Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gentle Musings

At times, I would get this urge to write something. In the middle of the day or during the night when I lay awake, this urge would hit me. Ideas and thoughts would then float through my mind, and I would long to capture them in prose, afraid that if I let go; they will be lost forever. In these moments, I would feel that my mind is churning out beautiful though unrelated streams of consciousness, which I somehow have to weave together into a coherent whole. But here a paradox would cloud my mind. For, if I have to give my thoughts a free rein, my mind would run here and there; and those transient feelings, for want of a proper direction, would turn into a half-completed mess. But if I restrict myself to a single thought, wouldn’t that be self-defeating in its own way, for then I would be cheating on my own spontaneity and originality (or the lack of it). This paradox stems from the fact that I lack patience and discipline to hold onto a single line of thought for long. Often, when I try to connect to that inner voice, I would find too many responses coming back. Suppose one day I am reading a travel book and the way a particular place is described strikes me, I would then want to pen a travelogue of my own. But even before my mind can give shape to that thought, my heart will lose interest midway and fly away somewhere else. And that cycle will repeat. I have often debated with myself about the need to feel strongly about a subject long enough to give it shape, but more often than not, my patience has worn out. It is at these moments that I feel I cannot be a writer of any significance. I wonder if all the great writers, when they began as novices, felt like this. And hence, I have decided to name this article ‘GENTLE MUSINGS’ for they are nothing more but some jumbled lines of consciousness that I have collated somehow from that confusing abyss called my mind.

The breakout area* in my ninth-floor office has a large glass pane that looks out onto a tiny canal of liquid industrial waste. A pipe runs through the length of the nearby road, which then empties itself into the canal. Early in the morning when the dawn is yet to break, if I happen to be in office, I would sometimes come to the breakout area and gaze outside. With coffee in one hand, as I see the early morning waste fill up the canal, I would imagine it to be a river with a dam on it, which has just been opened. Then, far away on the distant horizon as I see the sun making its slow ascent against the morning sky, a lonely bird, cutting across the face of the still dim sun, would catch my eyes. Sometimes I would catch my own reflection in the glass and the image would feel just like a rainbow against the backdrop. The insect-trail made by the early morning joggers would complete the picture and I would long to capture the moment in words or pixels. Sometimes when I am sitting in the canteen and one of my colleagues is describing one of his recent escapades; I would look out the window and get lost.

Now, when I think of my graduation days, the picture that comes to mind leaves me with a sense of longing. Perhaps this is the same feeling of huzun (Turkish for ‘melancholy’) that Orhan Pamuk meant when he was talking about Istanbul, the city of his birth and the home of his imagination. I still remember those late-night bike rides at full steam, getting up late and roaming the streets without any particular sense of direction. Back then, Shakespeare and Byron existed only in literature books and it was booze and fags that gave a perspective to our thoughts. If college and books took our daytime then it was partying and late night discussions that consumed our nights. Even now, as I am writing this down, I can still see the long lazy nights when we had huddled up together on the bed discussing topics ranging from politics to the sexual revolution. Sometimes I just lie on my bed and wonder. I wonder at all those moments, which have passed me by. All those moments which will never come back again no matter what I do and where I go from now. Its amazing how time just flies when you are not listening to its hands ticking...........................I mean its like staring down a wall-clock...........tick... tick...tick..............seems like an eternity, and then you blink and before you know, all these years just pass. Looking back now, those memories seem from a world far separated from my own..........these glimpses of my childhood which are now captured in photos, albums and that tiny little place in my mind. Sometimes, I just close my eyes and go back in time and I can still smell the rice that my mother once fed me, I can still remember the first time I fell in love and had my heart broken. I can still see all those carefree years of my childhood, running around tables, chairs...getting scolded by uncles, aunties,.....making sorry faces and then forgetting all about it and going out to play. Why can’t life be like that always? Why can’t we capture all these memories in a big photograph........get all our loved ones in it and stay there in that moment aging, no dying, nothing..............

Often, when I am in one of those depressing moods, I would try to think of the things that make me happy............ I like listening to the soft snoring sound made by my girlfriend when she falls asleep on the other end of the phone. I like the early morning dew sitting on leaves, windowpane of my room. I like walking the streets late at night with my friends when the silence is pin-drop and the only sound you hear is the occasional dog howling from somewhere nearby. I like traveling overnight in a tourist bus to an unknown destination. Then, very early in the morning when the bus stops near a roadside dhaba, I would get down to relieve myself in the nearby fields. Later, sitting on the wooden-bench of a nearby tea stall, I like sipping hot boiling tea with cigarette in hand. I like watching people gesturing to each other from a distance and the animated disco that they make. I like sitting idly with my friends on a hot Saturday afternoon and complain about ‘all the exciting things we could have done today rather than just sit here’. Sometimes, late at night, when sleep fails me, I like crawling up to my mother’s side of the bed and whispering in her ear, “Are you sleeping, Ma?” if only to wake her up.

Sometimes, after a few days of stay at my relatives or friends, I have not failed to notice that the place has slowly turned into a mess, coincidentally from the time that I set foot on their humble abode. As that very someone has gone about pretending polite acceptance of this fate, I have not failed to realize my own doing in it. I am not trying to ‘rub it in’ in the hope that ‘that someone’ will be reading this one day and see the well-meaning person that I am. But, yes I am trying to gently make him or her realize that I am like that only and that nobody is perfect, so basically it’s ok if I come to your house and mess up the furniture a bit!

I have often found myself to be bored in office meetings and year-end appraisal sessions. There sitting around an imposing table, as my boss prepared to go on with his well-rehearsed speech, I have often wondered ‘what’s the use in all these?’ Its not that I have not tried to fit into the role that I am in or do justice to the responsibilities that I carry. I have got my share of above-average and average ratings, which, I think, validates my belief that I have succeeded in playing the part in atleast bits and parts. For its not that I have any misgivings about the concept of work and its importance in human existence. Its just that the idea of office that has come to be seems so constrained, as if it survives only to seep your energy and turn you into a dull nine-to-five machine. I have problems with the officious-looking sofa in the reception-area, I have problems with the hot-looking receptionist who greets everyone with a practiced smile and forgets all about him the moment he passes by. I don’t like the spic-n-span look of the floor; I don’t like the busy-bodies that employees almost always try to cut when they are walking down its carpet. I don’t like the entry and exit time-logs that you are expected to follow once inside the office.

Someone once asked me what I plan to do of my future and I had answered him with all the enthusiasm I could muster. I had told him all the usual things he wanted to hear, not because I wanted to fool him or something but because, like everyone else, I too had dreams of making big bucks. And big bucks you only make if you are good at something and that something, in a wannabe-MBA’s case like me, had to be business. As a growing adolescent, I had this image of myself as a high-flying executive who travels from city-to-city attending client meets. God knows I had wanted to believe this image, if only for my own sake. As a child, whenever I topped a history exam or got the highest marks in some other subject, I had this vision of all the great things that I’ll grow up to be. But then they never came true. I am not too sure about my long-term goals anymore but one of the things that I plan to do (in the not-so-distant future) is to write a travelogue on a beautiful place that I might visit someday. My travelogue would start standing on the platform from where I will catch the train. It would then go on to describe the train-journey, the different people that I meet in that one single day.........I would sleep the entire day (preferring not to socialize too much) and at night, when all the lights are off and everywhere its quiet, I would gaze out the window of my compartment. The train will be traveling through dark countryside with fields of paddy or rice on both sides. Then, as my eye would catch a faint light coming from a distant house somewhere, I would sigh with contentment. Getting down on my destination station the next day, I would then hail a cab to the nearest hotel. By the time, I get to the hotel it will be quite late so I will order dinner in my room and retire to bed. The next day, I would bring out the tourist-map from my bag and get onto a bus to explore the city. During all these, I would keep a diary on which I would scribble notes of places and things I see. Returning home, I would then want to capture those moments in my notebook and my travelogue would be born!.........

1 comment:

  1. its great that you are writing now. u r a powerhouse of talent which i guessed may be 5 years back when we were roomies! Nice blog. waiting for an another one.