Long time readers here know that I'm hooked to the A-Z, and the Write...Edit...Publish... blogfests. And I'm hooked to MOOCs, I'm a compulsive MOOC-taker, they have become a part of my summer since I did the first one in 2016. But this year was different, I knew I'd be away for a large chunk of time bang in the middle of it, moving around every 4-5-6 days without much chance of you know, writing things down...So of course I signed up, for this one here!
Predictably, I am now up to my eyes trying to catch up. I am a retreating speck in the rear view mirrors of my coursemates, if I may borrow my own phrase from last week :) Therefore, no poetry here today. Just an excerpt from the story I'm developing over there, and a hint of what is to be my entry come Wednesday for the writing challenge at Write...Edit...Publish..., teaming up with the Insecure Writer's Support Group for an exciting partnership.
heart never sleeps, there is no rest. And the heart of the city certainly never
sleeps, even in the smallest hours of the night. You have spent your whole life
here but have only now fully realised it.
Because you can’t sleep a wink tonight, can you? how can you sleep when
years of a monumental struggle are finally drawing to a close? What if you
close your eyes and then when they open again, the entire prospect has vanished
like the dream it feels it is? You can’t take that risk. So you listen for the
heartbeat of the city, imagine another heartbeat on a monitor, steady, evenly
fluorescent green lines sweeping across the screen while you listen to the
sounds here and now – the noises of the ever-awake, insomniac inner streets.
has its own sound here, the day and the night. Nothing is perfectly silent.
Especially not the night. Even the streetlights are not silent, they hum with a
quiet hum as they burn, each in its own whirlpool of flying insects. You aren’t
sure if that noise is the electricity changing to light, or if it is the bugs
flying around them.
have gone along with a false notion mindlessly – silent night, no, it is not
silent. Just because the cars are parked
and shut away in garages, only the night buses run and the metro stops
throbbing through the subterranean veins of the city - that doesn’t equal
quiet. There are the cicadas. Nothing silent about them. As the vehicular noise recedes, they come into
their own, their choral songs becoming louder and more attention seeking. You
notice a night jar calling, a sparrow flaps its wings at its roost, disturbed
by something. Do sparrows dream, you wonder. Is there any way of knowing the
dreams of birds? Does a racing heart mean the same thing in birds as it does in
humans? Your heart is racing tonight, equal parts excitement and fear. You try
to breathe slowly, breathe in, hold, count, breathe out. But your heart doesn’t
pay any mind to your exercises in control, it beats independently at a rate of
its own choosing.
night watchman blows his whistle right under your window every half hour as he
completes his beat. His stout steel tipped stick rings on the asphalt and on
the pavers bordering the kerb in a steady rhythm. It recedes as he moves to the
outer edge of the block and then washes in as he completes the loop again. Somewhere
a leaky faucet’s dripping – drip, drip, drip-drip. It is too faint to be one of
yours, but you still get up to check, it is something to do, a diversion and a
relief from your relentless, intense happy-panicked state of mind. You tighten
the faucets quite unnecessarily before you come back to bed. The wood creaks as
you lie back on it.
street mongrel barks at a carful of revelers retuning from some late
celebration, their audio is unnaturally loud in the absence of traffic. The
glow of their headlights strafes the darkened walls of your room in an eerie
sweep. Someone’s grandfather clock chimes the hours – the sound wafts in weakly
through your open window. You count them up first – one to eleven, one to
twelve, it drops to one. And then it rises again - one two, one two three, one
two three four, you hear the first tram go clanging past at half past four. Someone
is chanting the Krishna-naam rather loudly on it as he goes down to the
river. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare.
pick out that chant and give in to the impulse of touching your hand to your
forehead in reverence to gods till now unknown to you, because you must take every
opportunity to appease them. Is this hypocrisy? Praying only at a crisis? Maybe
it is, but you don’t care. The second tram clangs past. There is no-one
chanting on it, you can make that out as well. You didn’t know you had this
acute a sense of hearing. You are hyper-alert to each sound, and the sound of
your own pulse in your ears is the loudest of them all.
sunlight is just tickling the window now, the curtain cracks open in a hairline
smile. The sparrows are stirring in the nest they have built in your skylight.
were gone for so many days, toing and froing from the hospital, panic-stricken
and hope-stricken and disbelief-stricken by quick turns, can it really end –
surely you were not destined to be this happy? Skylights and birds and the
general cleanliness of the household were very far from your mind, so that by
the time you returned to yourself and your balcony, and you chanced to look up,
oh heavens, the female was already sitting on the eggs and the male was
hovering around practicing helicopter parenting.
have a staunch heart but it balked at having to break that nest. So you left it there.
all this time, with the screens of the fluorescent green lines bleeping in
rooms far away, your home has been empty of you, but home to new hearts beating.
Your balcony is now fouled with bird droppings and sundry other messes. You don’t really mind, who has time for fussing
when something this big is happening in your life?
You’ll take balconies with or without birdshit now,
forever. You’ll take whatever other shit the balconies have in store for you. Just
let this one thing be true. Just let this not be a dream. Just let Mohan come
And if I may, I'd like to ask you some of the questions that I'm facing from the TAs in the forums - does the use of vernacular terms put you off? Or does it make the writing feel more authentic? Should we as writers consider the readership we are writing for, or should we just forget about them and create the art we want to create?
For those who write in a second language, as I do, should they be cautious about first language interference, or even first culture interference?
Thank you for your patience with this one.