Of Motions and Emotions…

His stomach rumbled the third time in what could not have been more than ten minutes, convincing him that he’d finally have to get up and make his way to the toilet. The digital clock mounted on the wall displayed some numbers, but at his age and in his predicament, the numbers no longer made much sense. There was a time when the numbers had meant everything, and when he used to, at the command of his father, multiply the numbers and present the result by dividing it with some other number before the person using the calculator could. It was his achievement – a son’s feat that managed to bring a grin to his father’s face. But now, he was alone, having outlived everyone else in the family save for his daughter who was married and had been living abroad for the last two months, or three months, or any number of months. And with her departure, he realised that the numbers – that he had doted on and that had earned him all he had in life, ceased to matter anymore.

He rose from the bed and stood by its side for some time. Like an artist having some solitary time before they mount atop the stage and entertain all those who have come bearing expectations. ‘Expectations’. In the dark recesses of his heart, that event had been etched forever. He had told her that he could not, just then, get into a relationship because of the expectations of everyone who would be involved from both the sides. He was not ready. There were arguments, pleadings, and a lot of crying. He knew he had wronged. Committed a sin that would never go unpunished. And this was not the first time these memories came to him, haunting in the dark. He had spent days locked up, inside a room, as an act of penitence. There had been days when he had lost track of the reality, confused between what was real and what was the dream. But before these memories could have debilitated his old heart any further the rumbling returned, and then he remembered that he didn’t know the time yet. Time, he often thinks lately, gains an insurmountable importance to those who have nothing to do.

And so, out of his habit now, he pulled the curtains apart and threw his glance towards Mr Mehta’s house. Mr Mehta had died around three years back but he – and everyone around him – still referred the house as Mr Mehta’s house. He had known Mr Mehta for some 20 years, perhaps even 30, but their bond was strengthened when he had lost his wife and had no one to turn to. It was some eight years back, or it might as well have been nine. Mr Mehta had then hugged him for what had seemed an infinity, and that hug had contained everything a troubled man needs – love, assurance, and hope. He had found a brother in Mr Mehta. And now when he looks at the house and thinks about his love for the man who was once everything for him and was now nowhere to be seen, he is convinced that the silent bonds between two men are further strengthened by a death. Death for him was now more like a semicolon against the believed notion of it being a full stop. In hindsight all deaths are like semicolons; there is always a more pronounced part of the life of the one left behind after their loved one’s departure.

He picked his glasses up, cleaned them with his undershirt, and tried to fix his gaze, but the lights in the kitchen of Mr Mehta’s house were still out which meant that it was not 5 yet. Ahh, the stupid stomach depriving him of his sleep so early, it has to be the ‘Kabuli Chana’ from the yesternight’s dinner. And he rushed into the toilet unable to bear any further.

And minutes later, relieved, he came out of the toilet and threw another perfunctory glance towards that house and the lights in the kitchen told him that it was time. And so he gargled with saline water, washed his face, and headed towards Mr Mehta’s house. He rung the bell and a pretty face – that seemed too young to belong to the age it actually represented despite the evident wrinkles on the surface – greeted him with a smile. She was a woman who had aged more because of the grave loss in her life than the work. She was now always dressed in Salwar suits of light colours.

She greeted him with a smile and he entered the house – bowing down before her, she always asks him why he does that but he never answers – and her smile transformed into a grin. He made his way towards the study of Mr Mehta and picked the transistor up. She went upstairs to bring the book that she had been reading. The bookmark in between the pages bore her husband’s initials ‘D.M’. Mr Mehta had scribbled the initials one night when she was busy talking to a friend over the phone and the book was lying by her aside. She often looked at the bookmark and thought about how we continue to live after we die, sometimes on pages, and at others in the bookmarks that separate any two pages – delineating what has been read and what was more to be explored. And now here were her husband’s initials telling her where she should resume her reading from, and this was coming from a man who had never commanded her for anything while he was alive.

And then they proceeded to the foyer for the tea – now a custom for them. An arrangement in their otherwise dishevelled lives. A company that they both needed but neither had ever expressed the vitality of to each other.
He pressed the button and the transistor came to life. It played ‘Kahiin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaaye’ by Mukesh, the volume already adjusted to a low-level. He asked her to sit by it while he brewed the tea for both of them. She knew why he did so. This was the song that the three of them, when Mr Mehta was still around them, used to listen together, and the now deceased had decreed it to be as his favourite. She smiled and lipped the song along, thinking about nothing in particular, apart from a stray thought or two she seldom thought about her husband now, or about anything at all. She just kept reading most of the time.

And then he returned with the tea and the biscuits. Picking the newspaper up, he read something in it and tried to lure her into a debate, to which she enthusiastically reciprocated.

A few minutes later. Silence ensued, and he kept reading the newspaper, and she kept reading the book. He threw a glance at her book. She had been reading the same book for ten days or has it been fifteen days, but the numbers no longer seemed to matter to him. So they both continued to read. And they talked intermittently between the reading, perhaps to kill the silence but more to console the other of their company. And neither got up for a long time.


Image Courtesy: Google

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37 thoughts on “Of Motions and Emotions…

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    1. I am elated that you liked it Oishi. If only I hadn’t gotten myself involved in the next story already, and also the book I am reading.

      Perhaps there’ll be a part that continues the story, some fine day.
      Thanks again!

      Like

  1. I’ve read a couple of your articles by now, and I feel there is usually a sentimental, reminiscent atmosphere in your articles, kind of like mist.
    According to what I’ve read, I find you’re intersted in the topics like time, love, memory…… Is it right?
    You dig into human’s inner world and really do a great job. Are you a big fan of stream of consciousness?
    And you have a large vocabulary! My hat’s off to you! Your articles are beautifully written. I really enjoy them! Keep writing!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Vera. Thank you for being so kind. Your words mean a lot.

      Yes, I am interested in all the topics you’ve mentioned in your remark. I believe that if you take love out of someone’s life, you leave them with memories and all the time in the world, don’t you think so? Isn’t this how Love, Life, Memories and the mighty Time all related to each other.

      And though I haven’t read many books by the authors who excelled in the ‘stream of consciousness’ (narrative style), I happen to be a huge fan of Fyodor Dostoyevsky and consider him to be an epitome of the authors who managed to get into their characters’ skins and then presented before us what would otherwise have been an impossibility. (Have you read any of his works; if not, then you please do).

      I do toggle between the present and the past but that is mainly because I believe that most of the lives — contrary to what the idealists have to say — are lived that way. One moment in the present only to thrown back into the past the other.

      Thanks again, for inviting me to this healthy conversation. It is indeed one of the many pleasures of blogging – getting to interact with a wide audience people from all across the globe, helping each other to get better at both – the way that they live their lives and the way they write.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more! I’m also a big fan of these topics.
    Dostoyevsky’s works are great! But I only read his novel The brothers karamazov. Though it’s difficult to read, I really love it! The psychological description is fantastic and impressive. The humanity that Dostoyevsky reveals through his works is complicated and profound. His novels are really thought-provoking.
    And I agree with your opinion on lives, too! People are indeed not always living in the moment. Actually, we’re living at present with all we experienced in the past. I like the way you toggle between the present and the past. Very natural, smooth and exquisite. The atmosphere you create is enchanting!

    I love communicating with you and people around the world! More power to you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They say it is arguably the best book ever written – ‘The Brothers Karamazov’. The expectations that I have from it and the kind of time I would have to devote to this book has never let me pick it up. It is still in my ‘To Be Read’ books’ list. Next time you pick up any Russian novel go for the translations by ‘Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky’ – the essence is so beautifully sustained in the duo’s translations.

      Yes, Dostoyevsky’s work tends to whirl the reader’s mind, but it soon begins to grow on the reader. Isn’t this just like life when one enters their adolescence – nothing makes sense at first and one ends up being confused between everything around them and gradually everything starts making sense. All great books, I am convinced, are alike in this sense, they grow on people like their own lives.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I haven’t heard of this version of the novel. I searched for it on the Internet and people think highly of the transilation. Thank you for your recommendation!
        I agree with you! China is famous for its ancient poetry. We have to memorize some classic poems since We go to school. At that time we’re so young that we can’t understand them. We memorize them just in order to pass the exams. And yes, as you say, gradually We grow up and begin to appreaciate the ancient poems’ beauty and get the feelings and thoughts what the authors tried to convey. And We start to experience them in our own lives. We interpret them with our unique experiences. What We read grow on us. Literature, in my book, isn’t merely a tool used to record and reveal what life and the world are, but something that shapes our life profoundly.

        Like

      2. Yes, the duo are the best translators from the Russian language into English. Especially the works of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy (besides others).
        What you said about the Literature is true too. It is not just a tool to record the life, it bears a life of its own.
        I’d really appreciate if you could suggest a few books by Chinese authors primarily revolving around lives of the Chinese people and then venturing into Philosophy (of course it goes without saying that the book must be in English language). I’ve read Japanese and Korean author. I long to read some Chinese author.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m glad that you’re interested in Chinese literature and books about China.
        I’ll recommend Lin Yutang’s books to you. Lin Yutang is a great writer who excels both in Chinese and English. I think He is a cultural bridge between China and the West. His book entitled The Importance of Living introduces many aspects of Chinese traditional culture! You can also check out his novel named Moment in Peking!

        Another Chinese author I’d like to recommend to you is Lao She. His novel is great! I hear that the translation of The Yellow storm is modified a lot to adapt to westners’ reading habit. If you can find his books, check it out!

        And I highly recommend To Live by Yu Hua! Give it a shot! Very touching!

        By the way, I’d like to recommend a book about China by Peter Hessler. He has written several books about China. I’ve read his River Town. It’s well written!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I am thinking ‘Can any adaptation modified to suit the habits of certain demography or geography manage to retain its essence?’

        I’ll google all the names you just mentioned and try to read most of them. You have no idea of how happy I am to have stumbled across you on WordPress. Thank you Vera, for all the suggestions. I have made a note of them.

        Time to head to the biggest bookstore in the city.

        Like

      5. I think there can be. But I haven’t compared any original versions with adaptations. So I know little about it.
        It’s embarrassing that I haven’t read many books by Chinese authors. The books I recommend are mostly about old China, not morden China. China has changed a lot these years. But it’s a good chance to know the history and traditional culture of China through these books.
        I’m glad to meet you, too! I hope you enjoy these books!
        Way to go!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. An engaging piece which brings the characters to life and shows rather than tells which I appreciate. ‘And then they proceeded to the foyer for the tea – now a custom for them. An arrangement in their otherwise dishevelled lives. A company that they both needed but neither had ever expressed the vitality of to each other.’ I know these people or people like them in real life. Thank you for sharing your craft.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much Liola. I was having a rough day at work, and your remark brought a grin on my face. I am so very happy that you visited the page and read the story. Hope to listen more from you.
      Have a good day!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This was a great piece of writing. You covered some great aspects of emotion, and moral application. It is evident in the experiences that surfaced from your writing, that you have discovered a means to channel the weight that rest upon your mind. Very good.

    Like

  5. Waw! What writing! Har jumlah mein nafs bhara. Every sentence fills my soul. I too write short stories and poetry in Urdu, English, and Spanish. I enjoyed reading this piece so much and can’t wait to read others. Love it! Malang ho gaya is lafzon se.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you Aman, for your time and so many kind words. Urdu is such an exquisite language. To hear praises in it is both – a matter of honour and and a source of motivation to make my words right in the next write up.

    Thank you for reading through the lines. Will visit your write-ups soon enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, online I only write sports articles, so if you’re into football or cricket, you might find some of my articles interesting.

    Yes, Urdu is such a language. Its history is the history of any language but Urdu and its words give the speaker a feeling of empowerment.

    Like

  8. Wow! So many feels. This post reminded how death can be so haunting if it isn’t us who’s dying. The lines, “how we continue to live after we die, sometimes on pages, and at others in the bookmarks that separate any two pages” – are going to stay with me for a long long time.

    Like

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