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

 

The Joy of Art

Put these tears into words

And you shall be invincible.

Summon your most prized valorous knight,

Summon your inner most demons,

The untold characters jumping inside your head.

Lead them through their journeys,

While you go through your own voyage.

Weave your secret dreams, and cut them,

Because that is the only way you may learn.

Art is not just about reality,

It goes beyond any realm any creature

Has ever seen,

Only those who have been there

Have known its joy.

 

30 Minutes of Traveling: Three Rupees

Whenever I do have to get on the micro bus, I try to get on one behind the driver’s seat. I’m not quite the fan of going against the motion, but this uneasiness keeps me from falling asleep, forcing me to look at the number of jammed people inside the vehicle.

The scenery looks different when you are seated inside a public transportation;  the torn seat cover with the foam popping outside from inside, people getting in on every stop (or just anywhere!) and the conductor trying to persuade them about the availability of space.

The bus stopped at Kupondole, just before the Bagmati Bridge. The seats were almost filled, but no one was standing just now. The conductor slid the door open and called on two girls by the road to get in.

Cha didi cha,’ he said. They declined. He tried one more time. They marched ahead.

There were mostly students today inside the bus, with or without their trademark uniforms. A girl of perhaps fifteen was seated in front of me. She stared out of the window conscious of my gaze. I tried to divert my eyes, but her innocence kept my thoughts concentrated over her presence. How beautiful is childhood without the touch of the pompous world. What does she worry about? What are her dreams? Will she conquer the world someday? She gets off somewhere between Jwagal and Pulchowk. And there goes my thought along with her!

A middle aged lady in pink kurta signals that she will be getting off somewhere at Dumkal while she tried to search whatever change that remained in her cream colored bag. She abruptly handed over Rs. 15 to the conductor.

Athara ho didi,’ he said sharply.

The debate for the missing three rupee began. The lady claimed to have always traveled this particular destination on fifteen while the conductor boy was adamant that the price had been hiked. She complained that three is rather an awkward change to carry.

The boy exclaimed that public transportation users were selfish. Here beings classism and antagonism.

If the fare had been Rs. 16 instead of Rs. 18, no one would hand in the extra Rs. 1 that was needed (10+5+1!), he says.

The conversation was heated up by now. Their voices filled the bus, capturing the attention of all inside. She said with mistrust that working class people were cheats. She said this not in words, but merely through her voice. May be they represented the people in and out, and may be it was just a normal conversation of the passing day. She finally got down.

Luckily I got my student ID, but well for how long? Let’s worry about that another day, OK?


This May let me take you through the streets of Kathmandu, and my thoughts that travel along with them. Don’t forget to let me know what you think about these stories. If you have a story, don’t forget to share! 

30 Minutes of Traveling

Alfa

Conversations: Flash Fiction

“You’re being pathetic,” exclaimed Yali.

“No, I’m not,” Bela cried back. “Or, may be I am.”

Yali slammed the laptop close that lay in front of Bela.

“It’s stupid to worry over a character, let alone a fictional one,” she said.

“Since I’ve heard that they don’t have the next book of the series, I’ve become restless,” Bela defended.

Yali arranged her desk. Bela drew her phone and started searching news updates for the novel she had been reading for the past two weeks. She stopped abruptly after entering the Google homepage.

“Do you think I’m being pathetic?” Bela questioned with a look of regret in her eyes.

“Perhaps, not.”

“See I told you I’m not being pathetic, right from the start.” “But sometimes I worry if I’ve taken the fiction world too seriously.”

“They say art is for our kind to enjoy,” Yali said, more warmly this time to console her little sister.

Bela opened her little black notebook. There were drawings of all kinds. Flowers, people, characters, cartoons.

“I sometimes wonder if the puzzles of our life would too fit the way they do in the stories. There’s always an author who knows everything,” she said as she turned the pages.

Yali gazed over the notebook, which was the world of her little sister. She had it since she was 12. It was a gift from their grandfather.

“The author doesn’t always know everything, wouldn’t you agree Bela?”

“I guess it’s a journey for them too, eh?”

“Yes, for those in the book and outside the book.”