Thursday, November 6, 2008

Untitled

Untitled. 

Most of her poems remained so. There was no phrase that she found apt, nothing that could crystallize everything that had coursed through her entire frame while penning that bit of poetry. Her poetry, not most would understand. Poetry that was boring and interminable. Poetry, she remembered, that would not sell. The last book she had written for remained unpublished, in a dear old manuscript that she kept hidden in the drawers of her desk. Fondly, she took them out at times, shedding a tear or two at lines that reminded her of pain or pleasure, smudging those very lines with those moist droplets. As a result, during the next course of reading she knew- every phrase, every turn of word that really mattered would have been washed away. Such is life.

One morning, she picked up fresh flowers from the store nearby, wrapping those carnations carefully with a bit of some old newspaper. Back home, she proceeded to put them in a crystal vase, placing them in sunlight and snipping off a leaf or two. Something caught her eye. The yellow parched newspaper bore a photograph of a grimy looking young man dressed in military attire, resting his sweaty palms on his knees; his look was that of despair. Or hope, thought she. Or wonder? Or love? The article that had followed the photograph had been torn off. Now I wouldn’t ever know, she grumbled. He seemed to be sitting on some kind of a stone bench, one of those numerous benches that line the streets of a city. Beside him lay a piece of white cloth, and behind him- a smoke-ridden, broken-winged city. She would never know which city lay behind him, nor would she ever know the identity of the man with the white cloth. The picture, like her poems, would remain untitled. He could be bombing the city, and repenting. He could be protecting the rubble and surrendering. So much is left unaccounted for in the way we live, but does it matter?

...

Before Mr. B left for work very early one morning, he knocked on his wife’s door. She must be sleeping, he assumed. He left without disturbing her anymore. While driving to his office, his thoughts kept returning to the closed door and his mind replayed the soft knock again and again. ‘Are you sleeping?’ he had said to the mute brown door. ‘I’m going out now,’ he had added. 

So, he shifted gears, changed lanes and tuned in the radio. It played something that sounded like Are you sleeping? I’m going out now. Knock. Are you sleeping? I am going out now. Sleeping? Knock. Going now. Are you going out? I am sleeping. Out? Sleeping? You? I am out. Now. Knock. Mr. B could not clear his mind. The morning incident became indistinguishable and vague, almost as if it had not happened. She usually called out a muffled ‘goodbye’ before he left. She generally opened her door and stood on the top of the stairs, while he closed the front door behind him. She sometimes, only sometimes, kissed his forehead. Mr. B wiped his forehead now, and stepped up the gas. She might have left the house at night yesterday taking our boy with her. She might have left for me her poems. She might have rolled out her hair like Rapunzel in a bid to escape me. She did not answer the door this morning, and there must be a reason for that. She might be dead, or she might be living at last in some secret hideaway he had never seen and never heard of. The car swerved, and it would have been a beautifully formless death for the sake of a story, only that he did not die. His wife meanwhile woke up in her room at that instant. Her five-year old son clung to her body, cold and shivering. His face seemed pale and distant and twisted in horror. A nightmare again, thought Mrs. B. She laid his head on her chest and crooned a few lines to him with her mouth near his cold ear. She was soon enough wondering whether it would not be kinder to simply wake him up, than to hope that her soft lullaby would quell the horror of his nightmare. He stopped shivering. Her eyes traveled along the window frame and rested on the week-old carnations.

...

The winter chill seeped in through his shirt. He rolled up the car windows. It was dark and foggy, the way winter nights generally are. The streetlamps seemed to have merged with the pitch black air, rendering the gray upright columns almost formless… almost borderless. It was reminiscent of the edges of reality getting frayed and lovingly bruised, just like in daydreams. Quite like daydreams, he said aloud. 

Mrs. B turned towards her husband. “What?”

He shook his head and said, “Nothing.”

Conversation, as always, ceased. On the other side of the glass, the night road glistened as the fog clung to it desperately. He picked up the broken train of thoughts, and after awhile said, “Do you daydream?”

She remained impassive. He looked at the rear-view mirror, checking whether his son was still sleeping or awake. The boy had woken up and sat awkwardly, encompassing the entire seat, pressing his nose to the glass window. At last, Mrs. B told him about the unnamed soldier with his white flag.

 

11 comments:

Jadis said...

I seriously HEART this one!!!!!

especially the bit where mr B drives and listens to the radio...
brilliant writing and fantastic language...


and i see a hint of dallowayism that is o totally adore.
:D
keep it up!

saptarshi said...

Love this :) Yes I distinctly recalled scenes from The Hours while I was reading this. Lovely, again.

eden gardens said...

okay, i didn't. i mean i didnt read any woolfe in this. it was just really nice. and surprising too since, this came out of nowhere. i mean, u havent written for so long this is a nice surprise.

weevil girl said...

i cant begin to tell you how much this touched me.

Neer said...

touchy very touchy

keep goin

regards


~Neer~
neers4u@gmail.com
http://www.theneers.blogspot.com
http://neers-words.blogspot.com
http://neers-rhymes.blogspot.com
http://neers-bhopal.blogspot.com
http://neers-world.blogspot.com
http://neers-links.blogspot.com

Jadis said...

^^^
-you iz git spams-

you wur spamless bufor thiz. sigh.

oh hai. welcum thiz spam too.

ahona said...

brilliant. :D

Sayan said...

You write with such sensitivity, that..ah well.

Anurima. said...

@Sayan: thank you.

*i got a new visitor* :DDDDDD

Inam said...

very complex, and very well-handled. The pieces connect instinctively and there is not one jagged edge... cheers!

Sayantan said...

After reading this I really had nothing to say...complexity well handled...[:)]