Slices of life.

young adult old soul magic realism writing
Art by: Pascal Campion

Picture-perfect silence.

The sound of the world standing still, holding its breath. In a city like mine, a capital city populated with banks and company headquarters, the marble-faced buildings of supreme courts and parliament alike, even the suburbs are no strangers to the constant humdrum of the city. Something or the other is always happening: a huge delivery in China Town, a busy pedestrian crossing, hot milk tea being poured for patrons of hole-in-the-wall places at every time of day, a housewife’s middling day, a workman on site. There are slices of life unraveling all about, all with their own comings and goings. There’s never a boring day, even when there is. If nothing is happening to you, you can just look out your window and imagine someone else’s day.

“What kind of shoes is the cobbler mending today?”

“Did they finally get rid of that pink graffiti on the corner of Ducasse street?”

“Wonder what the cats by the school bridge are up to today.”

If you’re a little bit tired of your own life, you can just step into another. Stories aren’t hard to find, escapes are near, just a conversation away, within the reach of a cloud of thoughts.

There is life everywhere, on rooftops and bus stops, on old, cobbled roads, in craft markets and old Chinese shops, in schools and book stores, at the tailor’s and down the flower shop street. There are more stories out there than there are dropped cents on the streets.

Now though, at 6 in the morning, not even the church bells toll. The mouldy, obscenely red buses don’t hurtle by, leaving clouds of smoke behind. The city, the world, has stilled, coming to a screeching, silent halt. It is as though someone had just flicked a switch off.

Even in the suffocating closeness of suburbia, not even the murmur of a conversation rises in the air. No rustle, no bustle, no sighting of another human being outside of your own household. No old men asserting their views in the streets that once belonged to them, no motorcycles weaving obnoxiously through narrow streets. No stories, no escapes. The city has pricked its finger and fallen deep into sleep, only stirring to catch the current of news at 6 pm sharp.

In the midst of that radio silence, were you to look at the city from above — sloping as it does at the feet of mountains — you might find a head, gleaming black, poking out from a balcony, in the narrow space between two houses.

The wind runs through my hair, its currents silkily gliding through the creases of my mind. I’m out here, as “out” as I can be in these times of quarantines and nation-wide lockdowns, soaking in the light of a pale winter sun.

Take in the silence, the silence of nothingness. 

There will come an end to all this, distant and blurry as it may seem. Soon, the world will be shaken rudely from its sleep, startled again into breakneck speeds and imminent burnouts.

Enjoy the silence, and the things you can only enjoy now. 

Too soon, this moment will be gone and you will wish you had lived it more ardently and experienced it more fully.

There are slices of life in this, too. Stories, if only you knew to look within yourself, to accept this silence and dive into it. But you’re afraid of the accusations that will rise, belly up. You’re afraid you will look into that water and not see yourself. It was so easy, wasn’t it, jumping from one life to the next, switching timelines, surrendering control of your life to go explore someone else’s. You made imagination into an ivory tower and now that a curse of a spell has fallen on the city, you are stranded in your own life.

Even now, you gaze at the skies and wish you could jump into them.

But there’s no hurry.

Air your thoughts, soak in the sun, catch a break, hum that song. Have this moment, simply.

Turn to the skies, to the double-edged beauty of this passing moment, and lose yourself in the silence of all things.


Note: I hope you are all doing well in spite of everything and are able to find a moment to catch a break and breathe and be.

Watching:

A Silence of Intense Thoughts

“It was always a pause, and then the silence of intense thoughts that crossed the room, the sounds of minds opening, being filled not with words, but with the emotion in between them, brimming not with verse and lyricism, but with memories of their beauty, their rhythm that sounded like music”

pascalcampion
Art by: Pascal Campion

When I first studied literature and poetry, I was struck by the intentional silence left in between sentences and stanzas that were read out loud. The teacher was giving us a moment to contemplate, to wonder, to pin down a feeling, or capture a thought process, to appreciate it within a larger context, making us question whether any one thing was truly random or whether it all connected into another sub-layer of meaning.

It was always a pause, and then the silence of intense thoughts that crossed the room, the sounds of minds opening, being filled not with words, but with the emotion in between them, brimming not with verse and lyricism, but with memories of their beauty, their rhythm that sounded like music. And I like to think, even with the indescribable essence of a novel or poem that is not the same for any one person.

We broke down stories into parts, then parts into chapters, chapters into passages. Passages into paragraphs, paragraphs into lines, lines into a sentence. And further even, sentences into words and silences. Quietly, we filled the blanks in between the words with deeper meaning wrought from our own experiences. We wrote our lives in all the stories we read, in all the verse we learnt. To read is not passive; we use our own lives to  understand that of others’. We create silences to fill with the unknown.

And that silence, that is when I would stop being in a classroom, wearing an ill-fitting uniform, just a name among so many others. On the outskirts of fiction and reality, there would exist, for a few stretches of silence, a complex world that would perish at the first word spoken.


Note: This is Day 29 (Already!) of my little NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. Tomorrow’s the last day, so I hope you’ve been enjoying it. Meanwhile, you can check out the entry for Day 27 here 🙂

These Unromantic Addictions

“Since when did I need to have all my senses occupied, confounded all at once? Since when have I been fighting the silence of my own soul? “

forests
Source: Rainonawindopane

I wonder who I was before I had a smartphone? It might seem silly but…how did I take my meals before, if not before a phone screen? (Probably in front of the TV, my mind supplies). But why do I need a distraction from food? Food is delicious. An all-consuming kind of experience all on its own. And yet why?

Since when did I need to have all my senses occupied, confounded all at once? Since when have I been fighting the silence of my own soul? The kind that is without distraction. A silence of the eyes, the mouth, the ears, the mind. I feel as though all these voices from outside have shut the one from within, drowning it out in noise, its message lost in the static. No, truly, it has become hard to do nothing. It has become hard to just be. Scrolling down newsfeeds, giving likes, that is the new nothing.

But lately, I have been longing for a deep breath the way a smoker craves the scent and feel of nicotine in their throat. I have been yearning to do nothing. To air out my mind the way you air out a dress that has been stuffed in the back of a closet for too long. The insides of my brains have turned musty. So now, I have this wild desire to have my brain cells caressed by the breeze, to let the coolness of a zephyr tickle my thoughts, turning them crisp and fresh again. I have had enough of this prison of the senses. I do not want to be entertained. I do not wish to be distracted from myself, from the truths swirling inside of me.

I kindof just want to be, away from this unromantic little addiction.

 


Note: This is a late entry for Day 16 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. You can read the entry for Day 15 here.  This is a bit different from what I usually write, a little less whimsical and not something I expected to write for NaNoWriMo but hey, phones might not be very romantic to write about but they’re still a thing.