Writing 101: Day 7 – Finding Love

I clicked open the door to our house and stood in the hallway, taking a deep long breath.

Hmmm, this is not going to go so well. 

I heard running water from the kitchen. Mary seemed to be cleaning up. Three days in a row she had finished her dinner without waiting for me.

I had to make a quick decision – walk to the kitchen first or tiptoe to the bedroom?

But really, what was I scared of? 

The universe was not intent on giving me a choice, though.

“John, is that you?” Came Mary’s voice from the kitchen.

“Yes, hon,” I shout back, pacing through the hallway.

Suddenly Zeus was all over me. He was a new addition to our house, a cute little Golden Retriever puppy that I found lost on the street a couple of weeks back. We put up flyers to enquire if anybody was missing him, but no one had called yet.

I bent down and picked him up. ‘Hey Zeus!! How are you buddy!” He excitedly licked at my ears.

You both seem to be bonding pretty nicely.” I looked up and found Mary standing outside the kitchen, arms crossed over her chest. If I sensed coldness in her voice, it was only maximized by the steely look in her eyes.

“Hmph,” I smiled, trying to lighten the situation. “Isn’t he just adorable!”

Mary frowned, and then started to say something but stopped. You know a balloon that’s on the verge of bursting? It had been more or less the same between me and Mary ever since Zeus entered our lives.

“He’s gotta go, John,” she said finally, “You promised me, remember?”

“Yes, hon, I know that. But I thought, I mean I was hoping, with time – ”

What did you hope, John?” She cut me before I could finish. “That I would be all okay with that dog of yours and that he could live with us forever? Is that what you really thought?” Her tone grew more fierce with each word.

“Yes, I did, what’s wrong with that?”

“EVERYTHING! Don’t you see it? Just look around, will you! He makes a mess out of every damn thing! He chewed on my favorite shoes the day before, and I can’t wear them anymore! But I resisted. Today he destroyed my dissertation papers, do you have any idea how much I struggled for them?? It’s all gone!”

“I’m sorry but puppies are like that at the start, but they eventually learn. Why are you keeping your stuff at his reach then? Maybe YOU needed to be more careful!!” I was slowly losing my patience too.

“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE TURNING THIS AROUND ON ME!!” She threw up her hands in the air. “Why am I supposed to change for that stupid dog when-”

“His name is Zeus – ”

Zeus,” she mocked. “You know what? I’m done with that dog! Do you smell something? It’s his poo on the staircase. THANK YOU for not potty training him!”

“Hon,” I said softly. “Does it not matter to you that I happen to like him?”

“I could say the same.”

“But – Why are you so upset about him? A lot of families make it work, so why can’t we?”

I put Zeus down on the floor. He made a low wailing sound and curled up near my feet.

“He’s quite a handful, I agree,” I said. “And I’m sorry it’s affecting you this way. But trust me, it will get better. Dogs make the best companions! I come home and see his excited face all the love he gives me, it makes my day better! Wait- are you jealous?? Is that what it is?” I spurted out and regretted a moment too late.

But Mary simply looked down. Words were not spoken, but we both understood. Truth is, we had been drifting apart for quite sometime now. The love that we felt for each other was not the same anymore.

I need to correct this. I slowly went up to her and pulled her into my arms. She didn’t resist, in fact she looked a tad frail.

“Hon, we can make this work,” I whispered into her hair. “Zeus coming into our lives is actually a good thing, in a way. He brought out the worst in us but he can also bring out the best. Think of it as preparation, for when you are ready to have a baby.”

Mary sighed. And then tightened her arms around me. Zeus was prancing up and down the stairs.

“I think I’m ready now.”

Writing 101: Day 6 – The Ultimate Know-It-All

So today’s prompt is to write about the most interesting person I’ve met this year. And I drew up a blank. What a boring life I must be having, you’d think. But, truly, you’ve gotta have some luck to come across people who really blow you off your feet.

So, then, what else can I write about? Make a fiction piece out of this? Nooo, just too mentally tired for that right now. Even though I think it would really make for a good fiction piece. Would be good for my character building skills too.

So I’m now deciding to write about a special someone, someone I haven’t met personally but so wish I had! Why couldn’t I meet him? Well because he lived many centuries ago in a far away country. Ladies, gentlemen and everyone in between, let me present to you, the one and only – Leonardo Da Vinci! 

For me, he is the epitome of interesting. The quintessence of intrigue.

I guess if anything, I’d probably be indebted to Dan Brown for sparking an interest towards Renaissance Italy in me. Da Vinci Code practically started off a frenzy in me where I’d madly read up everything I could about the man, his life, and his works. I’d roam aimlessly on the streets of Rome and Florence in Google Street View, to get a vicarious pleasure from walking (albeit virtually) in the same cities as that great soul did. And the first time I met him while playing Assassin’s Creed. Goosebumps, literally.

As I started reading more and more about him as a person, I started to understand how dynamic he was in real life apart from being the mind-blowing painter that he is. But calling him just a painter would be doing him terrible injustice. He was the best damn engineer, craftsman, sculptor and a scientist as well of his times.

He was the ultimate jack and master of all trades.

Nothing much is known of Leo’s (see how I call him? Like he’s a friend or something!) childhood and his education. Except for the fact that he wasn’t very good at it. From the very early age, his mind was never fixed on a single thing constantly. The idiom “Curiosity killed the cat” didn’t exist during his times. And there in lies the secret to his brilliance. He was always on the lookout for new things, always searching for the bigger truths, always trying to decipher the world around him. He saw patterns in the world that no one observed. He had an eye for all the minute things in life that others were too busy to notice. He was the first to depict the flight patterns of a bird with such detail that it still blows everyone’s mind on how he was able to grasp so much with just his naked eyes.

One of the biggest things that I have learnt from him is his ability to see the world differently. Logically. Without any boundaries imposed by the society. Because only then would you be able to discover your true self. He was a free soul, and did everything his way and people sought him no matter where he went. Because in the end, if you have the talent and expertise, people will flock to you.

And do I even need to mention his incredible attention to detail? Just look the Mona Lisa. Or the Last Supper. No really! When was the last time you really looked at Mona Lisa? I’ve been reading a book called “Think Like Da Vinci” where the author asks us to spend at least ten minutes just staring at the portrait. Notice all those thin layers of paint that gives it an almost ethereal feel. Notice those smoky textures in the background that seem to evaporate into the air. Notice how lifelike her skin looks. And that smile. God, that elusive smile. And then note how it all makes you feel. I did it, and it was nothing short of breathtaking. At the outset, it seems like a very simple portrait. Just a woman smiling. Dig deeper, and you realize it’s a masterpiece. Sublime has never seen a much better example.

Leo, you have my hats-off! 

I don’t want to bore you much further, you can get a much better idea of him on Wikipedia or other sources. I’ll leave you with the principles he followed  in his life, from the book I mentioned before. Consider each one carefully –

questionare, a curious approach to life

–  dimostrazione, using experience to test knowledge

–  sensazione, refining the senses, primarily sight, to clarify experience

sfumato, embracing paradox, ambiguity, and uncertainty

arte/scienza, finding a balance between art and science, logic and imagination

corporalita, fitness, ambidexterity, and poise

connessione, an appreciation for the interconnectedness of all phenomena.

Thanks for reading!

Writing 101: Day 5 – The letter

I fumble in the shadows of the broken wall. The thick dust in the air did not help matters either. A sharp pain sears through my left leg and I realize that I am bleeding badly.

People were yelling, sirens were blaring. But there’s a constant drone in my ears that blanketed everything. The explosion seems to have almost deafened me.

I notice a smartphone on the floor; it’s screen is slightly shattered but when I unlock it, it comes to life as if nothing had happened. It opens up to an e-mail client. I suddenly remember the owner of this phone. It was that junior kid Jeremy, who sat on the table next to mine, sipping coffee.

He seemed to be in the middle of composing an email –

Hi Mom,

You must be wondering why I’m writing to you instead of just calling on the phone. I’m ashamed, mom, of everything that I didn’t do for you. I know I’m all you got, after dad died, but I never cared enough. I didn’t even visit you during Christmas.

Truth is, my grades aren’t so good and I have no hope of getting into a good college. I’m writing to tell you that I’m quitting this. But I’ll be fine, John found a marketing job for me in Delhi. I’m gonna make some money and will come home and take care of you. I’m really sor

I look around and spot the lifeless form of Jeremy.  The coffee cup is still in his hand, but his head was crushed under the weight of the wall.

My mind didn’t think twice. I finish that last word for him and hit the ‘Send’ button.

Today’s Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path.You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

Writing 101: Day 4 – A God shaped hole in the Universe

Today’s Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

Would I see a Thestral? Not really.

I thought hard about this. Loss. What have I really lost in my life? Apart from losing materialistic things that do not matter anyway- life, I guess, hasn’t been that hard on me. Touch wood. All the people who mean something to me, I still have them in my life. I might have grown apart with some momentarily, but we always found a way of getting back again.

And you ask me to write about loss. But I don’t want to delve into the what-could-have-been.

Then I think of things. And then something really strikes me hard. I did lose something.

Something I had plenty till my adolescence, but something that almost magically vanished from my life later on – faithIt’s not something I planned to do. It just sorta happened. Is there a switch that turns on and off in your brain to decide these things? I dunno. But faith, blind faith to be exact, is something I had a problem with ever since my childhood. I was always the skeptical one. The one who asked questions no body had perfect answers to. I think it’s called scientific temper, that’s what I had. So yes, this is not exactly a loss. But someone I willfully chose to let go. I let go of God.

I’m not gonna justify my position or my belief system here, you’re much better off without it. And I’m not anti-religious in any way, either. I have a lot of respect for people who believe in the divine. Religion teaches a lot of things and I’m no one to deny that. But again, I do believe that it is really possible to live without having to answer to a power.

I’ll only say the next few lines –

I live my life with the confidence and understanding that it is I who is at the steering wheel. That whatever happens or needs to happen to me rests purely on me. 

I live my life with the realization that I might not have been sent here with a purpose. That I can choose my purpose at will. That I’m nothing but a speck in this vast magnanimous universe.

I live my life with the fear that life here on Earth is all I’ve got. That I did not exist before. That I will not exist after I die. It makes me appreciate how crucial life here is. That I need to try harder to make the best use of it. I really feel for people who worry too much about what would happen after they die.

Writing 101: Day 3 – Floating on a sea called Music

Today’s Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

Music. It’s my life-blood after all.

But write about just three songs that mean something to me? Herculean task, right there! Of all the songs I have listened to till now, different songs have meant differently to me through the times. Some songs that I got emotionally attached to as a teenager, don’t give me the same feel when I listen to them now. And moreover, add the fact that I seldom pay attention to the lyrics. Yes. I’ve said it finally. I consider myself more of a purist when it comes to music so my focus has predominantly always been on the instruments and orchestration. I have been known to go nuts over a guitar strumming pattern or that mesmerizing violin bit that takes a song to all new highs. With this in mind then, I think I’m going to write about three musical scores that mean a lot to me.

1. Leaving Hogwarts – John Williams – Harry Potter

This should come as no surprise if you’ve read my yesterday’s post. This is still one of my most heavily played songs according to my Last.fm account. The reason probably has to do with the fact that this one always leaves me with a bundle of emotions. It gives me hope when I’m low, it gives me peace when I’m stressed. It simply makes me want to believe that everything is gonna be okay. If I cut back to the movies, three scenes comes to mind that have this song in the background.  1. Harry’s first night in Hogwarts, he’s sitting on the window sill smiling to himself. He finally felt like he belonged somewhere. 2. End of first year, Harry is leaving Hogwarts. He’s both happy and sad. 3. Final scene of the series, Harry, Ron and Hermione send off their kids to Hogwarts. All was well.

2. Life and Death – Michael Giacchino – LOST

If someone were to ask me what’s the best TV show ever, I’d say LOST without a blink. Because what LOST did to me, no other show even came close to. It was not just a drama or a thriller. LOST was about life. It was about people, ordinary people with extra-ordinary stories. In the process, it taught me a lot of things – of empathy, courage, pragmatism, hope and an unflinching desire for the truth. This central musical theme called ‘Life and Death’ just ties everything together. I cannot help but get emotional whenever I listen to this piece. It has minimal instruments, but that tune always has a way of pulling at my heartstrings.

3. Happy Ending – Danny Elfman – Silver Linings Playbook

If my life had a background score, it would be this. It’s not because my life has got anything to do with the movie. But the original score Danny created for this movie is simply phenomenal. It’s difficult to really explain why I feel this connected to this song but I guess you could say it precisely reflects my state of mind. It’s simple, mellow and then suddenly becomes hauntingly beautiful.

Here are the songs, in case you’re interested.

Writing 101: A Room With A View

This is the post I’ve written for Writing 101 course from WordPress Blogging University.

Today’s Prompt: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

I decide to walk into my special room, the one I’ve been carefully crafting for a very long time now. It’s a small rectangular place but with a significantly high ceiling. It’s also very dimly lit – the oculus on the roof the only inlet for light to pass in.

The room itself is austere, there’s absolutely no furniture save for a small wooden chair to one corner ( I love to sit here when I’m thinking!). A music player adorns the other side of the wall. It’s a 7.1 system with speakers arranged across the room in acoustic precision. A small bookshelf rests next to the wooden chair. It contains all the books that have ever come close to my heart, the ones I wouldn’t mind reading again and again.

That’s pretty much it. What’s so special about this room that I had to craft so carefully, you ask? What I crafted here are not things or decorations. They’re memories, they’re thoughts, they’re hopes and of course, my dreams! See I didn’t even tell you about the windows!

The room is perfect, it’s just what I need. Soothing. Stimulating. Relaxing.

The windows, though. The windows are what make this room so special. There are many windows, each tightly shut and each having an inscription on top that says what the window means to me. You see, these are the windows that I have been building all through my life. Each window opens to a different place, a different memory – some real, some imaginary.

Today I have decided to open two of these windows.

I walk to the west wall and reach out for a Window that has ‘NOSTALGIA’ written on top. As I open the window, a whiff of earthy smell hits me. The kind you get when it rains. I see the little house that I use to live in with my parents when I was a kid. It seems to have just rained. The road is filled with puddles of water and little streams have started to flow alongside. The door of the house opens and a scrawny boy walks out with an umbrella in hand. A little girl follows him too, frantically trying to get under the big black umbrella. They both just stand there for a while and stare into the courtyard. The door opens again, and this time a much bigger boy comes out with a notebook in hand.

“Paper-boats!” he yells joyously. I see the three little kids making paper boats and setting them in the streams for the next ten minutes and give a deep sigh in contentment. We have forgotten the art of savoring little things as adults, I say to myself. But at least, this memory would always stick with me. That smell too. I have smelled rain in many places after that but somehow that childhood memory of the smell is something that’s still vivid and still feels very tangible. A cool breeze hits my face. I don’t want to close this window but it’s time I moved on to the next.

This time, the window I reach out for is far to the north and reads “WISH”.

I know what lays ahead. An it never stops to bring a smile to my face. I see a big lake surrounded by trees. A mountain ascends at the edge of the lake. A huge castle perched on top. Leaving Hogwarts by John Williams starts to play from the music player. I realize that even though I’ve never set foot in this place, neither do I think I ever will, this is where I have spent most of my childhood. Hogwarts has really been the home away from home. I lost count of the times I imagined myself walking in those hallways, running to classes, navigating those moving staircases, relaxing in the common room, visiting the gamekeeper in his hut and of course, taking a stroll in the forest! If I could swoosh through reality, if God gave me one out-of-this-world boon, I’d ask him to make Hogwarts real. Because that is where I have inadvertently learnt most of my life lessons as a kid, and because Hogwarts is also where I started my literary journey. Everything that happened later, all the other worlds I have been to through the books I have read wouldn’t have happened in the first place without it.

I see candle lights emanating from the Great Hall. They’re having their year-end feast. I hope Ravenclaw wins!

I reluctantly shut the window. The room is dark once again. Music is still playing. I love this score by John Williams. I pick up a copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, sit in the wooden chair and start to read.