Sunday, November 04, 2007

Of little stories in between


Sometimes, when you’re least aware of it, you look back at the people you knew since the beginning of forever, only to realize how much you’ve painted them in rainbow colours to suit your own rainy day purposes. I once knew a little boy, wide eyed and sharp tongued. He wrote a little story everyday—the same story, very episodic, where he always played the hero. Occasionally I featured in it too, always a small subsidiary sub plot character, never important enough to turn the tide. I don’t think he ever stopped to consider me as a real character, or gave it a second thought whether I was in it or not. It meant something to me though, to see my name in one, after several dry chapters. Not a great, earth-shattering deal, but something, nevertheless.
Pretty soon, we went our separate ways. He moved along to change the world, or something equally important as that. Before leaving, he gave me a bunch of scrap paper filled with incomprehensible doodles. I took it, feeling terribly important, certain that they meant ‘something’. At the lonely, deserted station with its early morning smells, I saw his lean self bent almost double with the weight of his faithful red rucksack, walking towards the train, and out of my little coloured world, without a second look behind. My eyes shone with the possibilities he was capable of. I don’t think he could even remember if I wore glasses or not.

His crumpled parting gift was lost in transit when I changed houses. And so were his memories and curious stories as I flitted in and out of unsatisfied lives and people. I learnt singing and took up pottery. I met somebody amazing and lost him in transit too. I gave piano lessons to the girl next door and learned how to bake the most perfect carrot and cheese cake. Occasionally, and never to deeply, I allowed myself to ponder over roads not taken, and dreams not fulfilled. A little self-pity, a little self-loathing, a little looking back. I thought of all the people I used to know, and wondered if they were worse or better off than I was. All the crazy men and women with music in their laughs and stars in their eyes.
Sometimes when it rained and the world and its neighbour refused to open their doors, I ran along the sidewalk, counting every alternate square, until I reached a hundred. I was content that I had nothing to complain about—no immediate financial worries, the occasional date, the occasional music concert, a monthly visit to the parents, and life seemed to be in order. Thunder and lightning had never quite been my style.
At the cafe, on my way to work, I met a stranger scribbling away furiously on crumpled, ink stained tissue paper. I stopped to talk, because even years of saving the world hadn’t taken away the child like determination from his eyes. He accepted my coffee but refused my muffin. He said, he couldn’t take sweets. As I sat, reading the paper, amidst the hasty scratch of pen on paper, I remembered the little boy with never a special word for me, in whom I believed then, as much as I believed the sun would rise tomorrow. The waiters ignored him as he signalled them weakly—as he walked down the sidewalk, people from all sides seemed to walk through him. In the tube, he muttered furiously, clutching his threadbare jacket, crushing the tissue paper even further.
I confessed that I had lost his doodles somewhere in the flea bitten years. He didn’t blink twice. I doubt he remembered my last name. At the station, he handed me the crumpled manuscript, and asked me to keep it till he returned from the restroom. I waited three whole hours before I ventured to read it. It was the same little boy I had know a few lightyears ago, and the same story, only different chapter. He was still the hero, and I was still nowhere in it. I left the station only after the last train had gone.

Sometimes, on off-days I still go and sit there and watch the trains pass. Occasionally I think I see a dash of red and a proud weather-beaten face amidst a sea of nameless people. But the train leaves before I can be sure. In any case, the red backpack has been lost for years. And the face is off on another adventure, another story, another earth-changing mission. Where he plays the good cop, and I the nameless, faceless person in the sidewalk among thousand others.

6 comments:

Moo-lah Buzinezzz! said...

Is that the story of ur life??
Cuz if it is...it aint really sad,its just plain beautiful....

coffee stain said...

wow.....and thank god i read it in the optimal state of perception... what a ride......right on! and thank you......woah

Ken D said...

Imagery is vivid, vocab could be more polished though... good job, loved it!

Loony Libberswick of Llapland said...

:)
it's just one of those days, isn't it?

Susmita said...

i like the picture you paint...

Mriganayanii said...

I read your words, and images of thousands of colours spring up out of thin air.
Beautiful.