Lost in his own Garden
A piece of fiction, which is there, and yet holds no existence; based on truths, yet alive in stories, it lives and deviates its realities from one’s words to another’s perceptions. It is these perceptions that a raconteur plays with, revealing accounts that create visuals in our minds. How the audience perceives the characters is at the narrator’s leverage. How much fiction is part of a story and how much of it is the truth depends on what he chooses to exaggerate, what he delicately omits, and what point of view is presented.
These works are extracts of Muzzumil’s interactions. Small accounts of situations he has witnessed through living multitudes of lives of people, animals, and inanimate objects. He is divulging the overheard conversations, variations in perceptions of personalities, bigoted confessions of demagoguery, and pretentious prejudiced stories of bravery. The existence of these contradictory contrasts has no significance to their realities but perceptions are never black or white, they exist in a murky grey. Irrespective, these details as usually forgotten as most are lost and tangled living their lives, running towards destinations, lost in their own definitions, perceptions of what they believe to be right.
According to Muzzumil, “far from the constraints of time, in a world where I can be anywhere; I exist, sometimes sitting next to a person, whereas sometimes in the shape of a clock, sometimes in the form of a chair, sometimes a pen, sometimes the wind that wisps past people eavesdropping, and in whatever form, living that moment overhearing conversations, witnessing situations and conversing aggravations.”
He Threw the Watch Away
Knock, knock, the door opens.
“May I come inside?”
“Since when did you feel you needed permission to come inside?”
“No, no, I will need your permission,”
“Why, what are you here for?”
“I have come to take back my time,”
“Wait, let me think, it was such a meaningless thing… god knows where I kept it.”
Memories of Black Stone
The bellowing storm whipped through the station. I sat in the corner of the dank waiting room that overlooked the tracks. The howling winds and merciless rain meant that the power wasn’t going to be up any time soon, and this dark, humid, Indian summer night was going to be a long one.
Lost in contemplation, I saw the train arrive, and as it pulled up to the station, a throng of robotic people swarm out of the train and then, as quickly, into it too. In no time, the station was almost completely deserted again except for a few passengers, those waiting in transit.
The dark was good, I liked it, and it was familiar to me. Suddenly I was dragged back through unforgiving memories of the numerous covert operations my friends and I were apart of and I started wondering to myself, where all of them were, especially, Black stone. He, so beautifully dissolved into nothingness that none of us ever found out where he went. Sixteen years had passed since, I couldn’t believe where all the time had gone…
“Would you have a light?” disturbed a hauntingly familiar voice out of the dark. The familiarity was so compelling that without thinking I said, “Yes, of course”.
As he lit the match, the flash of the flame shone on his face, like a ghost out of the dark, only momentarily, dispersing into the dull searing of his cigarette. He looked at me just for a few fleeting seconds, but I could tell, he did not recognize me, nor would he recognize himself. Black stone seemed to have forgotten, and it seemed that he would not remember even if I tried.
As a historian writer of the royal court his job was to just write everything that came to pass. Everything that was being said, every event that was taking place, and every law that was passed had to be recorded by his hand accurately.
The accuracy of his documentation was vital to those who he served, however as accurate as he was, his most remarkable skill was to be able to record not from his eyes and his mind, but from those perspectives of his lord’s. Where, even when he understood that the laws passed would have no connections or significance to realties, he had to write, as they would perceive it.
Upon his sudden and untimely demise when the locks to his record room were broken it was found that everything had been categorically arranged in order as if it were to be presented to the king.
When the records were opened, it was found, that every event, every discussion, and every record had multitudes of entries. The same event, recorded again and again and again. It was like an investigation of every single event through the eyes of different peoples’ perspectives.
Nowhere to Run
“I feel choked, breathless, this restlessness wont let me be… I need to be elsewhere, anywhere, but here.”
He picked up his bag and stood up. The night had almost ended and the dull morning light was making its way through the sky. The morning due seemed to linger in the air and the rich aroma of the damp red soil of his village was heavy yet. The sun still wasn’t up and everyone else was steeped deep in slumber. It had to be now, or then maybe never.
He softly slipped out of his huge house, never to see it again, taking with him only one picture to remember them by. The journey had begun; it was as if life had begun again. His wanderlust was so addictive that he could not stay in a place, not for long. Every place would lose meaning very quickly, but within him was a search, for what, he still did not know.
One evening, he saw an old man on the road. He stopped to ask directions and just to chat. After he was done, the old man offered him to spend the night with him and be off on his way in the morning, he agreed. After dinner, in a moment of awkward silence, the old man asked him, “where are you off to?’ to which he had no reply, “ what are you searching for?” the same response followed.
He looked intently at him and said, “What you are looking for, can never be found, it needs to find you, for it lives within you.”
He never understood what the old man meant, but his anxiousness had picked up a new fervor, “They will never understand, nor do I want to explain.” He thought to himself, and carried on.
I have heard whispers of conspiracy and I have heard judgments of determination, from devious shadows shifting behind me to arrogant abusers on me, I have heard and seen them all. I can tell you what resolve means by the strength with which my arms have been grabbed, and I can tell you what desperation can do when those silent tears slip onto me. I have taken in me the anger and all the rage that drives one to insanity, as I have also seen it evolve to a deep wisdom and tranquility.
For I have seen ages pass me by; those that have sat on me to decide the fates of men have never realized how fragile their own destinies are. For I am an addiction whose infatuation far surpasses anything a mere mortal can comprehend. Many came, many went, and some were taken away while some I devoured.
Pieces of Heaven….for Some
These three different places were constructed for exclusive people with ultimate love and passion. These spaces were meant to be such that those occupying them should be able to lose themselves within these structures. Be it to search for the light therein or to repel the darkness within. For spirituality, love, lust, distraction, solace or peace, for whatever purpose these buildings were erected, only their aged walls knew how well they served.
With the changing time, their functions and the way they are seen by their frequenters has changed but what secrets they hold, no one knows.
In all pomp and glory he sat in his huge palace, the maharaja, for he was the bravest of the brave, the best of the best, for no one was like him nor could be like him… or so he would like to believe. The maharaja once also wrote his autobiography in which he talked about himself as one of the greatest human beings of all time. His bragging knew no bounds; as he liked to believe he had done and achieved everything, from killing dozens of tigers to conquering empires. His book was filled with the most fantastical accounts of his bravery even though in reality he would scream and cry for help if he saw a lizard in his washrooms.
He would spend his free time, talking to himself, writing poems in his honor while he wore nothing except a red general’s cloak and walked around in his private chambers.
The clock would chime its way through the day, trudging and laboring since 7 in the morning. That is the way he would start everyday, always on time. Wrestling with time his agonizing day would suddenly turn magical every evening as the lights would be switched on, the seats of the giant ring auditorium would fill up and the show would begin.
The circus was his life, he grew up there and he lived there. It was all he knew; his part between every act would be to juggle plates, as the performers would hurry off the stage to prepare for the next act. He was the fill up guy, but those few minutes were what he lived for.
Fast-forward many years; he is an old man now sitting at a friend’s dinner table. The circus has been long gone, it is a life forgotten. Dinner is over and he is helping his friend clear up the plates when he notices how familiar the china looks. Lost in thoughts of the plates, his friend leaves him in the empty room to answer the doorbell that just rang.
Here he stood, alone in between an interval. He meticulously picks up the plates and thoughtlessly, almost mechanically gives his performance to the empty room under the solitary bulb above him like the stage lights. And as he finishes, like the old days, he bows. To his eyes, he sees flashing cameras, ecstatic children and the deafening applause. A smile of accomplishment creeps up his wrinkled face as he sits down to enjoy the glory that surrounds him in that empty room.
The Glistening Brooch
In the 3rd house of Badler lane, the one with the white frill curtains, the first floor housed a dainty lady who gave birth to me. She then drove 5 miles to a corner shop that smelled of soot, she left me there, all alone. They cut me up, then burnt me with boiling metal and then mercilessly hammered me. Just when I thought they were done, they poked me with stones.
I thought they couldn’t be more ruthless when they shut me in a box and sold me off.
Who bought me, where they took me, who I was given to, what I have heard in my life and all that I have seen; is all a secret.
He kept staring at his reflection in the little patch of mirror visible amongst the mess. The more intently he observed himself, the more he could see to question. He could see the silver-grey spots of the ageing mirror splattered across his visage. The dim evening light that filtered through the murky glass of the closed windowpane enigmatically seemed to extenuate the shadows in the room. The immensity of his clutter was so profusely astounding that he felt lost in it, for days he could sit there to wonder off.
The turquoise dream-catcher, the safari hats, the red stockings, the sewing thimbles, the gypsy chimes, the cameras, the pocket watches, the saffron, the prayer mats, the ballerina shoes, the smoke pipes, the books, the hair brushes, the tobacco boxes, the chess board, the lingerie, the spice jars, the jewelry, the hair clips, the toothbrushes, the wallets, the keys, the lunch boxes, the boxing gloves, the medicines and so on, you name it, and he had it.
From the Celtic woven carpet at his feet to the family photographs filling every inch of his walls, everything in that house, was someone else’s’.
He kept staring at the pictures, wondering which one of these would resemble his own; and in each and everyone, he saw familiarity; as did every object in that dwelling. Every object had a story, its own history, and its own world that somehow gave him entry as soon as he silently claimed it. It was something that he had to do when he saw objects that were not his. From saltshakers to worn out spectacles, he just had to steal them irrespective of his need. They had to become a part of him for him to live, for him to loose himself in their worlds to create his own.
The Leftover Excerpts from the Red Wall
A solemn wall stood in the center of the garden in the family estate. Red as blood, peeling away as the weather bore down on it through the years. Erected specifically for the yearly family photograph, it had been ages since it had last seen attention.
The chairs sitting in front of it usually would have discussions of how it used to be. The wall would always just be listening, giving an occasional sigh thinking quietly of its glory days.