Of intellectual bloodbaths and universal crossroads, I began to write of things that never lost their glory; of people who were quoted often but seldom understood and of ideas that were held absolute but never saw light except for in books or in songs. I threw glances outside the window and borrowed plots from everything that passed by, be it processions, pets or children herding by the ice-cream cart. I began with stories and tales of people I saw and kept asking myself like the reader would do, “So, what happened next?”… I wrote on the philosophies of life and how we all read them backwards, saving the best for an unseen last.
I wrote occasionally, I quit often. “Has everything been said, is there nothing left to tell anymore?”
“They aren’t listening anyway”, I told myself every time I abandoned the pen. Inspiration, however, found me almost immediately and I would tell myself that maybe it wasn’t told too well or perhaps they never even heard the parable at all. I resumed again, I failed too many times. When I kept strong, the words gave up on me. They were but mere crutches for any language and never really defined a sensation too well. I was desperate to find a muse, but failure was far too kind a friend to spare me.
And this way the days passed, until this particular night; I lay in the bed, still thinking about the funny yet rickety phase that my mind was going through. There were orchards and grasslands spurring up in my mind, and yet, it would not allow me to borrow a single flower or a fruit to validate the world of its existence. Well, something interesting happened at nightfall. You know how it’s always a pleasure to find yourself handsomely dressed in a getup that you could never afford but choose to enjoy the avatar within the bounds of the trial room anyway. The night was my trial room. I had begun to fall asleep and my eyes were giving into the darkness, but the intensity of the thoughts and the restlessness inside me somehow kept me from passing over to the hallucinatory land of dreams wholly.
Now this was fascinating because I was balancing on a tightrope, crammed between the real world and a space where I could seemingly go within and explore myself; one could reach closer to his/her deepest thoughts and this is where the source of nirvana lay, some claimed . I had seen people sitting in calm and trying to reach here, creativity was the loudest in this town they said. I had been here before too, yes, but only after nightlong parties or tiring games. But today was different. Tonight it dawned upon as a gift, and perhaps to make up for the sleepless nights I spent trying to make my efforts worth display. I grabbed a writing pad and started scribbling endlessly, of things beautiful and of thoughts that could force the world to pause and ponder. I could feel the burden easing from my shoulders and I slept soundly that night.
The following morning was a dizzy beginning; I had slept till late after that episode. I reached for my glasses and eagerly picked up the pad I had written on and curiously began to read so as to start again from where I had left last. The excitement soon faded, well pretty soon. Nothing, absolutely nothing seemed to make any sense from the pile of the 8-page long labour from the previous night. Well, apart from this one passage with a silly argument questioning the existence of the moon, but everything else seemed to be much like a desperate attempt from a loud and ignorant child dressed in a creative robe, but with nothing to offer the crowd for their attention. The night was ecstatic but the morning right after was beyond disappointing. I went back to bed, staring blankly at the ceiling, consoling myself in anticipation of a higher incentive someday.
The room was now getting too suffocating as the burden resumed. I took a long shower and headed for the coffee house in the neighbourhood. This had to be the most soothing place in the city, the painted green wooden doors and the transparent mugs of fresh coffee in a crowded lane. I plugged in my earphones as I walked into the same, trying to feel the street with a touch of cello seeping in and redefining every action around me. It was perhaps my favourite hobby; the streets appeared more beautiful under the haze of the clouding melody. The man standing by the kettle on the counter appeared a deep thinker with those grey eyes and the couple fighting on the next table made for an amusing picture as they overlooked their daughter’s reaction as she burnt her tongue while sipping the hot coffee from her cup. I took out my tools and placed them on the table. I began again, to write, watching the Gods use me as a pun for their tea-time leisure, attempting yet again to walk past the valley of misfortune…
There was something distracting me in the room, it was too brightly lit despite the daylight comfortably seeping through the glass walls. I walked over to the counter and requested the old man sitting there to dim them slightly. He hesitated at first, citing inconvenience to a group of people sitting right behind me, dressed neatly in their corporate attire and assumedly chalking business strategies. He then took a moment to think and ordered his staff to set me a table beside the front door and shut the lights off in that corner of the room. I smiled back with gratitude for his generosity and walked over to the table. It was easier to write in the dark than in a heavily lit room, I always believed. I set my mind free to wander whenever I sat to think, to bring me the tales or all sorrows and joys in the world around, but with the blinding bulbs around, they refused to go past the shining displays in the room. Nevertheless, I exhaled deeply and let in a long breath, trying to relax myself and decipher the on-going vacuum within me. My notebook was already full of half-baked pieces and incomplete stories crying out for a justified conclusion to their journey. It was but cruelty towards a work of art to be not adhered to, and here- I was the hangman.
I stood there, sipping my coffee, trying to write about the world I did not belong to, of emotions I never felt and of strangers that I only attempted to read into. I stood thinking, of all reasons why I could never finish a story, of reasons why my art could never suffice. Maybe I did not have enough opinions to judge the protagonist, perhaps I was too tangled within myself to preach, or because I was too careful or even scared to let it all out completely. Maybe some writers just over analyse their own works or underestimate the readers, maybe some are blessed to witness but cannot speak, born to feel but cannot deliver, or more importantly, maybe it’s just the fear of a certain disappointment that haunts every artist throughout his life – Of Mediocrity…
- Shijo George
Shijo is an aspiring everyman. That’s all.
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