Breakfast Chatter

Breakfast Chatter

 

“You know it almost feels like schools are frozen in time.” Nishant said taking his first sip of the morning coffee.

“Really? How so?” asked Richa, the woman he’d been married to for the past 2 years.

This was the ritualistic early morning breakfast chatter of the young twenty something couple taking place at the dining table in a fairly average sized (some might say tiny) apartment in a busy suburb of the city.

“I mean things never really go through a serious transition in schools, they merely phase out and get replaced once again by more of the same.”

Richa took another sip from her cup and gulped some coffee down before replying “Oh God! Is this going to be one of those mornings when you’re going to wax philosophical and that’s supposed to have a profound impact on me for the rest of my day and when we return home in the evening I’m supposed to tell you how what you said changed the way I look at everything?”

“What? No! Wait, is that how you perceive it when I pour out my innermost feelings to you?” shot back Nishant.

“Well, it’s kind of becoming a pattern of late. But never mind. Continue with your school theory. I’m still not clear what you mean.” Replied Richa carefully averting what might’ve turned into a source of argument in an alternate timeline.

Nishant suddenly took a straighter, more alert posture ready to put forth something of extreme importance. “Haan, so what I mean is every classroom of every school will have the naughty kid, the problem child, the teacher’s pet, the athlete, the class clown, the reticent arts & crafts enthusiast, the bully, and the one who lags behind. Exact same thing with the teachers. There’s always the hard-nosed strict one who gets the most colourful of nicknames, there’ll be the lenient understanding one who’ll be the favourite of the introverted students, the sadistic P.T teacher who loves to make overweight students sweat, the boring one whose very breathing pattern makes for a soothing lullaby, and the out of date senile one who’s still clinging on to their job solely on the merit of their seniority. The peons have and will always keep bringing cups of tea, the text books are never brand new, the assembly time hymns keep blending into one humdrum monotone. Generations change, decades go by, but it all stays the same.”

Richa tried to keep a straight face as best as she could, letting her husband have his moment before putting forth her response.

“Well, is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

Nishant clicked his tongue.

“You’re missing my point. It’s not about good or bad. It just stays the same regardless. That is my point.”

Richa blinked her eyes twice.

“Oh! I thought you were going somewhere with this.”

Nishant sighed and then got up from the table with a slight jolt.

“I’d love to sit and tell you more but I’m late for work and frankly you’re not really my target audience. One day I shall put all my thoughts in a book and publish it, and then the world will nod in agreement. “

“Ooooh! Low blow honey.” Replied Richa before advancing to kiss her husband goodbye. The rest of the day beckoned and in a few minutes she’d leave for work herself.

That day Richa asked the cab driver to take an alternate route to work. One that passed by her old school.

 

 

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The Conversation

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“So what is creativity?” asked Yin to Yang who was sitting across the table.

Yang looked up from the book he was reading and replied “Well, it’s pretty much in the name itself innit? Creating something out of nothing.”

“So if a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat, is that creativity?”  shot back Yin.

“Yes sure, why not? He just pulled off a trick to produce something out of thin air that wasn’t present a second ago through a procedure that’s rather awe inspiring.” replied Yang

“But the magician isn’t really creating the rabbit is he? The rabbit was born free to it’s mother in the jungle or in captivity at the zoo. All the magician did was through a tawdry trick he gave the audience an illusion that a rabbit was produced out of thin air. If anything, all he really did was place the rabbit from one point of existence to another. How’s that creativity?” inquired Yin.

“Well the magician did invent the path that had to be taken for the rabbit to move from point A to B, across dimensions of time and plane to finally pop out of his hat. That meticulous imagining, planning & execution can quite as well be considered creative.” answered Yang calmly.

Yin sat up straight all of a sudden “So hold on! It isn’t so much the ‘creating something out of nothing’ aspect as much as it is the imagining and execution of an idea, a thought, that didn’t exist before that’d constitute creativity eh?”

“I guess you could say that.” Yang answered.

“Well then what about pain?” said Yin.

“What about it?” asked Yang, confused.

“Can pain be creative?”

“What kind of a stupid question is that?”

“Why not? I mean think about it. I can literally create pain right here right now. If I pinch you I am creating physical pain in your body, and if I say something really mean & hurtful to you this instant I am creating pain in your mind, & heart am I not? I am creating something that wasn’t here a second ago, something out of nothing. Why don’t that qualify as creativity Yang?”

Yang seemed a little taken aback, probably for the first time in the conversation. “Well because creativity by virtue is bound to make people feel good, inspire them…erm…make them feel that the impossible can be achieved or some such”

“Says who?” shot back Yin vehemently.

“Says all of  literature and art through history. Look, people have shitty lives. They need escapism, a little space where they can lose themselves and find a consolation that things will turn out to be all right eventually, that’s the purpose of creativity.

“That’s bull” said Yin. “Pick up any renowned piece of literature & art that has withstood the test of time, you’ll find pain and torture is an integral part of them, what of the great tragedies? Of the biblical tales of pain and suffering? Face it, people don’t crave for an escape where  everything’s nice and shiny. No, they want to witness in their minds a scenario where someone else is facing an ordeal much more deadly than their real life ones. They want to feel scared is what. A sadistic pleasure that is obtained from watching someone else’s suffering”

Yang sighed. It was one of his charging up sighs which meant he was getting ready to say something long and meaningful. Well,  meaningful to himself at least.

“Look. You’re mixing up things now. Pain and fear are different. Pain can be the cause of fear. And fear is the most deadly when it’s unexpected innit? Fear if desired will have the exact opposite effect of what it would have elicited in it’s natural form. N–”

“Aha! So you do admit people want to be feared!” interrupted Yin.

Yang’s voice rose for the first time in the conversation “Would you let me complete what I was saying you nefarious fool? Now, wanting to feel fear or wanting to witness somebody who is going through a tougher ordeal than you are in your real life also signifies the inherent need of wanting to see the individual overcome those obstacles and fears which in turn would encourage you to treat your “real” life problems inconsequential enough to be faced. So there you go. Pain, suffering and yes. fear is an essential part of creativity because it also gives you the way out.”

A sarcastic smile spread over Yin’s face “You know it’s heartening to see the mundane illusions and sand castles you have built around your head to satisfy yourself with your points of view Yang. Yet, It will be even more heartening to see your face one day when your illusion shatters and reality spits it’s acidic fluid in your eyes. Till then enjoy your stay in the fantastical realms of romanticism. Hehe!”

Yang gave Yin a dejected look and said “Very well then, as always let us cordially agree to disagree. Now, if you don’t mind I’d like to get back to my reading. Thank you very much” and he went back to dig his head inside his book.

The next few minutes were made up of absolute silence with only the ticking of a clock (the rhyme and rhythm of which was quite different from the clocks we are used to) audible to the ears.

That is until Yin broke the silence with

“What about death? Can death be creative?”

“Oh Jeez! Not again.” was the only reply Yang could muster.

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The Forbidden Rose

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Up on the snowy mountains, higher than one can imagine, as the blizzard was slowly coming to a halt the man arrived. His ragged boots trundling through the thick snow making clear marks. His emotionless face determined to do the task at hand. The climb to the top had been as hard as he’d imagined it to be, a trifle harder perhaps but he knew it from the very beginning he was going to make it. Not a bone in his body ever opposed it. Right where he was standing was where this deed had to be done. From the looks of it, this place could have been the last point on earth. Pure whiteness was spread to as far as he could see. The man was devoid of feeling guilt, but even in the deepest trenches of his stone cold heart he could feel a tremble when he visualized the horrific deadly deed he was about to commit. The thick fur coat added to his already bulky body mass. He couldn’t remember the last time he had considered the ramifications before carrying out a heinous act, for a split second he doubted if he had ever done so. But this was how the way of the world was. What had to be done, had to be done. The time had come, he wouldn’t let the fake splendour of innocence, love and compassion rot his mind. The time had come.

He put his large, brawny gloved hand inside his coat pocket and took out the rose. The loveliest rose the universe had laid its eyes upon. The man gave it the most disgusting, apathetic, and cruel look that he was capable of. One would’ve imagined that the rose would probably wither away and die solely based on the merit of that filthy look, but it somehow resisted. If anything its red petals seemed to bow with a gentle quiver, like responding to it with a smile.

The time had come. In went his beefy hand into the coat pocket again, and this time what came out was a cigarette lighter. One of those weighty, brown metallic ones that were used in the days of old. If one were to observe the lighter closely they would notice faded engravings on it, and if they were to squint their eyes and look at the engravings in further detail as old people often do when reading to children without their glasses, one would make out the words, which read :- ‘LET ME WIN YOUR HEART AND MIND OR I’LL BURN YOUR GOD DAMN HUT DOWN’. The man flicked the lighter’s thumbwheel and though the lighter looked old and rusty the adamant, orange flame erupted at a single flick making a low ‘whoof!’ sound. The man brought the flame closer to the rose…closer…and closer…now within a kissing distance…

***

Many a mile down on a steep hill equally snowy the monk’s eyes opened wide with a jolt. He was pulled out of the state of pleasant serenity that meditation brought him. He’d been getting the glaring ominous feeling of the beloved rose being in danger, but now he could sense that all of existence was on the brink of destruction. Carnage seemed just a whisper away. Such unrest and panic was way out of place in this abode of silence and snow where he’d been meditating for years. The monk knew he had to act and act quickly. The time had come.

As he entered the ancient monastery his steps accelerated. These monastery walls had seen him grow from a boy with potential to a man of substance. He remembered his spiritual mentor telling him about the ‘Golden room’ and how it must only be ventured into when all of existence seemed at the brink of extinction, and the monk could feel in his bones this was exactly what the dreaded feeling was going to lead to. He stood in front of the giant door which had been decorated with oodles of pure gold. In spite of having known of its existence and might the monk was still struck with awe for a few brief seconds before that uneasy, lingering feeling kicked in again and made him realize the urgency of the situation. With some effort the monk pushed open the doors of the secretive Golden room. This was the first time ever that he was stepping inside it in all of the years he had spent in the monastery.

The room was large and empty, apart from a wooden table situated right at the centre. On the table was kept a wooden box and a golden chalice. The monk entered. As soon as he stepped in he co­­­uld feel an unexplainable energy vibrating through the room. Were these his own meandering thoughts that were trying to reverberate back to him? The monk wondered. Steadily he walked up to the table and opened the box. Inside was a rose dried up and withered. To call this the ‘corpse of a rose’ would be more accurate thought the monk to himself. He peered into the golden chalice. Inside was a clear transparent liquid which a commoner might have mistaken for water but the monk’s keen observant eyes noticed the slight fiery tinge that it elicited (as slight as a young boy capturing a glance of a stranger from behind the window curtain). The monk looked around the room again just to rectify if he was missing something. His eyes came back to the golden chalice and he felt the vibrating energy marginally quickening its pulse. He picked up the chalice with his right hand, cupped his left one and poured some of the chalice’s liquid in it. Then, very gently he sprinkled it over the ‘corpse of the rose’ that lay in the box.

As the first drop of the liquid made contact with the withered rose there was a brief, momentary spark & then the monk saw a tiny petal regain its pretty redness & come back to life. The monk repeated the procedure. Tiny droplets of the fiery liquid on to the dead rose were resurrecting it from the lifeless, crumpled waste that it had become. The ritual had begun…

***

The sparks from the lighter had only begun to engulf the flower into their menacing grip and the man was beginning to get that strange feeling which consisted of triumph & malaise in equal measure every time he committed a heinous act such as this. The lovely red petals were quickly turning into burnt ash, and just as the man was about to throw this burning flower on the snow and walk away leaving it in the throes of the fire, something changed. It seemed like the rose was fighting back. There were tiny fiery explosions with crackling noises as if this was not a rose being set on fire but firewood of some sort. More importantly though to the man’s horror he was finding it extremely difficult to let go of the rose now. It was as if this fiery rose had now got a strong grip on him instead of it being the other way round. The fire was now turning mightier and violent and its audacity much beyond what a flower catching fire should have emanated. And then it got worse. The fire seemed to growing stringy, fiery tentacles out of itself, and they began to wrap themselves around the man’s bulky body. If someone were to see this scene from a little far away he or she would mistake a heavy set man struggling with a glowing, fiery (and an out of control) little octopus in the palm of his hand. The man was baffled. Just when he was on the brink of attaining his black heart’s desire it was all going to fall apart.  He decided to himself that he won’t go down without a fight.

He tried to break free with all his strength, but the more force he applied the more he felt the fiery tentacles tighten around him. His furry coat was catching fire. At that precise moment a thought which had probably never crossed the man’s mind before occurred to him with deafening clarity: “I’m running out of time”. What was this magic? The man’s brain tried to go through all the spells, the charms, & the curses he had learnt to counter. Deep down in the recesses of his brain he could remember hearing about this kind of magic a mighty long time ago…but it was ancient…nobody could ever perform it now…nobody except–

Before he could complete this thought a fiery string which resembled more a lasso than a tentacle came straight for his throat. With the glowing rope wrapped and burning around his throat there was no more room left for rational thought in his head. He knew his time had come. What had to be done will be done. He collapsed to his knees & let himself be engulfed by the fire. The last thought that was on his mind before he passed away was: “Isn’t it ironic? I shall die burnt by fire in a land surrounded by frozen water.

***

The monk shut the heavy doors of the golden room with some effort. He was panting due to all the exhaustion. He stood back and let the magnitude of what he had just done sink in for a while. How many generations had longed to perform ‘the ritual’ & had passed away, how many furthermore had even discarded it as just a myth. He’d expected if at all he ever got to perform something of this significance it would change him from the inside out. Maybe it had, maybe he would discover it in the days to come, or at least whatever was left of them. For now though the monk stepped out of the monastery and went back to his favourite spot on that steep, snowy cliff. He sat down cross legged, blew the crushed pieces of rose petals that were in his palm and lost himself in the throes of meditation once again.

THE END

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