Friday, November 16, 2012

Rough Work : Story of a Child's Mind

When I was a kid, I kept two kinds of notebooks per subject. One for fair work and the other for rough work. Slowly as I grew up, I was not allowed to do mistakes anymore and rough work was gradually to be reduced. The rough books disappeared soon. Looking back I feel strange because most of the things that I have learned were from the mistakes I committed doing rough work. Probably those were the ones I should have kept? I don't know.

But as I grew up a little more, as I said, I wasn't allowed to do mistakes. I was required to respond quickly and and (i was not allowed to put two and's together by mistake) in rightful manner to situations that arise, so I had to do rough work in my mind. Now when mind gets full, how do I make the rough work disappear? Its stuffed in my head, isn't it? And this is exactly what happened to the little boy in our story. He is called by the name Bent. No one knows whatever his real name is. Even Bent doesn't know anymore whatever his name was. 

Bent was a brilliant kid in school. He could do the math like a 8 year old genius. He could explain the planets and the solar system. He knew the importance of brushing everyday and he also knew the stories of The Giant Bull Man (whatever that is) who was his hero. When he was brought to school by his parents, he suffered from some mysterious disease and the bones in his fingers won't let them straighten up. His parents had yet not thought of a name, 4 years old though he was, so when the Head Master saw the kid, he immediately named him Bent. Head Master, it is said, wanted to name his children with English names. Unfortunately he never had any. And some would say that he named him Bent out of his disappointment in life of not having kids and when he saw the kid in diseased condition it quite suited too. But anyways I want you to believe that he was named with good intention as I believe it too. And now you know why nobody knew his real name, well for one reason that there wasn't any.

So one day when Madam Merry asked the bright, brilliant, witty Bent, with fingers beginning to straighten up after his age of 6, that tell me the answer to how many candles you would buy if..., Bent suddenly interrupted and said. Madam Merry, as much merry as you are but I cannot answer your question. Madam Merry was shocked by this rudeness. One would call her Madam Marry and then whatever they wanted to and she wouldn't mind, but she couldn't understand despite her being tireless teacher, why would his favourite pupil refuse to answer a question. 

Bent didn't like keeping secrets much, particularly when keeping them might get him more trouble and no fun, he immediately stooped and said. "Madam, as much merry as you make me by teaching but my rough copy is full. I cannot write there anything anymore."

Listening to Bent, unsure and afraid, Madam Merry, how could she not believe him? She asked, "What rough copy?" 

And then Bent told her his painful story that would bring any child to tears, if at all any child is still left in you. He started to tell her how his fingers were bent when he was little, particularly no reason to tell it but he told her anyway. And then he told he had been doing all the rough work in his head ever since he was a kid as his poor parents, as hardworking as they were, could provide not much to write upon. He told that his mind book is full now. And because as he could not pay attention in doing the rough work efficiently organized, his mind book is full before his prediction of 18 years(whatever way he might have predicted). 

"But all that you have ever taught", he said to Madam Merry, "is still up there my dear Madam. But there is no more space to learn more!" Poor kid, innocent as he was, began to sob and Madam Merry, as much merry as she was, could not hold her tears. She wiped her tears soon, the class was watching, and said to Bent.

"I know my child you remember everything I have ever told you", whatever that might be, "but because I love you my pupil, and the others in your class too," for others were now frowning upon the two, "I want to teach you more my lovely child and the rest of you." 
"And fortunate as you are,", she told the poor child Bent who was now blowing his nose off, "I know what to do."

Madam Merry bought Bent a rough book everyday in the morning and Bent, brilliant as he was, wrote upon it day and night, for evening is reserved for playing on the fields. Books and books, shelves he stacked with cover pages signed Bent. A month later he came knocking on Madam Merry's door. 
"Scribbling as much as I did, 
Days and nights, 
For evenings are for play,
I have my mind unlid, 
And wrote everything bit by bit.
My head's a hollow drum, 
Strange as it thrums.
Though my fingers are sore,
Will you teach me more?"

Madam Merry, merry as she was,  told him to come to class.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Little Laughter I Would Have Missed


When it was night, full of stars, washed clear by the rain, it was then I realized that night sky was not dark. It is never dark. It is in fact lighted by billions of stars, planets and galaxies shining far off somewhere in the universe. And this night, this beautiful blanket above me was the testimony to those million burning souls.

I often question why we are born? What is the purpose of life? But in that very moment when I was lying on my back facing the stars from the roof of 20 storey tall building, it was then it occurred to me that the whole purpose of life is to shine, to twinkle till the time life has.

But my time to twinkle was over. I was at the very last stage of twinkling and I was about to burst apart and break into pieces. I stood up, moved to the edge of the balcony and held the railing. 20 storeys! You could faint looking down from that height and fall on your own. There is no need to take a conscious decision. I laughed.

I looked up at the stars and then down again. On the top of me was freedom. Freedom with twinkling beautiful lights. And below me was a concrete jungle of the ugly world full of judgments, delusions and betrayals. I wondered about dreams. Dreams come from above me from those starry lights and they fall below me to get broken in the 'realistic' world. I laughed. Anything would break if it fell from that height. Will I break too? That i wanted to know.

I held the railing tightly and stretched one leg on top of it as if getting my stance ready. 1,2 and 3...wait! What if mid-way in the air, my mind changes and I realize I am wrong doing this? What is I get the realization of the kind E equals c squared times m and I couldn't share it with the world? What a great loss would it be! Worse, what if I get a loo? Damn! I wanted to go to loo. I climbed downstairs to find the nearest loo. I thought about the sudden '...wait!' that saved my life and gave me the opportunity to pee. I laughed.

While I was peeing, I thought about stars, peeing, concrete jungle, peeing, physics, maths, even more peeing. When i was done I stretched my arms and felt relieved. When I came out of the loo, I didn't want to die anymore. I don't know what suddenly happened to me but I wanted to think more about the things that I could laugh on. For a moment I thought the feeling is short lived and went to climb the stairs back to the top but the steps got heavier and heavier. I started feeling stuffed and choked with the thought of dying. Why should I...commit suicide? As the countdown of stairs was about to end, I began to sweat. It was a forced decision I realized. No one wants to die. No one wants to end his life and miss all the little sarcastic laughter. As i moved further and closed in near the edge, my anger grew. This world has made me think of myself as a waste. This is the very world, the concrete jungle full of judgmental eyes that has made me feel so low of myself. This very effing world. I looked down and looked up again. I didn't know what to do. I closed my eyes for moments and I heard a faint sound in the silence of the night. I humbly accepted it as a good omen, took many deep breaths and went back to my room. I slept and forgot about the night.

Next morning when I was going out of the building, the watchman said, "Last night I came to the roof to lock the door. I saw you there and thought may be you are enjoying the wind and I returned." 

The whole night flashed in my mind in a split second. I walked towards the watchman and hugged him tightly. "You saved my life." I didn't want myself to let go off his hug. I had never felt so emotional with a stranger. 

The watchman patted on my back and said, "Don't worry sir. I have locked the roof now."
I laughed a little, looked away and left. 


PS: Originally I posted this story on writerbabu.com. Awesome platform if you want to share stories anonymously.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Girl I Love

Every afternoon at 3 P.M., her big dreamy eyes followed him. From the small frame of the window, standing on her toes, she would watch him proclaim himself, honk and cycle away. Every day those moments filled her with nervousness, hope and despair. But, she would wait again.

When it was not too sunny, she would run to the roof and watch him arrive from the distance, cycling carefree, moving towards her and honk away to someplace else, filling another pair of eyes with dreams.

Often kids would stop him for a while. Orange! Yellow! Brown! Red! they would exclaim and gather around.  It looked like a small swarming restless mob. But as soon as he was done with them, he would proclaim himself once or no more, honk his horn once or more. And then he would carry on his ride, disappearing in the summer whirlwinds.

Orange and yellow and brown and red, she would remember how they appeared from the box. She knows, he carries the secret of the rainbows but every day he would come and go, leaving her behind in despair.

And then one Sunday afternoon, her father left for the market while her mother was asleep. Alone she stood, holding onto the window sill. Her eyes imagined him honk, proclaim and cycle soon. But he did not come! At last her toes gave away and she came inside disappointed.

In the room she started playing with her father's clothes, wearing, throwing and twirling them when a 10 rupee note fell on the ground. A child, four years old, but she recognized it. It was dark in the room but her mother was sleeping nearby. She looked at her deep in slumber and slowly she clutched and hid the note in her little palms and ran away. Finally her dream will come true!

Restless as her thoughts were, made even more so by the noise she recognized so well. There from the distance she saw him come, honking and proclaiming and cycling towards her. The excitement in her breaths was too much to contain for her. She ran out of the house and a little further to avoid her mother in case she wakes up and then she waved towards the cycle like she had seen other children do all these days. The cycle stopped in front of her,

"What do you want my little girl?" asked the old man.

"Orange!" she almost shouted in excitement and forwarded the 10 rupee note.

The old man opened the box and searched inside taking out Red and Yellow and Brown while her cheerful eyes looked on with curiosity. At last he found the Orange bar and handed it to her with the change.

As soon as she tasted it, the chill dripping orange ice bar, her tongue was colored one with it. It was the sweetest taste and the most beautiful color in the world! Accidentally, she cut a piece of the orange bar and it melted on her tongue chilling her mouth up to the brain until she couldn't stop her giggles anymore. Seeing her happy, the old man proclaimed himself once and no more, honked his horn once and more, he passed a smile to the girl and cycled away.

As he left, she got fearful that her mother might be searching for her. Running towards the house, happy and afraid, savouring the best sweet in the world and coloring her tongue, as soon as she reached near the gate, she saw her father coming back from market and waving towards her. Frightened she threw the change in her hands and the orange bar in the pit near the gate and saw it melting away. When father reached her, she was full of tears in her eyes. Seeing her orange lips and mouth, he smiled and took her in his arms.

"You are the girl I love. My orange sweet girl."

He caressed and tickled her until she started giggling and laughing again and both went back home.