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Monday, July 19, 2010


I sat in front of the glowing LCD display, staring at its blankness as it winked slyly at me. My fingers tapped out patterns of nothingness on the keys, repeating a cycle of type-select-delete. It was depressing. I wanted to write, but the words wouldn’t obey me. They danced a macabre dance in my head, whirling faster and faster like dervishes caught in the clutches of mad ecstasy, till my head threatened to explode.

What good is a writer who can’t write? Movies seem to idolize the concept of an unkempt character with long locks, sitting by the window and throwing crumpled up pieces of blank paper on the ground, with metronomic regularity – till a lovely muse arrives, bringing a wave of inspiration in her wake. Bah! Unfortunately, a landlord whose rent has not been paid doesn’t understand ‘writers’ block’. Neither does the grocer, the milkman, or the electricity company.

There were times when I had those flashes of inspiration that led to a ‘great’ piece being written, fetching me a few hundred bucks from the local newspapers. And then there were the wannabes  – rich, bratty kids who wanted some ‘original’ poems or beautiful verses for their sucker girlfriends. Fine with me, as long as my bills got paid!

But, it was a rough ride, nevertheless. I even tried the Samuel Taylor Coleridge way of working myself into a drunken stupor, hoping to be visited by my Muse. But, a disastrous hangover later, I gave up.

And so, apart from the occasional paragraph, which would be abandoned like an illegitimate child shortly after birth, I never made much headway.

And then, it began. The people in my head started talking to me. Their voices were faint wisps of sound somewhat like an autumn wind rustling through the trees. The sound was alien, but strangely familiar at the same time – as if they had been talking inside my head for years.

I plugged in my iPod, turning the dial to full volume in an attempt to drown out those feeble, other-worldly whispers. Why? Why did they want to talk to me? Why didn’t they stay in their netherworld, why did they have to deny the decree of fate, and seek out my world?

Everytime, when one of those creatures spoke, my stomach would knot itself into a cold ball of fear and my insides would turn to ice. I tried to shut them out, but the fearful clamour of light whispers was deafening. Slowly, but inexorably they grew stronger. I forgot where my world ended and theirs began. Fascinated, I listened to the old man who had been a serial killer, the chit of a girl who had led a life of wretched debauchery, the middle-aged man who had sacrificed his own happiness for that of his family, and the young man who spent insomniac nights, listening to the travails of tortured souls. Which one of these was I? I no longer knew.

I began to feverishly write the tales that the ghosts in my mind spun out. Pages upon pages filled up with stories of lust, love, hatred and revenge. I loved some of my narrators for their incredible tales of passion. Others, I hated for the mundane, everyday stories that they had to tell.

By now, there was an incessant chatter of voices in my head, as more and more unfamiliar ghosts joined in. I took to writing with a vengeance. Reams upon reams of paper passed through my hands, as I wrote like a man possessed. (But then, I was possessed, wasn’t I?)

The voices were strongest at night, craving my attention. But, even during the day, they kept up a plaintive hiss, somewhat like a lonesome tide washing up on a gray, dank shore.  

Thin wraiths of children abandoned at birth, pale ghosts with hearts of ice, angelic souls weeping for their loved ones, demonic beings consumed with vengeance – they were all there.

One day, the doorbell rang – a whining screechy sound like that of a banshee in distress. It was her. Another ghost. From the distant past. Not like the ones in my head. A ghost that I had once loved. A ghost that had once loved me. And now, there were only the fragments of broken dreams that held us together.

I slapped her. Hard. She recoiled, more from the shock than the pain. Then, rage took over her and she clawed at my face. That’s when the knife flashed. Again and again. Its blue steel was painted red, and then there was silence. And peace.

A figure sitting in a padded cell with no windows, and a tiny door – looking around with suspicion, fearing an unseen enemy. She hears my voice in her head and cowers, trying to shut it out, as I throw back my head and laugh…


Gurdit said...

Nice one. :)

I like the descent into insanity.

Shahid Mukadam a.k.a Shady West Side said...

When you write after a long time, it becomes crazy and it is usually followed by a surge....very well described and written!!!

Corinne Rodrigues said...

Welcome back...thought of you only this morning. And to be honest this one went way above my head!

Sumit said...

@Gurdit... I like it too. :D

@Shahid... thanks!

@Corinne... thank you so much. I'd also been thinking of corresponding with you. Mumbai is an awesome city, you know!!! :D

MangoManBunty said...

It made me cringe!

And it doesn't happen very often!

Kaddu said...

The use of "I" sure does create a better effect in the entire write-up, but, for some reason, I couldn't relate to the idea of anyone cowering with fear because of your presence! He he! Surely u aren't that scary looking!

Just kidding! Wish there was a "Like" button here like FB. Very well narrated. Must be one of "those flashes of inspiration" that lead to "a ‘great’ piece being written"! :p