food for thought, Short Stories

The Portrait of a Writer

The artist looks at the writer again, this time a few minutes more than his usual duration. He then dips his paint brush in the palette for blending the colors together into just the right kind of shade. A slight stroke over the eyebrow and he looks back at the writer searching for his own permission. After the slight approving nod from his intuition, he makes a few more bold strokes over the other eyebrow. The result is magnificent. The imperfections that had been bothering him suddenly melt away. He looks at the face of the writer again and compares it with the portrait. He had been working on it for the past three months and finally he has arrived at the point where he can proudly say that it’s been completed. He puts down his brush and allows himself a brief moment of pride. Then, he asks the writer to see his portrait for the first time.

The writer’s reaction was not quite what the painter expected. He imagined a proud smile, a string of compliments and a pair of grateful eyes but all he received was a single inexpressive word (just a single word, mind you from a writer!) – “Good”. The laconic reply suddenly turned his masterpiece into garbage. The writer’s suppressed smirk still haunts him.

The portrait of the writer stares back at him, teasing at his shocking incompetency. He picks up his brush once again to give a last finishing touch to the painting but he is too distracted by the writer’s lack of appreciation.What could possibly be missing in this painting? Nothing! It’s perfect! How dare that insolent bastard insult his work? How dare he? What does he know about painting anyway? No, there’s nothing else that needs to be added here. The portrait is complete. Even a single stroke would prove to be redundant in this painting. And redundancy is not permitted in the work of reputed artist like him. So, he puts down his brush and pours himself a glass of the most expensive wine he owns in order to celebrate his moment; His moment of arrogant denial. He moans at the exotic taste of the wine only to feel annoyance instead of satisfaction.

The portrait stares back at him with his screaming dishonesty.

No, this can’t be like this. As if under a spell, suddenly he realizes what has been missing in the painting. Almost immediately, he engages himself in series of ferocious strokes, completely taken over by his instincts and subconscious memories. Caught up in a symphony that only he is capable of hearing, he engages in beautiful dance with his artistic instincts. When he at lasts stops, he is dumbfounded by the transformation. The man in the canvas looks back at him like he knows all his secrets, like he has looked into every corner of his heart, even in the most reticent spaces in his mind that is known to him better than the artist himself. This baffles him. He immediately looks away in embarrassment. However, when the amazing beauty of his creation begins to sink in, he sheds his cowardice and faces the portrait again. This time the gaze of the writer intensifies. The man in the portrait is no longer whispering but speaking in resounding words that while the artist was busy capturing every detail of his face in the canvas, he had been writing a story of his own – where the roles are reversed, where he is penning down his entire existence in a bunch of syllables, recording every insecurity, every emotion, every story that his physical presence unconsciously conveys. While he painted the veins emerging and disappearing at the back of his hand, while he painted the cuff link peeking out of his coat, while he struggled getting the correct shape of his specs resting on his nose, the man in the portrait had already written a tome on him. The painter feels completely naked, a feeling he had not been willing to accept since the very beginning of this painting.

The next day when the writer walks into the studio, he is shocked after seeing his portrait. The intensity of his own gaze doesn’t spare him. Through the corner of his eyes he sees the artist smiling at him. The writer smiles back in appreciation. Their eyes meet but no word is spoken. The emotion is conveyed perfectly.

Touché, comrade.Touché.

***

food for thought, Musings from the coffee shop

“What is wrong with your choice?”

 A metaphorical and comprehensive guide on how (NOT) to judge yourself.

I step into the coffee shop for maybe the twenty seventh time (Actually, one hundred and twenty seventh time) and I find my usual spot in the corner; a small table adorned with two yellow chairs which lies next to the turquoise wall and to the right of another similar set of table and chairs which often act as a latent source of entertainment for me when I eavesdrop into the conversations of the people occupying it. Yes, writers are shameless that way. The waiter arrives shortly with a bottle of water (How I wish I could write wine or a pint of beer here) and smiles at me in acknowledgement. I smile back and take out the same book from the adjacent book shelf that I was reading the last time I was here.  The waiter gives me the menu. But he knows it’s of no use to me. After serving other people, when he returns, he throws a dazzling smile and asks, “Latte?” Noticed the adjective dazzling? No, I am not exaggerating. Screw lungs, in that moment, my heart must have pumped all the blood in my body to my cheeks. I try to show every tooth in my mouth in the best way I can. Too busy managing my red cheeks, I obviously can’t find voice in my voice box so I simply nod yes. My brain retorts angrily, “Stop blushing, you idiot!”

I might try to be and sound all mature and wise like most of the time. But say one word nicely and I will transform into this idiot before I know it. I stop blushing on my brain’s order and go back to my book – Go set a watchman. A wonderful line catches my attention.  Jean Louise, who is now all grown up (or maybe not) says this to her lover, “Once you get past all the boa feathers, every woman born in this world wants a strong man who knows her like a book, who’s not only her lover but he who keepeth Israel. Stupid, isn’t?”

I am jostled into a similar track of thought, “Stupid indeed. But true at the same time – A man who knows her like a book!  A man who not only loves her but he who keepeth Israel. But do all women really want the same thing? I am not really sure. I am sure that I am no different but I am also sure that there must be people out there who are. Not all of us can be the same. We have different genes after all! –

I am pushed out of my thought realm when the waiter returns with a cup of latte and throws that smile again. Stop it with that? Will you? I blush again and scold myself for being such an obvious teenager. I return to my book hoping that I would find some shelter away from my stupidity there.

All women want the same thing. All women act the same way. You think you are different but you are not. You think you are special but you are not. If that’s true then the concept of one true love shouldn’t exist at all.

God, you are overthinking.

The pages turn to chapters, chapters turn to parts. All that is left in my cup is the ghost of a steaming hot coffee; the leftover foam on the edges. All that is left in my head are the Negroes in Maycomb County. On the saucer plate lays two small packets of sugar that sit as if troubled, in fact, horrified by my refusal to consume them. Keeping them company is a destitute piece of crumpled tissue paper that is too hopeless to even complain. I guess the only happy members at my table are the book and the empty glass of water. I realize that it’s been two hours and I decide to leave. I make my way to the counter. I find the same waiter there. How lovely.  He smiles (Oh god that smile) and asks my name. I tell him and before I could even realize what just happened, he has thrown in other questions. I don’t hesitate to reply them all but at the same time my brain makes an ironic enquiry, “What is wrong with your choice?”

This question isn’t asked by the part which often admonishes me over how my priorities are not arranged right in life. And if they are, how I always seem to follow the ascending order rather than the descending one. The question isn’t asked by the fundamentalist part of me who absolutely refuses to acknowledge my mild attack of pervert-ness. The question is not asked by the classist, who I think, lives in the fantasy world where I have royal blood flowing through my arteries. This question isn’t asked by the part who often tells me, in a rather hurtful tone, that I am a young woman with ambitions so I mustn’t  invest my attention, efforts and time on the things that don’t really matter – like opposite gender. I am in search of satisfaction, meaning, happiness, not a groom or even a boring company for a night. For what you know, he says, loneliness comes and goes. (But does it?) This question isn’t asked by the motivational speaker in my head who doesn’t ironically speak much but when he does he makes sure that I am aware of the fact that I deserve absolute best and nothing a decimal point less.

So, who has asked this question? I am sure I heard it in my head! Well, it has been asked by that part, the most interesting part, my best friend who keeps me company all the time. “What is wrong with your choice?” Oh no, it is NOT talking about my choice here. It’s his – the guy talking to me at the counter.

***

 

 

food for thought, humour, Things that I don't understand

Things that I don’t understand

  1. Fluid mechanics. Office politics. And heart.

Heart because I remember how I waited for this day like one waits for a train when he is in absolute hurry; when he looks at his watch so frequently that his growing impatience is almost invoking in him crazy ideas for genocide. I have waited for this day in such maniacal manner and yet now when I am finally here, unbelievably close to the milestone that I had been dreaming of crossing, when that train has ultimately arrived at the platform, I can’t put my apprehensions aside. Suddenly in my hands, there is a long list of things that can go terribly wrong. It’s ironic because it’s too late to turn back now. I have boarded the train and I have no intention of getting off of it. If you had to make such kind of treacherous argument, heart, you should have spoken a little early! Why heart, why would you make this 180 degree turn now? What can you possibly gain from this? Oh wait, how could I forget! Heart isn’t a selfish guy. He doesn’t care about losing or gaining. What irk the heart most are the things that are going smoothly! I guess you yearn for a sudden change of plans again but no, my dearest friend, the great H! –  There is no other option but to continue driving ahead. I hate to tell you this but it is how it is.

Remember how happy we both once were, like till yesterday? Now, my steps are small and slow. Thanks to you, I am weak in my knees because of my nervousness, mild panic and a sudden deficiency of excitement. Where, where, where in the name of holy city of Jerusalem has my excitement disappeared to? How could you possibly assert that I am going to miss this? Look at me – Last week at office and I am running around in the shop-floor getting the material stock ready on SAP so that I could get them invoiced – subsequently meeting customer’s requirement – either that or forcibly pushing our sale target on their faces (regardless of the fact whether they want it or not) so that we could reduce our inventory. Forget what is and what is not in my scope of work. It’s my last week and instead of drafting my farewell speech (Not that I was going to do it anyway) I am dodging through my last minute fuck-ups. I am not good at what I am expected to do here. I am less of a god and more of a human. And clearly that makes me under-qualified for my job. I am required to have my brain running in exactly ten thousand three hundred and fourteen directions at the same time. As a project manager and future god everything that doesn’t make sense or gives  you suicidal/ homicidal tendencies are fed to you on regular basis to be digested, to be processed and to be used up in producing platinum quality shit as the ultimate outcome of the process. Maybe I am being too harsh. But I must be! Or else heart can paint this in red and white too. And what will be the tagline? “The good old days”

“But wasn’t it, in some smaller scale, if not good then ‘not that bad’ old days? Maybe?”

Maybe it wasn’t that bad. So, what does this mean that this thing was the best we could hope for? Is that what you are trying to say?

“Not necessarily,” my heart retorts conjoining a different argument altogether, “I am just amazed at how happy we seemed to be parting from here. I am amazed because some months ago the thought of being a part of this place brought us joy. How things change! Or rather how we change! I am just wondering how our emotions are constantly evolving into another so rapidly!”

Classic move; change the topic. Well played, Mr.H. Well, time changes things. Time changes perspectives. Time changes our need. Hence, time must NOT be underestimated. That’s what I can to add to this.

My heart doesn’t reply. And with its speechlessness, comes my supernatural ability to hear the unspoken. I will miss it. Here, take my confession on a silver platter. “Devour upon it,” if I just may. Is it delicious enough? Why am I bidding adieu with such incomprehensible set of emotions? Wait. Don’t answer. Leave it. I give up the fight. As always, heart will win anyway. So, I am going to wake up tomorrow and it won’t be because of the alarm set at 7:00 AM, I am not going to run to the bus stop, I am not going to see those emails or calls which make me lose faith in humanity, I am not going to pull my hair over stupid arguments and I am not going to secretly shed anger tears in the washroom, I am not NOT going to attend calls intentionally, I am not going to doodle in “supposedly” important meetings, I am not going to curse my safety shoes, I am not going to consider killing myself over my stupidity and general fuck-ups, I am not going to make that follow up call for the tenth time in the day, I am not going to have tea at 11 or 4, I am not going to gaze at the two calendars at my desk and wonder about my last working day, I am not going to draw on the whiteboard at my cubicle or everybody else’s cubicle for that matter, I am not going to have breakfast  over a span of half an hour chatting with my closest friend, I am not going to miss being praised for my unexpected achievements, I am not going to have my account credited monthly, I am not going to meet my close colleagues at office, I am not going to be made fun of at lunch by them, I am not going to get to hear any new office gossips, I am not going to be spending as carelessly as I spent till now, I am not going to carry my laptop bag everywhere (no, actually I will), I am not going to be delighted by the watch when it shows  5:30 PM and I am not going to experience the joy of returning home at the end of the day. I guess I have the tendency to get attached to the complete package of both dreadful and wonderful things of things. But at the end of it all, like life, like people, like so many other pieces of my writing, lays an irony. If I hadn’t decided to leave, I wouldn’t have been writing this and you would have still found me with my signature gloomy & grumpy face yet again. You would have found me complaining about how I have to go through this ordeal every day and how desperately I would like to change this. I would tell you repeatedly that I hate it. I would tell you repeatedly that maybe I don’t. Nevertheless, I would say, things must change. Well, things have changed. Congratulations. And my signature gloominess?  Well, it’s still there.

I bid adieu with a heavy heart. Heavy maybe because of my apprehensions. Heavy maybe because of my insecurities. Heavy maybe also because of gratitude. Gratitude towards each and every person who has been there, who has entered & made an exit, who has stayed or who is about to go, who will maybe come back or maybe who won’t, who has smiled, who has loved, who has hated, who has helped, who has made my life miserable – for all those people I bear nothing in my heart but gratitude. Maybe I am being more sentimental than I ought to be. But these two years have meant more to me than I would ever admit. This is what I don’t understand.

*

 

 

30 Days writing challenge

Day Thirty One – The last one

I had the hardest time thinking about what to write in this one. It’s the last one, after all! How should it be?
Should it be a happy one?
A hopeful one?
A weird one?
A sad one?
A grateful one?
A special one?

Of course, I couldn’t figure it out. So, pardon me for being a bit insolently happy that here it ends. Here, take a lazy one! Thank the fuck god.

***

AUTHOR’S LITTLE NOTE:
This blog series is a part of a 30 Days writing challenge, which is as depicted by the picture below (Special thanks to Pinterest):
Writing challenge - May'17
30 Days writing challenge, Poetry

Day Thirty – Sunglasses

I can see people looking at you
(Myself included)
I am busy finding flaws in the perfect shade of your lipstick
My jealousy refusing to admit my futile efforts in doing so
My weeping flats and your proud stilettos,
My over-sized jeans and your figure embracing dress,
My disheveled backpack and your ultra-stylish handbag,
My neglected hair and your pampered locks of ocean waves
How do I stop making note of these stupid details?
Of how I keep glancing through my nerdish unclean spectacles
At your insanely seductive and infuriating sunglasses.
You, beautiful witch.

*

AUTHOR’S LITTLE NOTE:
This blog series is a part of a 30 Days writing challenge, which is as depicted by the picture below (Special thanks to Pinterest):
Writing challenge - May'17
30 Days writing challenge, Poetry

Day Twenty Nine – Nom de plume

Nom de plume
For escaping into being someone you wish to,
Or into someone you wish you weren’t,
Or someone you truly are
Or someone you simply aren’t
Or for those stories
which your name can’t associate with itself,
For your cowardice and enigma
Or simply for your general dissatisfaction against your original nomenclature.

Nom de plume.

*

AUTHOR’S LITTLE NOTE:
This blog series is a part of a 30 Days writing challenge, which is as depicted by the picture below (Special thanks to Pinterest):
Writing challenge - May'17
30 Days writing challenge, Poetry

Day Twenty Seven – The Cork

The cork
Parts of which lay tragically sunk in my wine
So, I use a sieve while pouring us a glass,
But even then you may be required to ignore the grainy texture,
And the weird taste of the cork wood
Which again I hope you wouldn’t mind
And instead take this moment
To laugh at my little stupidity;
How a seemingly simple opening act
Can go so horribly wrong
Like most of the things in life,
But we can still choose to drink the wine anyway.
And maybe
Even savior it.

*

AUTHOR’S LITTLE NOTE:
This blog series is a part of a 30 Days writing challenge, which is as depicted by the picture below (Special thanks to Pinterest):
Writing challenge - May'17
30 Days writing challenge, Poetry

Day Twenty Six – The Black Ink

The black ink
Printing an accidentally smeared finger on the page,
Visible from the dyes seeping into the corners of my nails,
Or the ideas lying uncovered by a few binary signals
Or simply an ugly scribbling at the end of the book –
Is the temptation, the treasure, the teacher,
the possession, the obsession, the expression,
Beautifully spilled
Over the paper
Over the screen
Over my chaotic life
As something miraculously turquoise.

*

AUTHOR’S LITTLE NOTE:
This blog series is a part of a 30 Days writing challenge, which is as depicted by the picture below (Special thanks to Pinterest):
Writing challenge - May'17
30 Days writing challenge, Poetry

Day Twenty Five – Thunder

Is what I would like to steal back from you
If only I could stop sulking in the corner,
Most probably unintentionally ignored
But ignored anyway.
And as you continue to let others drink on your stupid stories
And let them marvel at your amazing ability to hold their attention,
Which by the way, you have brutally snatched away from me in the process
Conveniently overlooking the fact
That originally I was the principal reason for this celebratory gathering,
I would like to curse you a bit more in my head,
While I get more champagne for you and the others,
Refill the glasses,
Throw a charming smile,
And say, “Cheers!”
Bitch.

*

AUTHOR’S LITTLE NOTE:
This blog series is a part of a 30 Days writing challenge, which is as depicted by the picture below (Special thanks to Pinterest):
Writing challenge - May'17