that line the heavy clouds
On a warm summer day.
The sun is hidden away,
The ground pulls
down the water
from the air
With every possible might,
To quench its
Suddenly the cloud’s weight fails it
The hidden secrets
Over the hills,
between the valleys,
on the plains,
And there is a lone floating boat on fire
– Written by Roshini Sridhar
We are slaves to living in a certain way, slaves to our jobs, tethered to one place on earth.
We want change. We don’t want to be bored. If we were removed from this earth, it would make no difference to anything whatsoever. We want that fact to change.
We dream and dream.
“We are not special. We are not crap or trash, either. We just are. We just are, and what happens just happens.”
“You’re trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.”
“We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
“For years now, I’ve wanted to fall asleep. The sort of slipping off, the giving up, the falling part of sleep. Now sleeping is the last thing I want to do.”
“You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
“You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We’re all part of the same compost heap. We’re all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
“You will become a statistic.”
Some stories start and end with one glance, a chance meeting between a stage actor on the roadside and a player in a moving bus. Some lay dormant for years, with the characters around each other the entire time, until flared into existence by a chance occurrence; then continue to grow with each participant feeding the best of themselves into each other for years. Some are born in the purest of ways – between two timid school children who happen to sit together, and continue to do so for months or years until one or both move away with the knowledge of the other’s being clear as the back of their hand. Ten years later, even without the same characters, the story is still alive.
Sometimes a person starts and finishes a story without knowing it. A school girl does it when she laughs under pouring rain with her books getting drenched, and someone else denying themselves a simple pleasure for the sake of a phone or a watch or a project watches and notices her.
We participate in a plethora of such stories everyday. More often than not we don’t know when one starts. Those of us who are lucky and observant file away the most intriguing characters we come across in our memories. Some of them we hold on to, some we remember in flashes of images, some we stay aware of and love from a distance without contacting them again, and they might be a completely different version of the person we knew if we do see them again. We are made up of stories, those that we are a part of and those that we hear, every big or small chapter adding to us without our noticing.
That is their mystery and their magic.
To the Kathakali Man these stories are his children and his childhood. He has grown up within them. They are the house he was raised in, the meadows he played in. They are his windows and his way of seeing. So when he tells a story, he handles it as he would a child, of his own. He teases it He punishes it. He sends it up—like a bubble. He wrestles it to the ground and lets it go again. He laughs at it because he loves it. He can fly you across whole worlds in minutes, he can stop for hours to examine a wilting leaf. Or play with a
sleeping monkey’s tail. He can turn effortlessly from the carnage of war into the felicity of a woman washing her hair in a mountain stream. From the crafty ebullience of a rakshasa with a new idea into a gossipy Malayali with a scandal to spread. From the sensuousness of a woman with a baby at her breast into the seductive mischief of Krishna’s smile. He can reveal the nugget of sorrow that happiness contains. The hidden fish of shame in a sea of glory.
He tells stories of the gods, but his yarn is spun from the ungodly, human heart.
The Kathakali Man is the most beautiful of men. Because his body is his soul. His only instrument. From the age of three it has been planed and polished, pared down, harnessed wholly to the task of storytelling.
He has magic in him, this man within the painted mask and swirling skins.
She was his mother.
Being on the receiving end of her son’s denunciative stare had made her feel demented. In a blink, the rage of a moment ago was replaced by a tumult of guilt and remorse.
Yes, he was impertinent. Yes, he was spoilt. He was a brat in the making, and a manipulative one at that. She’d been on the verge of swearing at him when he gave her his smug smile and danced around, beseeching her to try controlling him further with those gleaming eyes. And she had. Only to see her pride join the rest of her belongings on the far side of the room following an expert throw.
But he was innocent. And his being innocent meant that she’d just wanted to lift a hand on someone pure and untarnished, someone a novelty in themselves, someone with an exquisite mind waiting to be sculpted by an expert hand.
She couldn’t begin to imagine herself in one facet of the child’s personality. Humans didn’t remember much from when they were three. And they never retained any of their mindset from when they were three.
All she knew was that she had to have him look at her once with the familiar mischief in his eyes instead of accusation.
She waited for her second chance.
You didn’t see him once he began to sing. He only served as a focus, a place for the eyes to rest while the ears enjoyed themselves. He began with a simple song, something in Gaelic with a strong rhyming chime to the lines, accompanied by the merest touch of his harp strings, so that each plucked string seemed by its vibration to carry the echo of the words from one line to the next.
The voice was also deceptively simple. You thought at first there was nothing much to it—pleasant, but without much strength. And then you found that the sound went straight through you, and each syllable was crystal clear, whether you understood it or not, echoing poignantly inside your head.
– Diana Gabaldan
An offer of silence A friend came over and smiled, sat down at the table on the porch and drank some tea Both maintained elegant and comfortable silence the entire time because they never got aroun…
Source: an offer of silence
Sunlight brings those creatures hidden that I forget to look for, those in plain sight that I’m blind to unless one pops up suddenly under my feet as I walk on a monotonous road, breaking into thoughts like a pin-prick of light entering through a slit into a dark room
Night light brings them closer to me
The artificial brightness of my lamp attracts them
Pulls them out of other midnight wanderings, wings clicking so I
finally have a chance to see
There is a person somewhere I know.
His words come with a welcome for the most closed-off of hearts and with love for every face seen for the first time.
He speaks to a small group of people sometimes. Some are there for the first time. Some are returning. Some have become permanent fixtures around him.
His words reach a physicist sitting in the crowd, a physicist who considers all other sciences below his. He listens to him. Most of what he says, he contradicts in his head.
A few beautiful sentences still make it through.
When he leaves, he leaves with the same disdainful opinion of other scientists but an inexplicably lighter heart.
There is a woman sitting in the crowd too. She is old, her hair wispy, a small hair-clip keeping it in place in her braid. She fell asleep as he talked. When she woke up, it was to bright lights and murmurs of discussion. She moved about in the crowd and spotted the speaker. He was talking to someone else. She watched for a while.
When she left, she left thinking of what her children were about to say next.
One of the listeners didn’t know the language he was speaking in. She was simply sitting there. She meets him every now and then, and on every next visit she carries with her a crystal clear memory of his warmth. When he embraces her on their next meeting the feel of his soft hair against her cheek is a live memory. She’s already waiting for it before he reaches out. When they pull apart he smiles, and she smiles too. He starts speaking. She listens, and her answers to his words have no way out except through the sudden joy enveloping her being. Words don’t suffice.
When they part he says he will pray for her.
They all leave with a fresh page in their hearts.
A shiny new glass was brought into a household by a mother who told her two careless kids to be careful. They drank juice in it everyday. First thing after school. They pulled it out, held it carefully in their hands, it’s firm shape fitting snugly inside their palm. Then slowly poured juice into it and watched as it filled. Full to the brim, they simply stood and beheld the sight of the color shining through the glass for a while. Golden when it was apple. Orange when it was orange. They then took a sip, felt the coolness in their mouth. A bit stinging at first and then gradually subsiding.
The juice and the snacks after it were sometimes the highlight of the day. For either one of them or for both.
They were the highlight.
The day the elder one walked in and saw the glass broken, he’d just woken up. So he stood and stared at it for a while. Understood after a few seconds that it was broken. In a very fleeting moment of panic, he tried to recall whether he’d kept in near an edge somewhere the day before.
It was the younger brother’s fault. In perverse satisfaction and perverse relief, he left.