Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Untitled - 2

You always know when it happens.

That morning had a greater need for sacrifice than most others in his life. Mornings always blaze into life, he felt. Ebullient, aggressive, purposeful. But today, as he stood looking from the balcony out onto the park, the light seemed to hesitate as it found its way through the trees. Slowing down before it fell on earth, pondering before it lay itself on wet grass.

There are times when you find you have no room. You look hard, but no, there's not an extra inch of space. Not on that sagging bookshelf for your dog-eared comics. Not on the swanky mobile phone for saving any more smses. Maybe you're keeping something you don't want but can't bring yourself to throw it away. Everything comes with a pre-defined size.

He threw his scarf around his shoulders and strode out into the morning, the hard heels of his boots crunching on the sidewalk. He liked walks. They gave his imagination the respite of motion.

You always know when you hit rock-bottom. You're plunging and suddenly there's this distinctive shudder while everything around you goes still. You open your eyes and find yourself at the bottom of this huge ocean, finding it difficult to breathe. You wonder how you got here, but then vaguely remember how you'd tied the lead-weight around your legs and thrown yourself into the water. You struggle to move, thrashing about in the water, entangled in the weeds. And as it gets more and more difficult to breathe, you realize you really should take that key from your pocket, unlock the weight, and swim up for air.

He waited for his turn at the ticket counter. He liked the patience of queues, the quiet shuffling of feet towards a common destiny, the empty acknowledging stares and the discipline in waiting. A ticket in his pocket, he planted himself on a vacant bench under a bare tree. He liked autumn. If you listen carefully, you will hear the leaves whisper tales as they fall, his grandmother had once told him. He believed her.

There are times when you can't look in the mirror. What for? becomes difficult to answer. Why not? tempts you with its truth. Understanding becomes betrayal. Promises become compromises.

He checked his step as he climbed into the compartment. He always did that. He found seat 31. As he unfurled the morning paper, his thoughts turned towards her involuntarily, wondering if she had found his note.

Sometimes, there simply is no room in the heart. And you always know when that happens.


Anonymous said...

Liked it a lot... btw your stories seem to have two characters nowadayss and u seem to sketch one perfectly, his emotion, his 'outview' so as tosay, with the other in a largely peripheral role..if u get wat i mean...

keepwriting..i liked this one.

catch22 said...


Anonymous said...

Why is there always a melocholy undertone? You can reach deeper with lighter strokes.. Why dont you attempt at something like that sometime? Cos you write really well, but it can get dreary if grey dominates for long.

Karthik said...

"He liked walks. They gave his imagination the respite of motion " - supera irukku da .. The whole piece was nice ..

Hmm .. Annon - this style of writing suits him .. And even in life grey dominates a lot (ok - Rajesh, am not generalising).. Is that why life is dreary ??

musafir said...


Good to know you liked it. As for your observation, that's how I've been writing for a long time now.




"Why is there always a melocholy undertone?" -- not on purpose, that's just how it came out. Why it came out that way, I don't know, probably that's how I was feeling when I wrote it.

"You can reach deeper with lighter strokes" -- interesting, since that is what I strive to do, but can you elaborate?


"this style of writing suits him" -- where did that come from? :-) ... I think you're not being fair to me, you know, I've written a lot of other stuff as well :-)

I guess there are times when you have a "dominant" emotion, something which drowns out everything else, and it tends to reflect in what you write. Anything else written under the effects of any other emotion feels forced and contrived.

Anonymous said...

My point exactly. So, yourstories are kind of becoming one-dimensional. In the sense, I know that this guy might be hte chief protagonist and so I expect to find a second character somewhere. In other words, it is becoming kind of 'predictable'. It is not a bad thing, I am just stating an observation.

Maybe it would be niceto know what she feels when she finds the note or what the wife felt when Ajay took so much time to wake up ...may be. (I dont remember the names from the last post and didnt want to go back and type this whole thing again)

Btw, if that second anon is who I think it is, then it seems tht person is in a big talking/writing mood.

Anonymous said...

I dont feel grey dominates a lot in life, unless one chooses to be monochromal. Perhaps the same can be extended to writing as well. There are genres to explore, and person with musafir's panache should diversify further. Not that I am complaining, but I am interested in seeing how the other flavours of this prodigious chef would taste.
Maybe a conscious effort (though that might hamper the joy of seamless writing) could help contain the meloncholy that manages to creep in...

As for the guesses on my anonymity, I am mildly amused as to interest my moods arouse.. :-)

musafir said...


I'm tempted to agree with you, but then I guess you're missing the point.

One just writes at times. If two pieces look and feel like one another, then that is just incidental. One does not think about being predictable. If Conan Doyle thought having a set pattern of characters is 'predictable', then we would never have heard of Sherlock Holmes.

I feel that the treatment of the theme is the only thing that matters. The setting is merely a means; it does not require intelligence to conjure up a setting filled with interesting characters. However, exploring an emotion is what interests me.

As for what 'she' feels,

1) I guess you're not letting your imagination loose, or being analytical enough. I'm not bothered about what relationship Anjali has with Ajay. She's just a tool to end the piece. It could have been a 'sundal' boy on the beach as well, and the smell of 'sundal' could have triggered Ajay's memory to return. I'm more interested in what Ajay feels and thinks about when he can't recollect anything.

2) Read my post titled 'The Wall' for how 'she' would feel. In fact, even as I was writing this, I remember you saying in response to 'The Wall' that you would have liked to know how 'he' felt. Some people go for breadth. I go for depth, however shallow that is.

You need to expand your vision a little and look at taking more from my posts rather than just the 'plot'. But then you're the one who likes Vikram Seth for his plots and quibbles at Rushdie's over-detailing :-)

Finally, I'm not writing a book. The length is a restriction (yes, even for me), and writing something meaningful inside that space challenges me.


Fair comment and I agree with you.

In fact, exploring new genres - be it in style, theme, form - is something I love and I'm working at it. But coming back from a one-month lay-off, one wants to get back in the flow before one ventures out :-)

PS: 'Prodigious' and 'panache' - disagree on both counts. And no, I'm not fishing for compliments or being modest.

anonymous and anonymous

Ok, time to break up the party.

Anonymous1: She isn't who you think she is.

Anonymous2: He's your classmate.

I have statcounter. I am God :D

Anonymous said...

Long comment coming - you asked for it.
One just writes at times....Holmes.

---as I said, when I said predictable, I wasn’t criticizing. I am just saying I knew there will be some other character right on the turn and it was a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. As for Conan Doyle, he had a predictable set of characters agreed and it was usually from Watson’s viewpoint. But, he did have a part where Sherlock used to explain his thinking. He might not have been that effective, had Watson not existed and he had kept delving into Sherlock Holmes fully or vice versa. What you are presenting is from Sherlock’s perspective and it is one I totally find fascinating. What I am saying is expansion from Watson’s view point would also broaden the experience. Again reiterating, predictable is not a criticism. Just an observation.

I feel .......... interests me.

--Again I find myself agreeing with you though with a bit of addendum. Exploring a whole plethora of emotions is wat interests me. Like this post, you neatly described his feelings and emotions and the settings of course. But, my curiosity also stems from the fact that how would have she felt. Was she sad? May be she was non-chalant since this was expected …things like that.

As for what 'she' feels,

1) I guess ........ anything.

--Same reasoning, I am not interested in wat relationship she has with Ajay or whoever tht person might be. My interest was more towards finding out the person’s reaction on seeing or feeling what he/she see/feel. It could be the sundal guy who sees the person on the beach confused and trying to recollect. Or it could even be fisherman coming back from day’s work when he sees the guy lying prone. I dnt care about the person, only what he or she might feel.

As for the imagination part, both of us know that I lack that. But, yea the thing is I can imagine the first part too. The reason you are better at it is that you are able to imagine it better and are able to convey it beautifully in words. And this very fact might make the second part much better than I could envision/express it. I for one feel this is what makes good authors good.

2) Read my post....shallow that is.

--Yea I remember the post and as I said, I would like the other side to come out as well. It is often that one side might be well represented and other side might have an injustice done to it. For example- in this post the guy has left (sorry to put it in such a clich├ęd form). Now, what I am thinking is (and I mite sound like a two sound broken stereo here) how is she feeling. Did she have pangs of guilt? anger? Neither? Or did she just call him up and try to find out? Things like that...

You need .....over-detailing :-)

--Second part beautifully put. As I said above, that is wat makes u good. Yea I like Seth’s plots rather than Rushdie’s over detailing. Though I don’t hate the latter, I only like him less. I read Two Lives and it was awesome. So was The Sound of Music (that I suggest you read). The latter was particularly good. Slow but good. As for expanding vision and imagination, then I think I commented on that above.

Finally, I'm not....challenges me.

--I know. One reason I sometimes skim through F’s post is the length. But you know you can always have sequels. And you can also explore a new horizons and expand your vision too :D.

Btw, I read this post again. Loved it all the more. Good work.

About the anon part – Now this makes me curious:). I was surprised by the length of the first comment and so since two of us had exclusive rights to anon comments, I imagined it to be the other. So who is this new person encroaching here. As I said, it is very curious.

See yu online sometime.

Anonymous said...

@ musafir: I do have the freedom to comment whatever i feel like saying, dont i? Be it criticism or commendation, its mine to say and yours to hear. So you are prodigious and you sure have the flair for the language. Guess you should start taking lessons on accpeting compliments with grace... hrrmphfff..
Agreed with you on shaking off the rust with familiar and comfortable efforts.. But dont go on another sabbatical before you begin experimenting... Thats when it gets real dreary... one wait eons for this guy to post, and here he comes to dish out beuatiful yet "the usual" stuff..

And you sure are God, being able to see through guises... Just wondering, what exactly it is that you saw...

musafir said...


I wasn't saying you were criticizing. I was merely engaging in dialogue :) ... anyway, will keep your comments in mind. They are too precious for me to ignore.


Oh well, it is very flattering to hear such things being said about one's writing, thanks for that :) But I guess I'm overtly critical of myself, which also helps me keep my feet on the ground. And there still is a long way to go, really.

I wasn't on a sabbatical actually, just had tonnes and tonnes of work to do, and I just kept writing reams and reams of code. I'm not the kind who suffers from blocks though, although I suspect it is quite the fashion to proclaim one is suffering from one though. I just need my mind to be free before I can write.

As for the guise, it's just a handful of people who read my blog, and fewer leave comments. And when they do, the site tracker helps a bit. But I still am not sure (despite what I said in my earlier comment), if that's any consolation :-)

Anonymous said...

as someone said, it gets curiouser and curiuoser ...

Anonymous said...

@my alter-ego/namesake : as the adage chimes, "curiosity kills the cat"...

shooting star said...

Understanding becomes betrayal. Promises become compromises....
u observe life very closely and carefully, most of us dosent even care to catch a glimpse

musafir said...

shooting star

Interesting comment. I do make it a point to pay attention to detail -- I really suck at that, but about observing life carefully ... hmm ... haven't thought of it that way, really. Thanks for the comment :) Good to know I'm still being read.