garde. He would weave them swiftly, in bold and colorful strokes, picking a bit of fiction from here, a bit of reality from there, throw in a few reflections of people, some smiles, some chuckles, some tears and would present me an intricate arabesque.

I know not how many people have heard it. I know not how many will hear it. But this much I know, I am glad I did.

Nights would find me listening to his voice that would take me to a world that is beautiful only because you don't live there. I would listen on, enthralled but conscious- it would end the moment he realized its too late in the night. And then, I would be sent cruelly off to bed with words, "That's enough stories for this time". It never was enough.

The Shah of Blah was not this obliging always. You never knew when you got lucky. And I knew better than to ask.

What would happen when one day as everything ends, his stories too would; I often wondered. There will be more stories, I consoled myself.

I started writing his stories as mine. A feeling of guilt existed, oh yes. But as all feelings go, you can ignore them if you want to.

Popularity is desirable. Yes.

It was a growing sin. I might not have told the stories as well as the Shah of Blah did, but I did my best.

People came and people went. Appreciation too followed suit.

But now, his stories ceased to amaze me. I knew I could do better than him. What I failed to realize was that, without his stories, I could not decorate. That I was only the superfluous storyteller… That the stories were his…

I am tired now. Of trying to better him... For people who haven’t heard him, think I am good. I alone know.

I asked him one day, “Do you tell these very stories to many people?”

He replied thoughtfully, “The stories… they reflect the listener. If I tell you kaleidoscopic stories, that’s because you bring out the color in the stories. I could tell a gray one. I could tell a white one. I could tell a black one… each different as the listener. But you, you take a part of me away with each story. Not many do that…”

Of late, his stories to me have been losing color. The shimmers no longer exist. His stories are now a shade of myriad monochromes. We wring our minds in frustration…

He tries to be a better storyteller. I try to be a better listener. We fail.

He told me sadly, “You are pushing yourself to be the best listener than you can no longer be. You are pushing me to be a better storyteller than I can be. Go now. I have no more stories to tell you. Go, before what’s left is lost. Everything doesn’t have to end on a sad note. Go, when we still have a bit of ourselves left. We need it.”

I am going. When I still have a bit of me left. When I still have a bit of his stories unshared.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

To the moon and back

It was an old pier. Abandoned almost. But protected. Oh by abandoned I meant left alone except in wishes. So maybe that's the wrong word there... But a lonely pier it was.

Footfalls were but in the memory. The only sounds it now heard were the faint sounds from scattered beach cafes, the relentless waves that crashed around it, the sophisticated cry of urban seagulls and the distant cough of the caretaker.

So that's where we went. Without knowing it.

A pack o cigarettes always come in handy- dad was as convinced of it as... what's it with me today? Am fumbling for words like looking for lost stitches in sweaters. Hmmm...

So they both sat down and smoked halos that went beyond the hover around the head.

The gatekeeper had long forgotten how to say anything but 'Shoo...go away' and 'Not allowed'. The urchins didn't deserve even that- his scowls n the stones that he almost hurled were enough.

It was a moonlight night. Dark and dewey and faintly ghostly. That's what my mind of few years felt, faintly shivering.

Dad had a way with people I realized yet again When the caretaker searched upon his person for the key that wasn't used.

I hoped the gate wont creak. I don't remember if it did.

10 minutes, the caretaker said.

Waving to his companion of silence, dad nodded.

It was a road for robbers and highwaymen. The wood that shone a purple glow. I could see the blue waves through the cracks. The wind that blew the curls in all directions but forward and ahead of what you left behind.

And at the end of the pier was the moon. This was the way to get to the moon I was convinced. A giant teardrop of a moon, just formed.

I was sure that I could touch it at the end of the pier.

It was a yellow cheese moon. A Bollywood moon. A dream moon. A cheap theatre stage moon. It was a moon made of lover's imagination. It was a storybook moon.

The moon grew with each step towards it.

When we reached the end of the pier, the moon just shuffled a little back.

Unreachable as always. Temptation, just beyond easy reach.

Do you think a boat would get us there?

I like answers that come after a pause.

We could try.

Do you have a boat to the moon?

Not that I have heard.

I always was creative.

Maybe we can ride people to the moon for a fare.

I always was secretive.

Let it just be our secret, the way to the moon.