Is it only autumn when the leaves brown?
Being broken bit by bit
Withering away ever so gently
By the time it’s winter.
A silent farewell midst a riot of
Oranges, yellows and browns.
Picture book pretty even as they die.
So delicate, so fragile
Crumbling at the slightest touch.
Do they never get bruised
In the lushness of spring?
“Your call is waiting…the person you are trying to reach is speaking to someone else…”
I have heard this recorded voice so many times over the years that it’s almost as if I have formed a strange kinship with the woman saying it. I saw her today, in a little cafe. No, I didn’t recognize her by how she looks. But by her inimitable voice as she ordered a coffee. And I think, a sandwich.
So many times I have found the line busy, her voice my only companion. So many times, as I heard her repeat the same lines over and over, I have thought of her. Wondered how she looked. What she liked eating. Who all were there in her family. So many times, being unable to reach my friends over the phone, I have poured out my heart to her. And only her. She seemed so distant. So nonjudgmental. So mechanically comforting.
And there she sat in front of me. Having a cup of coffee. Probably waiting for someone.
It was an early wintry morning in Calcutta. A slight drizzle, a bit of fog.
What I really wanted was to sit down with her over a cup of coffee. But she was on her phone, trying to call someone. Over and over. Not getting through.
What fun! She must have been hearing her own voice, over and over. Telling herself to wait. Like we all often say. Just that we don’t get to hear it in our own voice.
Give voice to your impulse. Speak out loud. And clear. Because sooner than later, you’ll forget all about it.
Speak now or forever hold your peace…
Your mind might be a brilliant montage, a stunning kaleidoscope of creative compulsions. You should let it explode, give the catalyst. Speak about it.
Speak about the divisions and statis in your thoughts, in the government, in filial affections. Speak about the trivialities of everyday life. About the daily subway journey to your office, the coffee shops you visit, the faces that frequent them, the faces that never return.
Negotiate with the mundane and maybe it will reward you with something extraordinary.
Speak about your confrontations with an empty wallet on a Friday night. Speak about your disappointing business lunch, your annoying blind date. Speak about the blessed indulgence of five more minutes on sleep on a Monday morning. Speak about that movie you always meant to watch and finally did, alone, thankfully. Speak about the murderous thoughts you get about a stranger’s bawling kid in a movie hall. You shall not be judged.
Speak about the assumptions of a metropolitan life. About recycled New Year resolutions.
Speak about desire, and desperation. About moments of crisis and failed tests of character.
Speak about the danger lurking around the next corner you take. About sudden bursts of anger that threaten to underpin all the compassion in you. And how you overcome them.
Better still, write about it. Because writing lets you create your own dreamscape. No, it does not have to be a sensual soliloquy, heck it doesn’t even have to be coherent. You’re not scripting an epic monologue for a tragic hero coming to terms with hamartia.
Write for yourself. Write because it gives you freedom.