Breaking the Silence

Right now, my life seems to be tumbling around in a complete whirlwind. If I tilt my head a bit and look at it, it might seem like it’s rolling in perfect harmony. That’s how fine the line really is.

Two and a half days of embracing misery. Two and a half days of being delirious. One day of being up and about. One day of dreading the tomorrow. That sums up my week. Perfect harmony.

Not to romanticize my angst as I do often, the facts are what I’m sure very familiar to most people reading this blog. I want to quit my job. I need to do something I love. I’m unsure of what I love. I’m scared of making the jump. I’m unsure of what next. And the wheels whirr away in my small head all day long.. no dude, it’s not a happy place. This stuff takes up 80% of my waking hours and at least 50% of the non-waking ones. At last count, I was dreaming about running away from office like Nattha of Peepli Live. Like, literally running away. Don’t be worried; it’s not like I’ll need to run, I’m sure my colleagues would be able to cough up a little more maturity than that (we can hope).

But all’s not sorrowful around here. I’ve had my happy times. Like watching Callum replicate a chocolate & caramel parfait dessert on Masterchef Australia. Or ending up chatting with a cousin late into the night. Receiving books as Rakhi goodies. Cooking rajma-chawal for the first time.

Anyhoo, here’s a question that came to my mind today. Why do people tag someone – usually a celebrity – on Twitter to say something negative about them? You can follow other people, you can like what they say or dislike it, and you may want to criticize it. That part’s what I understand. But I do not understand an ‘opinion’ like ‘@Chetan_Bhagat is an a$$hole’. I recoil every time I see such a comment. It makes me very, very apprehensive about Twitter as a medium. Educated people hurling personal abuses because they can. It validates so many concepts we claim to not understand. It explains mob mentality, racism, masochism, trollism on blogs. It tells me that everytime you have a semi-anonymous mask and a sea of faces to hide behind and no real consequences to face, you’d peek out, make a cowardly comment and scurry away quickly. Anyone here think differently?

Other than this, nothing to say except that I hope to be more regular here. Oh, two things though. One is a half-written story I abandoned long back, on which I need all kinds of feedback- good and bad. The other is a poem I chanced upon and loved, so thought I’d share – anyone read it before?

********** 

Cacophany

10:35 a.m.

Karen stepped into the lift, wondered if the vendor would indeed have bought her logic and sent her a quote in such a short time as she had requested in her email last night, glanced at the watch one more time damning it for being in such a hurry, scanned the faces around her, and stared at the floor indicator panel. Every time she did that, it made her believe her gaze made the lift go up faster and stop only at her office floor next. She stepped out and as the clicking of heels broke the silence in the lobby, she fished in her bag for the access card. One quick glance at the watch: 10:38 a.m. That meant seven minutes to print everything and be ready for the meeting. Quickly throwing her bag in an empty chair in the last bay, she set up her laptop and opened her mailbox. Ah, there was the vendor’s reply. One less thing to argue over in the review meeting. Scanning one last time through her presentation, she selected 4 copies, hit ‘Print’, and then noticed a typo in the fifth slide. Veriable, and not Veritable. They can live with that, she thought. Sometimes her complacence startled her, sometimes it became a cause for self-congratulation for her in some small sense for it meant coming of age in the corporate world, maybe? Waiting for the printer’s loud whirring to stop echoing through the corridor, she saw Priya walk in. Her right shoulder bent over awkwardly, with the laptop bag hanging low. The other hand more occupied with a paper bag, an umbrella and her half-open wallet. From halfway across the passage, she called “Coffee?” Karen shook her head, walked over to Priya’s desk as the whirring renewed for the third time. “After the meeting. Just printing out the deck.” Priya tried to plug in her charger while still shaking the half-dry umbrella and for some reason holding on to her paper bag too in the same hand. Karen fought the urge to tell her to take it easy. Who can tell newbies that their relentless multi-tasking isn’t always making them look super-human?

Karen collected the papers at the printer, and stapled the decks hurriedly glancing over them one last time. She braced herself for the inevitable “brainstorming” and walked quietly into the conference room. Only Suresh was there, much like all the other times. Scrolling his blackberry hypnotically like it was some sort of a casino slot machine, she thought. He looked up, did the half-nod-with-pursed-lips thing Karen always found difficult to decipher, and went back to the scrolling before waiting for her to respond. Just as well for her, she thought. She had so little to talk with him, it seemed like all their previous conversations had been exactly the same.

Damn, forgot the charger!  “Hey Priya, quick favour. Could you please get me my laptop charger? It’s on my desk. Thanks!” As Priya entered, Karen noticed Suresh’s smiling-and-not-pursed-lips, wave-and-not-half-nod accompanying a cheery ‘Good Morning’. Someone’s all crushed, thought Karen. But before she could roll her eyes to finish that thought, she saw Priya return The Look too. Okay then. Just as Priya rushed out, but not before running into the door and hurting her elbow, Shiv walked in giving Priya an amused glance – he just couldn’t believe this mite of a girl was on his team, and that she was doing good work. For no good reason other than her goofy demeanour.

Much though he denied it without being asked, Shiv was prejudiced in many ways and also unapologetic about it – it was a gift of his position, as he saw it. And there was no reason for the others to adopt this attitude, till they did something to earn it.  Suresh stood up and Karen couldn’t help but frown at his hierarchically selective reverence, waiting for Shiv to deflate his misplaced sense of professionalism. One of the things going for Shiv was he could see through pretenses and wanted to see through them.

 

 *********

Nemesis by H. P. Lovecraft
Published 1 November 1917

Through the ghoul-guarded gateways of slumber,
  Past the wan-mooned abysses of night,
I have lived o'er my lives without number,
  I have sounded all things with my sight;
And I struggle and shriek ere the daybreak,
being driven to madness with fright.

I have whirled with the earth at the dawning,
  When the sky was a vaporous flame;
I have seen the dark universe yawning
  Where the black planets roll without aim,
Where they roll in their horror unheeded,
  without knowledge or lustre or name.

I had drifted o'er seas without ending,
  Under sinister grey-clouded skies,
That the many-forked lightning is rending,
  That resound with hysterical cries;
With the moans of invisible daemons,
  that out of the green waters rise.

I have plunged like a deer through the arches
  Of the hoary primordial grove,
Where the oaks feel the presence that marches,
  And stalks on where no spirit dares rove,
And I flee from a thing that surrounds me,
  and leers through dead branches above.

I have stumbled by cave-ridden mountains
  That rise barren and bleak from the plain,
I have drunk of the fog-foetid fountains
  That ooze down to the marsh and the main;
And in hot cursed tarns I have seen things,
  I care not to gaze on again.

I have scanned the vast ivy-clad palace,
  I have trod its untenanted hall,
Where the moon rising up from the valleys
  Shows the tapestried things on the wall;
Strange figures discordantly woven,
  that I cannot endure to recall.

I have peered from the casements in wonder
  At the mouldering meadows around,
At the many-roofed village laid under
  The curse of a grave-girdled ground;
And from rows of white urn-carven marble,
  I listen intently for sound.

I have haunted the tombs of the ages,
  I have flown on the pinions of fear,
Where the smoke-belching Erebus rages;
  Where the jokulls loom snow-clad and drear:
And in realms where the sun of the desert
  consumes what it never can cheer.

I was old when the pharaohs first mounted
  The jewel-decked throne by the Nile;
I was old in those epochs uncounted
  When I, and I only, was vile;
And Man, yet untainted and happy,
  dwelt in bliss on the far Arctic isle.

Oh, great was the sin of my spirit,
  And great is the reach of its doom;
Not the pity of Heaven can cheer it,
  Nor can respite be found in the tomb:
Down the infinite aeons come beating
  the wings of unmerciful gloom.

Through the ghoul-guarded gateways of slumber,
  Past the wan-mooned abysses of night,
I have lived o'er my lives without number,
  I have sounded all things with my sight;
And I struggle and shriek ere the daybreak,
  being driven to madness with fright.
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13 thoughts on “Breaking the Silence

  1. Loved the detail of your story! Somehow I never manage to get much detail.. usually my focus goes building the plot, and forgetting how these details make the narration so much more interesting.

    And the yesterdays dessert that Callum made was so so awesome! I was drooling all the time 😀

    • Oh, I get only the detail.. the plot goes for a toss. In fact, it’s slightly disturbing because there’s no plot 😀

      I actually have a rather inappropriate crush on Callum.. something about a geeky, shy, nervous guy who can cook brilliantly 😀

  2. Loving the ‘unfinished’ story.
    Just one suggestion, if I may 🙂 Break up the stuff into paragraphs, makes it easy to read and also ideas come out better. Just an opinion.

    I am yet to understand the poem fully – so will not comment on that 🙂

  3. Where is the remaining half of the story ? 🙂 Did keep me on my toes.

    Too much detail ? But then, this comment would not qualify unless its taken in context with the overall story. Kindly complete it irrespective of the feedback 😉

  4. I like the story. I like stories where the little personality details of the characters start coming in early so that you can start walking in their shoes right from the start. Hope to see more of it

  5. OMG, that thing about twitter was going on in my head a little while back, and I almost started typing a post on it. People can be so vicious especially about celebrities and if it’s someone rather unpopular, the mob mentality shines through.
    I haate twitter for all the cynicism and negativity that gets thrown around. Argh.

    • I’m glad you also thought the same.. I was almost feeling a bit haggard, since it’s so young, cool and spunky to do that sort of thing. I really don’t like much of Chetan Bhagat’s writings or his columns that he used to tweet links about, but I wouldn’t tell him to go die – I unfollowed him though. For once, I think I’m not doing the wrong thing.

      There are people who tweet about how work/ colleagues are getting to them, and they feel frustrated. And then, they do something like this to a celebrity. Only goes to show that when it’s someone you know personally and meet everyday, you feel forced to show a little more courtesy than if it’s someone you’re probably never gonna meet. I think I’ve finally found the definition of ‘lack of character’ in such people.

  6. Hey awesome start. The details bit. I dont do that 🙂 Also, I think exactly the same about wanting to do something on my own and not knowing what to do. There are a lot of ideas floating around. Wanna hear some? Maybe we could do something together 😉

    • YUSS, I do wanna hear what’s on your mind. Do put in an email no?

      On the story, I get the details bit, but I start with a very vague idea of the entire plot.. so it’s always long (because of all the details) and likely to remain incomplete (because of the lack of direction)

      And I love your stories.. really really well-written.

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