Meera Goes to Hogwarts: Chapter Two

Can’t recall the first chapter? Click here.

Meera was skeptic as ever. It was tearing her apart. She didn’t want to go, but Zuck’s words ringed in her ears. Your country’s magic council wants you to study magic at Hogwarts. She didn’t know why she needed to believe someone who had appeared out of thin air. But for some reason she felt it would be equal to betraying if she denied something she was chosen to do. To make things worse, Mayna kept shut. Even after many pleadings, she would not tell Meera more than what Zuck had told her.

It was the 14th day, the day of the no moon. Zuck could appear anytime and Meera would have to make a decision that would challenge everything she ever knew. She was nervous and scared.

Was she ever coming back if she left? Would she ever see her city and the familiar temples again? What if Zuck was a fraud? What if he had given Mayna some crazy medicine to get her to play along? What if he was blackmailing her?

Despite all these questions her suitcase was neatly packed and placed in the corner of her room. Meera knew that Mayna had been keeping a close watch on her as her older sister kept passing by her room every hour since dinner.

It was close to 10 o’ clock at night and there was no sign of Zuck. Meera had begun to think that perhaps it was all a joke after all as she laid over her bed. He wasn’t going to come. And she could place all her clothes back into her closet and sleep.

It was quarter past 11 and Meera had almost fallen asleep when a noise woke her up. She could see a gigantic face looking at her from above. In a flash she screamed and moved towards the edge of the bed. The window was wide open.

‘Got stuck in traffic!’ Zuck said floating in the air seated on his broom as he placed a big bag on the ground. ‘Had to visit Diagon Alley to get all your things for school Meera. Here’s your robe and your books.’

Meera was still by the edge of her bed. Zuck had come after all and now her heart was going to explode.

‘I see your suitcase is packed. So do you want to leave then?’ he asked. ‘But I suggest you change into your robes before heading out.’

Meera knew Mayna was across the door as it flung open.

‘Greetings Zuck!’ said Mayna.

‘Ah greetings to you too Mayna,’ he replied.

Meera could not digest the familiarity in their voices as they greeted each other. But that was less than important at the moment. Zuck looked at her waiting for an answer.

‘I will come,’ she said. Mayna smiled as if she had always known the outcome. Meera changed her clothes which was clearly big for her. Zuck looked sorry for the mismatch. But there was no time.

‘Mount your broom,’ Zuck said, ‘Locomotor!’ he yelled as he waved his wand and her suitcase and the bag he had bought started flying in the air. ‘You’ve never flown that long, but there’s no other way as of now to go to Hogwarts from here. So hold on tight.’

Meera mounted her broom and bid her farewell to her sister and they slowly started flying through the window. Mayna peeked out and yelled, ‘Take care of her Zuck!’ Zuck nodded as they disappeared.

Continue reading “Meera Goes to Hogwarts: Chapter Two”

The Art of Hiding Behind Words

When we think of hiding, camouflage and going underground would be the ideal option. You wouldn’t normally think about writing. Nah! we write to express, to communicate, to disseminate ideas. Could writing be a way of concealment then? Very unlikely, and yet very possible.

The thought struck me when I came to know about a film related to Charles Dickens. Dickens is one of the most widely read authors in the world, he is also considered to be the quintessential gentleman from 19th century England. The man who when was asked to write about the pomp and glory of the royal family denied to do so, because he wrote of the pains and joys of the everyday people. That was Dickens to me, whose stories I have read and rejoiced since a long time. But this particular film was a revelation, because it shattered his image as a family guy, uncovering his secret mistress that he had for a time period of 13 years till his death.

150 years ago, Dickens had a strong brand image, which would have gone down the drains had his secret been revealed. Thus, he tried his best to conceal his relationship, shocking many people. But I am not here to debate his life.

The faint possibility that Dickens might have written much of his later works to conceal his pain, agony and his secret affair with his mistress interests me the most; the idea that through writing, Dickens did not necessarily express but rather hid behind his craft.

Think of a line you absolutely love, from a book, a movie, a conversation. Anything.

I’ll share a snippet of a piece I wrote.

The Wordcastle Instagram 4

Now, I might have 1769 reasons behind writing this line. And it is not necessary that as the listener or reader, you will be able to interpret it exactly the same way. Unless I explicitly state the objective, you will never know it, but what you will know indeed is your objective, your understanding. It surprises me greatly, how is this expressing myself then?

What I am doing but hiding behind an array of carefully chosen words? Of course I am writing. But it is you who is expressing, to yourself. I am merely hiding, beneath these networks of words. Some might call it a barrier, but it is a beautiful barrier I must say, one that helps us hide.

This is of course a very rudimentary version of anything concrete. All I do want to say is perhaps there is a different side of writing, one that does not involving expressing but hiding in metaphors and characters.

Perhaps that is what Charles Dickens did. His mistress is believed to have had a profound effect on his greatest work, Great Expectations. The story follows the life of Pip and his beloved Estella, but they never meet, not explicitly. Dickens separated from his wife, but could never bring his love for his mistress into light because of his public image. He could have instead hid his desires and confusions inside his characters and inside a story. But does this mean all works of writing have something hiding behind them? Not necessarily. But the idea that people write to express, might just be a one-sided approach to the very complex nature of us, humans.

You don’t necessarily have to express as you write, you could hide, camouflage and divert your audience in a world so very different from where you are. It makes writing sound like a code breaking task in Sherlock or James Bond. It might be and it might not. But it sure makes it interesting to explore.

The Golden Ladder

‘Who will play first?’ the old lady asked.

‘The one who comes up with the highest number on the dice,’ the girl said.

The old lady nodded in agreement. ‘Bring the board,’ she said.

The little girl moved towards the corner of the room, dimly lit with spider webs at the edges. The rack was dusty, like no one had visited the place in ages.

‘Ha….shooo,’ the little girl sneezed and rubbed her eyes.

The metal board was heavy and had numbers from one to hundred carved over the surface with tiny little squares. The little girl hadn’t seen it before and wondered how the game is played. She knew a little about the dice which was used in the game.

She walked back to the place where the old lady was seated. The place was bright with the rays of the newly awaken sun entering through the windows.

‘You roll the dice first, Ma,’ the little girl said, grabbing the glass dice from the pocket and handing it to the lady.

‘Do you know the rules of the game, Arki?’ the old lady asked.

‘I know about the dice,’ she said.

The old lady wiped the board and it shone like a fine piece of metal. The little girl’s eyes widened by the sight.

‘Is it true, is it true?’ she asked anxiously.

‘Yes it is,’ the old lady replied. ‘The game is run by magic,’ she added.

Continue reading “The Golden Ladder”

Two Stories

As a school going kid I was very bashful and quiet. My early days of schooling was spent in a very small school. I became even more shy when I transferred to a bigger school. I would find it so big that I would get lost on my way to class from the rest room. If I sauntered into the wrong corridor I’d have to say that I was a new student and I did not remember where I was going.

I would often leave the main ground of the school 10 minutes earlier after the lunch break in case I got lost and had trouble getting back. After 4 years, each minute detail would be imprinted in my mind but before those years were over, a million things would pass. 

Memory is a tricky thing, they say. We can distort and recreate memory of events that never happened. It’s not very reliable. Yet, a wave of memory hit me after almost a decade of leaving my school which I’d like to remember. The memory cue might have been a chat with two other friends who went to the same school, but none of us knew the other existed back then.

Back to the shy kid that I was.  I don’t know how I kept myself from bursting into tears the first few weeks of new school. I must have though, silently wanted to run away. Being the new kid is interesting in some way. All eyes on you. Everyone else is new too, so my eyes must have fallen into a huge state of confusion. The second thing we often asked each other after our names were our grades which is rather funny now that I think about it.

I was a major laggard in extra curricular activities. I had no clue what I could do apart from memorizing passages from books and finishing all my homework before I got home so that I could play Mario or stare at the TV with animax playing on it. I wasn’t good at art, music was okay, sports was a nightmare, and forget about public speaking. 

Whenever teachers came in to get in names for the inter school or inter house competition I raised my hand, in an alternate universe billions of light years away. I wanted to raise my hand in the universe I lived, but I lacked the courage to do so. It was all inside my head.

Fast forward to a few years later, I don’t remember when or how, one day a news about a story writing competition arrived. The visions are a little blurred, was it a teacher who suggested my name or did I finally muster the courage to raise my hand, I don’t recall. But I found myself as one of the participants from my school.

For a moment it felt cool. Back then it was a big deal. Imagine what would happen if I won, I kept telling myself. My name would be called at the morning assembly and I would walk out of the hustling mass of students wearing maroon and white to get my certificate. What a splendid sight it would be!

I think I heard one of the teachers telling me to write a story sample. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I had no idea what the organizers were looking for, but I wrote and wrote some more in royal blue ink. I continue to write in royal blue ink even today, and I still can’t seem to figure out who wants what.

I must say the story back then was a carbon copy of the Barbie movies I had been accustomed to. I had grown to admire the stories in the series. I found it magical. I thought I was creating magic.

For some unknown reason I always felt nervous walking into the staff room of teachers. But on this occasion I had to find the teacher who had asked me to write the story. I climbed many flights of stairs to reach the top floor and in my squeaky little voice I said, “May I come in Sir.”

To my dismay, the teacher I was looking for was not there. There was somebody else though. Normally, my mouth would have run dry and the words would have died out half way through my lungs, but I had to tell who I was looking for.

I had already written two stories, I told the teacher there. I was a participant for the story writing competition. Not much was said. The teacher asked me my name and I slowly exited the room. I walked down the stairs, feeling a little miserable with each step.

I never heard from the teacher I was intending to speak that day and I never enquired about it ever again. May be I should have gone back the next day, or the next week. In my over excitement I had written two stories that did not make much sense. There was no prize. There were only Two Stories. 

While I sure felt miserable that time, I do not remember feeling really sad about not being able to participate. I had two stories, and my friends loved it. We would go on to talk about it for many years. They would say I would write a story, I would write it. My best friend even told me that she’d publish it if I didn’t. Guess as children we love to believe in big things!

Perhaps I’ll find the two stories hiding in my bookshelf someday or they could be completely lost now, thrown away or burnt down. But they were the reason I managed to have a brief conversation without falling apart of nervousness. They were the reason I wrote in excitement, they were the reason I thought I could create magic. My friends believed in me. And that was cool. That is cool.

And I thank everyone who read the carbon copy of the Barbie stories I wrote to the ones who read writings I publish on my little blog every now and then; my little cousins who tell me I should become a writer when I grow up.

Thank you for joining me in this journey. And a new destination awaits!

Alfa

 

And I love

And I love
All of these and more.

These feet
That do not touch the ground
When seated over a chair,

This voice
Too high pitched that pierces
My own ears,

That laugh
Loud and noisy,
Unfit for normal conversations.

But I love
All of these and more.

These lips
At times that speak words
That were better not spoken,

Those hands
Breaking things into pieces
That cannot be rejoined without a scar,

This blurry eyes
That stare into the skies
Hoping to count all of the stars someday.

Yet I love
All of these and more.

This heart
Completely flawed
That still keeps on beating.

And I love
All of these and more,
All of these and more.