Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The break

It' s been raining intermittently since morning. A mug of dark, black coffee grows cold on the table. An abandoned cordless beckons plaintively from a forgotten corner of the small, one-room cabin. Newspapers lie in scattered sheets on the wooden floor, vestiges from a session with the cartoons and the crossword.

He stands in front of the glass wall that overlooks the dark, green jungle underneath, watching drops patter the verandah, bouncing off the hard teak like pearls dropping from an unstrung necklace. The bluish-gray sky lies lazily above him. The clouds are today heavy with rain, and lumber across purposelessly. He'd woken up at dawn and had made good progress before it started raining. And then, like mice lured by the piper, the rain had drawn him out.

Sunlight soldiers through the shaggy, thatched roof from over and behind his head, catching drops in mid-flight.
A delicate warmth suffuses the nippy air, which now smells of dead, and wet, leaves. A mini rainbow struggles on the glass. He can see his tall frame in it now, bare-chested, hair dishevelled, unshaved, his khakis falling from his slim waist to just below his ankles. The cordless continues to wail.

He plods across the verandah to where the glass wall ends and the ladder begins. The drops have formed a small puddle here. Balancing himself on his left leg, he stretches his right out, and with the big toe, writes her name on the water. The water cedes as his toe scrawls, and then spreads back to erase. He carefully draws each letter on the surface, watching them vanish even before he finishes, but the image of all of them together is firm in his mind. Just like her memory.

The cordless goes silent. He notices it. In the jungle, it's not the noise, but the silence which catches the attention. It rings again. He walks bare-footed into the cabin; looks around for the cordless. He checks his writing table. A sheaf of notes, papers from the morning's work, a box of cheap ballpoint pens, with one missing, the one he's been using. But no cordless. He can hear it nearby.

He bounds across the mattress, homing on the sound. There's a backpack in the corner, filled with supplies from his latest visit to the village. He flings it aside. The cordless blinks at him in innocence, its tone now louder and adamant. He grabs at it.

"Hello?"

"Daddy?"

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

u wr rite...it does seem like being a part of the wall, the rain, even the cordless...

catch 22 said...

Beautiful imagery projected here. I want to be in the cabin right now. Yep in Jungle silence catches attention have experienced that. All in all loved reading this one.

The Man Who Wasnt There said...

Nice imagery yes..(but hey it's you..by now it's no longer a novelty..it is almost taken for granted..) but then I didnt get the last part?:| or for that matetr even the 'motif'? now now dont go all post-modernist on me and say there neednt be a motif et al...:P

Karthik said...

Hmm .. I agree with them .. Nice imagery .. Nice setting !! But cudn't quite understand the story !! I felt as though(note the word "I" - no sweeping generalisations) that the table had been set beautifully, there was slow music allround, with even a couple of cigarttes, but someone forgot to serve the dinner !!!!!!

musafir said...

anonymous and catch22

Thanks!

girish and karthik

Typical Virgo behaviour :P *runs away before the slippers come flying*

Okay, it was getting very tiring to weave all my writing around a story or a message. I just wanted to write for the pleasure of describing something without having to face the pressures of having to "deliver" anything at all. Plus, I wanted to experiment a little, wanted to write something open-ended.

The point of this piece is to see if the writing is good enough to make the reader slow down and enjoy the scene (which I hope catch22 did and you guys don't seem to have; poor writing I guess). Also, I've been making a conscious effort to add additional dimensions to my craft - I suck at describing colours and sounds and shapes. To try and improve and at the same time handle the pressures of having to say a story can be too much. Hence this piece.

Again, I did leave it a bit open-ended to let the reader bear the responsibility of taking the story further inside his/her head.

The Man Who Wasnt There said...

ah come on..too convenient an explanation I would say..:) my point was the the hello-daddy part was a bit incongruous....if not deliberately misleading. It is not as if you needed it for the sake of verisimilitude or anything...so are we to assume that those two just didnt have a purpose?

mmm...I was able to visualize yes..but 'enjoy the scene' not sure...(Well the problem could probably be that I have an inherent 'metaphor' defect )

And oh I wasnt even expecting/demanding a 'story'...that would eb too Fablesque...but then atleast not non sequiturs?:|
Anyway have I asked you this before? your point about describing colors reminded me of this conundrum..how would you describe colors to a congenital blind person?

musafir said...

girish...!

There is a concept called "Show and not tell" in writing. That is what I was trying to do.

It's not too simple an explanation - it's the only explanation. I was just having a nets session. And it's in the nets that you try everything out.

As for the "Hello?" "Daddy?" thing, that is exactly what I meant by leaving it open-ended. I wanted the reader to think - Where is this place? Why is he here? What does he do here? And what's with the title? What does "The break" mean? Does it mean he's taking a break? Or does it refer to the cordless interrupting his thoughts about the rain? Who is "her"? Is "her" the one who's on the phone?

What is misleading? Like you said, is there a need for a motif at all? What control does the writer have over the reader's thoughts? Should he hold his hand and show him what he (the writer) wants him (the reader) to see? Or should he provoke his imagination into thinking of his own story? And what is the purpose of writing? the writer's pleasure or the reader's? This piece was driven by all these questions.

The Man Who Wasnt There said...

mmm..mmm...mmm..I am not convinced yet...or I am on a totally wrong track...not really sure it is a valid case of "psychological thought experiment". I am fine with involving the reader on a cerebral level 'to a certian extent' but then leaving it all to his imagination/interpretations why not start and end with "once upon a time..." or "It happened to me."

The thing is with such writing there is no "accountability". I mean the writer takes refuge under the excuse that it was meant to be left to the reader's interpretation and the reader well due to indolence(if not exactly plain lack of imagination :p )

There is something pertinent missing and I am damned if I am able to pin point it...:|
anyway lets see what your other regular readers say about this....

musafir said...

girish...!

What is there to be convinced about?

And the concept of the reader holding the writer accountable is quite amusing indeed. Every artist sure needs an audience and the appreciation (or the criticism) but that does not mean the artist is bound by the audience. He is by definition avant-garde and unless he explores newer forms and avenues, and challenges the audience, he can't stay avant-garde.

A writer seeks release from everything that defines his art. And through that release, he seeks to lend newer meaning to the very dimensions he escapes from.

Karthik said...

Aw .. To heck with the Sun-signs and moon signs thingie .. U'r sounding like a female(According to me - no sweeping generalisation).. Aneeways that's a good point which girish has - i generally read lots of stories which have no end and the writer probably thinks - Left to the reader's imagination !!! But then i have a 1001 things in my mind and am not exactly a litreary student sitting in a English class with an entire period to debate and ponder .. So what am looking for is -basically a quick read which makes me think for max 5 -10 minutes and then get back to work !! So far u haven't disappointed me ....

The Man Who Wasnt There said...

Ah you get me wrong..(Or shall we blame it on my as usual ineffective way of putting across my point? )

I never made any supposition that the author is 'bound' by the audience or anything. I presume you misinterpreted what I meant by "accountability". By that I meant a signature style of the author...I mean lets face it A Rushdie even in a fit of avante gardesqeu bout cannot become a Wodehouse...:)

I am all for the writer wanting the readers to explore new avenues,dimensions et al...
I am just not convinced this would work....
Probably it's just me..

And what was that last para about?
A writer seeks release....escapes from

'Heavy connotation'..but what does it 'mean'?:P

Solitary Reaper said...

Open ended pieces are very poigant.. and leave an indelible mark on the reader.. Your attempt is appreciable... But, as far as my limited exposure goes, open ended pieces carry the reader somewhere along its flow and leaves him in a destination where he is given the freedom to look around and connect his journey with his destination. Guess the flow was absent in your piece. The description, however rich, doesnt make up for a theme... Perhaps, the piece should have been longer...?

Prat said...

love the narration and the ending...turns the mind in such beautiful ways!

I LUV CATS said...

#