Monday, January 19, 2015

784,783,782,781 - Fiction: There comes a time (an adaptation of the Draupadi story)

Ember turned the snow globe. Soft snow bits swirled around the tiny Berlin wall. She ran her fingers across the inscription on the glass: ‘The things that are most important must not be at the mercy of things that are least important.’ - Goethe.

What was most important was that book in her head, “5 ways to a rainbow.” What was least important was her list of to-dos that she’d scribbled into her Moleskin. Every undone item from the day before would percolate and spill on to the next day’s list. The usual suspects were mainly two:
(1)    Write one chapter
(2)    Contact Ma

She would underline point no. 1 and put stars around it every single day. All this living in lurches and bouts – she believed – was to ultimately help her write that book. She even had the premise ready and all that. It would be the coming-of-age story of a little girl who grows up in a small village. During her life, she sees how a library and a pawn shop changed her village and the destiny of its inhabitants. The library would…oh wait, there’s no point in writing about this because Ember hasn’t written about it yet. Her ideas ‘5 Ways to a rainbow’ stayed in a corner of her being- ships with folded sails by the shore.

The second item, ‘Contacting Ma’ was a little tricky. It had been 8 years since her mother had last visited her. Ember had opened the door and stood trembling with her fists clenched. In a voice choked with pain and fear, Ember had said, “Either Papa or me, Ma.” Her mother had kissed her and left. Ember hadn’t responded to her mother’s texts or calls after that. A few months later, the communication had stopped. Sometimes, she would sit in front of her plot notes, getting ready to type out her story. And the memory and hurt of her mother leaving would roll over her heart and gut, blocking out any kind of words that may want to come out.

At times, it would pain her so much, to sit like deadweight in front of a story, not being able to even look at the page fully because she’d see it unformed and helpless. Every day, a hundred demands on her time would undrape the one thing she valued so truly. So much.

She’d get up and make coffee. Or glut on sliced cheese. Or peck at the trivialities that Twitter and Facebook fed her. With each detour, time would slip. The sky would turn pink and orange, the sun would set and it would be time to call it a day.

Then there would be days when she would start writing. But a phrase here or a plot formation there would remind her of things: past storms, friends on a swing set, painted nails that got chipped when she’d helped her father fix the door. Door. Father. “Either Papa or me, Ma.” And the writing would stop.

Then, of course, there was the insomnia. That scratchy, restless piece of itchiness that spreads through the blood, thickening, tiring muscles, knotting up fatigue and anxiety and in general, being a nuisance every night. There she’d be on the bed, breathing and feeling her throat. Her father, as a joke one evening, had tied a string around her neck and asked her to get down on all fours. “See, I told you”, he’d shown her mother. “She is my pet.” Ember was six at the time.

Ember found it unfair that she should find it so hard to come out with her damn story. It seemed as if, somewhere, at some point in time, her being had gambled with the Gods and what was at stake and lost was her ability to write. It wasn’t all downhill though. Sometimes, Ember thought that help came in the form of ordinariness. Of days that kept streaming in, cloaking her life with 24 soft-hours in which she could do anything. If she just let it all unravel – the pain, the shame – things would get better. Day would follow night and night would follow day and within the points of that certainty, some days would bring magic. In simple, ordinary ways, she could simply let that ordinariness cloak her. On days that Ember did not kill herself, she would write.

One morning, she did. She asked the demons to wait. She asked the gods to stay out. Ember dusted off the half-chewed, mostly forgotten story and very haltingly, wrote one word. And then another word. And then one more after that and so on. Hours later, a quiet moon shone through the window. Ember got up to warm some soup on the stove. Tomorrow another day would come. Hopefully, she’d remember that things that are most important should not be at the mercy of things that are least important.


She turned the snow globe again. The bits of snow swirled around Berlin. Hadn’t that city brought down the wall?

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