Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sufferer

I wish I were you
My hands tremble for I fear that they have lost their wizardry. A man's but single thread to the Unnamed joy is fraying and what can he do but watch. He summons bold strengths and bolder determination, and pauses. Why should they come merely because I have summoned? I look towards the door and back at the blank sheet of paper. I invoke past misfortunes and misdeeds to explain my pen's frigid ink. How I have enjoyed the black on white, like the arranged tresses of a maiden's tale! Now a curl here and a stroke taking flight to shrink into a spot above a swimmer emerging from the pool, thus a "j". 
I smile but the parchment is unscathed. Not a wrinkle appears on this choking whiteness under my nose. I pray, I plead, I threaten, I feign mock anger and turn away to look at some carved piece of wood from Brazil. The man's eyes are narrow and he sees less of the world (blessed soul). His lips are pursed though wide - he must have spoken a lot before he realised the futility of it all. He locks his arms across his puny chest, refusing to let his heart belong to this world and its myriad leeches - his heart shant bleed for them. His nose is chipped and green (actually, most of him is either green or green when I squint my eyes) but he doesn't care about it. He seems to be looking at my barren whiteness and then back at me. 
"Aren't you a writer?" he asks.
"I don't know."
"True."
I wait for him to continue, but he doesn't. He sings a song from his motherland and whips his head to the beat of his chant. His voice climbs the strength of human skill and his eyes fill with green dew. He hums his song to sleep and returns to his earlier composure.
"Did you understand what I sang?"
"No."
"True."
He turns towards me and smiles.
"No one understands that song, my friend, not even he who wrote it."
"Did you write it?"
"As it is today, yes."
"How could you then not understand it?"
"Because all I did was sing it."
He looks at the paper and raises his splinter eyebrows towards it.
"You are a writer?"
"I try."
"Then you aren't."
He pauses and hums a line from his song, or so I thought.
"How much of life have you understood, my friend?"
"Very little"
"But you have lived it all so far?"
"Yes?"
"How could you then not understand it?"
"Because all I did was try."
"True."
He takes out a flute from the woodwork of his thigh, and proceeds to play a tune. I believe I had heard it before and try to fix that familiarity in my mind when he suddenly stops.
"Sing with me."
"Now?"
"Yes."
"To your tune?"
"Yes."
"But I do not know a song of that tune."
"Sing."
And he starts to play. I watch the green of his body throb with the air of the forest he had once belonged to. The green moves and dances over his torso and I sing a song of the winds that blow through the rainforests. I sing in the tongue of the creepers and falling leaves. I let the rays peeking through the green sky form the beats of my song as the words sway to the melody of his flute. 
"What ails you, my friend?"
"Lifelessness in life."
"What am I to say of that? I am but a piece of wood."
"True, but how different is that from being a human being?"
"You can write and be a writer. I can't."
"Neither can I."
"True."
He replaced the flute before continuing.
"Where did life lose its wetness?"
"In ignorance."
"But isn't that what makes you alive?"
"It is that which makes you see that you are alive to all but yourself."
"Write me a verse; on my back."
And he turns around and looks in the same direction as I did.
"But I can't."
"Why?"
"Life has drained me of words and joy and beauty. What is a verse without these?"
"Honest?"
"Honest? There is nothing honest that has been spared the touch of man. Even man's need to be honest has metamorphosed into an ugly snake."
"Then write me a verse about that snake."
"I can't", I shout and fling my pen at him. It enters the soft wood and stays there.
"That is a good start. Go on. Please don't stop."
"I have written enough about the dirt of this world."
"Then write about the dunes and falls and bobbing hummingbirds."
"But I can't bleed a word out of me. I have been killed by all and left with a red acid coursing my veins, entering a vial of human residue, cleansed and fountained into the rest of me so that I may live one more minute without knowing why and without wanting to know why."
"But you are a writer."
"No"
"True. Hence, I ask you, write me a verse of the blackest poison that you have drunk from the hands of loved ones. Spell me words with the thorns that pierced every friendly clasp that was extended for you. Twirl phrases coated with the roughest sands that every confidant rubbed on your heart. Can you not?"
With trembling hands, I pluck the pen from his back and draw little flowers on his back. The flowers grow bigger and blossom in various shades of green. I draw golden chords between them and make garlands of them before pushing in stalks of fern between the flowers. A cherry blossom there, a little bird here, bees thrown in for the musical score. I shoo away some stray cows and pin up some of the festoons to form curves of the right height.
"Is that how much life has pained you, my friend?"
"Life doesn't hurt. Lifelessness does."
"True."

6 comments:

  1. Parvati8:55 AM

    Divine Beauty is this post! As a writer you are truly blessed.

    This reminds me of a very short story by Nabokov about a wood sprite. Yours is much deeper since it seems to have stemmed from truth of experience - this impression could well mean that you are a better writer than most and can write fiction as though it were truth; nevertheless, the extreme sorrow, the miasma spread of hopelessness wrapped in a gift of beautiful words and images and language, the class-act of your imagination - all of these make this post and all of your writings a blessing and a joy forever.

    I wanted to pick up parts of the post, lines or paragraphs that moved me especially; but I like all of it very well. All of it is most beautiful and most sincere carrying the light of truth and beauty together. Amazing work in such a short piece!

    Keep writing - it seems that when you are writing, you are in contact with the Supreme Himself, with the ultimate truth of your being, when the rest of the dross in you or outside you vanish lacking substance and support.

    # Wonderful to start the beginning of a long weekend with this post! Thank you. :-)

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  2. Dear P,
    Jesus! Sometimes I wonder whether you are just mocking at me with such generosity! :-o This post was written in such an amoebic state that I had half a mind of deleting. Just before I could, you comment thus making me wonder what really was written. All I could is smile and reply to your comment. Life is weird, isn't it? While it was being formed I thought it to be worthless and now in retrospective, I realise that mindlessness can never be worthless... :-)

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  3. Dear P,
    BTW, thanks for your comments and glad you enjoyed the post... :-)

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  4. Nice post mate :-) ... I wonder if your state of mind still qualifies as writer's block anymore, now that you have written something so well - hehe

    These lines stand out for me personally:

    "How much of life have you understood, my friend?"
    "Very little"
    "But you have lived it all so far?"
    "Yes?"
    "How could you then not understand it?"
    "Because all I did was try."
    "True."


    I loved the impact they had on me as I have often felt the same. Some explanation has come from words of wise men (disclaimer: these words are not verbatim, but come from what I remember and infer from what I have read/heard)

    The reason I cannot understand is because the very act of understanding is the barrier.
    The moment I try to "understand life" - that very moment I separate myself from life/existence - I can only understand something that is separate from me. And the moment I separate myself from life, thats where I start being "different" from life, and the drifting away begins (ego, mind, me, mine, duality etc) ... and then I use my limited perception to "understand", when all I have to do is "encounter" ... I have to "live", not understand.
    This very moment is life! Understanding is of the past and future as it uses something I perceived from experiences in the past to get an understanding so I can expect something similar in "pattern" in the future.
    Therefore, understanding is in the past and future, not in the present - and therein lies the barrier.
    The more I am in the present moment, the more I am one with life.
    And if I am one with life, there is no need to understand anything because I am life itself (soham: I am that)! :-)

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  5. Parvati4:49 PM

    (If I may intrude in Eroteme's comment section) I agree completely with what you have to say, Kartik, that only in identity is there true knowledge; the rest of mind's games of observation, analyses, understanding and concluding are when I am outside something and not IT.

    (To use Eroteme's oft used allegory)When I am the river I don't wonder about its wetness, the degree of it, the speed of its flow, upstream, downstream...I just am that river, I just am life. You have put it very well. Soham seems to be the only way to know and be...

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  6. Dear K,
    Glad you liked the post (though "nice" is subject to several interpretations! ;-). I wouldn't call my state "writer's block". I had written a post about how externalities can affect one's creativity by hampering the essentials. In other words, the drive, ideas and words may be there but the environment can be so toxic that writing simply becomes too stressful. It is like trying to cook a good meal in the midst of gutters and marshlands. No matter how well one might imagine the meal, the air is pukish! :-D
    I agree with you and am glad that Parvatiji also provides her opinion of the same. Being one is vital. Soham indeed!! :-)

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