Saturday, September 8, 2007
At times I wish the pen would run away with my soul.
Sit in the shade of green apple trees and conspire to write stories. Hundreds of them, thousands of them! And bring them back to me to read in this very little room that now encases absolute emptiness… carrying them in the guise of shadows during thunderstorms, bringing along lemon tea and rain. It would not have mattered to me if those stories had been only about the sea and the moon or gilt edged paintings and waltzes. It still would have been a part of me, a slice of my spirit.
Sometimes I wish the pen would run away with my soul and visit the life of paintings, it should seep into a Picasso or a Dali and proceed to tell silk-spun tales of melting clocks and sleeping girls, or picnics under greenish skies. I would not want honest answers. Never! There must be speculation and fabrication and spinning of the silk and clocks till the pen should tire awhile. And the soul shall write of hissing bonfires too and tales that were strung around them, of the charm of a chance reflection in a mirror, of murmurs and of puddles in summer and coloured umbrellas…
But now I travel back to this room, dislodged from the mental escapes that open eyes dream about. There is nothing that should inspire art here, it is small and shabby and distastefully furnished in yellows and oranges by the lady who lived here and then rent it out. I wonder whether it is this very room that stifles the art I so often dream of, whether the very smell of desolation shrinks my soul to nothing more than a pulsating beat that does not skip.
On mornings after a hard night’s toil at this wooden desk, I silently creep up to the huge window on the opposite wall that opens out to reveal a view of the grey sleeping city. The sight remains the same almost always. The street lamps yet to be turned off and the roads glistening from last night’s fog. The huge chimneys lining the sky, not yet pouring out the dismal fumes of grey to add to the dismal city that slept... Slept when it lay at night, slept when it woke- slept through a thousand stillbirths at one go.
From my window on the second floor one could look down to see the neighbourhood of some poor dears- living in the kind of poverty that is defined by wealth, or the lack of it. They seemed rather satisfied with their hard wrought fate. Happy in their smog brushed faces, in their dirty rags, in their empty bowls which if clean reflected their smog brushed faces in turn. Crumbling roofs and crumbling walls mattered not to them, they were happy in their belief that their own roof shall never fall.
It was while inspecting the gathering pigeons on one such roof that I first saw them both.
She gathered her skirt around her knee like a princess and broke her loaf of bread in two. To the boy she gave her larger piece and urged, “Eat”. The boy’s face must have lit up I believed (for I could not see very clearly from my window- just the back of his head when he accepted the piece). He broke the larger piece in two, and fed one half to the pigeons that had gathered with the morn around them.
She looked accusingly, first at him- then at the pigeons that gobbled up greedily all that was tenderly given by that small soft palm, before breaking her already halved piece in two. And again she handed the larger share to the boy, saying, “You eat!” with a look of extreme indignation. The little boy gurgled with innocent laughter and ate his bread happily, with occasioned sips at some tea from a clay pot which he shared with the girl. She seemed happy too.
The pigeons rested on their roof, pecking at minuscule crumbs that had slipped from their fingers, while their laughter shooed away the assembled gloom. The morning felt blue for the first time in ages, even brighter when the streetlamps eventually went off. The white breasted pigeons too perhaps smiled before flying away to a clear summer morning.