The frowning skies wept and our traveler — the poet — ran out onto the terrace to feel the touch of the first drops against his sun-wearied face. The morning gloom of a rainy day couldn’t apprehend the joy of his heart. Also, summer rains filled him with solemn hope and a love of life. A steady procession of droplets followed but the poet, not afraid of getting wet, stood his ground. Drops of water slid down his dank hair onto his face, and occasionally some found way into his eyes. He ran his fingers through his hair and wiped his face with the palm of his hand. Even the fear of catching a cold wouldn’t persuade our traveler for he hadn’t known such resuscitation ever.
A poem was coming to him in the form of childhood memories, long forgotten. The opening lines were about watching other children play in the streets on rainy days from a window. Ordinarily, he would have reached for his diary and penned down the naive lines- as he used to call them- to put them into shape later, but the rain was so reviving and enchanting that he let go the urge of noting them down. He would wait for the entire poem to come to him, and, in the meanwhile, relish the rain. As he gazed far out into the city, he felt one with it. In doing so, he realized that this feeling of convergence with his surroundings which overwhelmed him was far more important than his intellectual pretensions. This one moment might just as well have been that moment of elusive internal peace which we all seek throughout our lives.
When the feeling died out, our traveler made straight for his dairy and started writing the lines that had come to him. In writing them, he found most of the crazy wild lines that had floated over the din of the falling rain had sneaked out of his mind. He tried hard to remember the lines but was drifting farther and farther away from the poem. At some point he lost track of his thoughts. His mind wafted in and out of contorted memories and thoughts. Outside, the rain was falling with an ever increasing intensity.
The rain continued falling through the morning into the afternoon and he feared that his afternoon stroll through the city might get affected. An umbrella was what he needed and he began to search the closet for one. The lines of the poem were still haunting him but remained evasive. He decided to play patience patiently and wait for them to resurface through the labyrinth of his subconscious into the broca’s area in the posterior inferior frontal gyrus of his brain. For those interested, it is where expressive language takes shape. Like the lines, the umbrella too was not to be found.
At lunch it was raining cats and dogs, and he opted to eat in the balcony overlooking the street. Men and women were teeming hurriedly through the streets. In a far corner to his left some children were playing football with a plastic ball. At one end of their field an electric pole and a gate pillar served as a goal post and at the other, the good old fashioned two bricks placed a metre apart. He had done the same in his childhood. Some things never change, he concluded. It is worth reiterating that how often, those wounded in the heart by life or love find a salve for their pain in their pain, or in the pain of others. The same goes for their joys; they find happiness in the happiness of others like in the mirth of those children jumping in and out of the puddles of mud.
After lunch, he settled into a chaise lounge set in the balcony and started reading passages from James Joyce’s Ulysses. Here, I’ll recount one of the shorter passages that he read:
Reading two pages apiece of seven books every night, eh? I was young. You bowed to yourself in the mirror, stepping forward to applause earnestly, striking face. Hurray for the Godammned idiot! Hurray! Now one saw: tell no one. Books you were going to write with letters for titles. Have you read his F? O yes, but I prefer Q. Yes, but W is wonderful. O yes, W. Your epiphanies on green oval leaves, deeply deep, copies to be sent if you died to all the great libraries of the world including Alexandria. Someone was to read them there after a thousand years, a mahamanvantra. Pico della Miranda like. Ay, very like a whale. When one reads these strange pages of one long gone one feels that one is at one with one who once….
This he did until he dozed off in the chaise-lounge draped in a shawl. When he woke up it was raining deers’ and gazelles accompanied by a rumbling in the skies that we know as thunder, and, of course, there was lightning too. It ignited more childhood memories (of which there will be a mention in the poem once it is compiled) and traces of the poem resurfaced on the surface of his thoughts. This time he took notes of his idiosyncrasies (which you will find in one of his notebooks once I make them public). I should also tell you out of the numerous textbooks the brown one records the happenings of that day.
Here the reader might feel inclined to ask how I came in possession of the poet’s personal effects! I kept them when I was asked to salvage his belongings from the cheap hotel room he had rented. The only phone no. they could find in his notebooks was mine. I like to think that these were bequeathed to me by friendship.
When the time for his afternoon walk came there was a certain secession in his manner. Somehow, he didn’t want to go out that afternoon, and eventually he did not. This meant breaking a years old routine but he couldn’t care less. Whether this was on account of the weather or the poem is not mentioned in the notebook. However, there is an allusion to the rain drops threatening to flood the surface drains. Let us consider the situation like it was raining hippos and rhinos at the time. I must also intimate the reader that heavy nimbus clouds adorned the sky; wholesome clouds that don’t have a silver lining. Just then a blinding flash of lightning cracked through the ashen skies. A loud burst of thunder followed which rattled the window panes and he could feel a chill rising through the ridges of his spine as the lights went out. The day was dark and for a moment(a hundredth of a second) the city fell silent, and then life resumed.
The darker it got the heavier the rains fell and then it seemed that the rain would fall on forever,or, perhaps, that’s what the poet wished. On the balcony he could hear the din of the falling rain on the roofs of the buildings, and in the streets below, drenching everything wearied by a long and dry summer.
Now that the overwhelming feeling which had been growing in him since the rains started began to cross the limits of his consciousness, he closed his eyes to summon attendance of all his senses. In the bottomless world of darkness of his closed eyes, that weighty silence, everything was as it was supposed to be. Everything was striving towards perfection, however, without competition. The confusion of the poem had already cleared from his mind. The ever perspicacious urge to write was gone, lost to the shades of darkness which he encountered there. Perhaps, it was owing to this carefully maintained equilibrium of the world of his closed eyes from which nothing could be removed, and to which nothing could be added. Utopian, as it may sound, it was, and he a part of it. And there in that perfectly quiet silence too, it was raining.
Rain gives life new life, he concluded. However, this may not be the only conclusion that he might have come to in the silent dark world of his closed eyes. In a careful perusal of his notebooks I found hortatory passages with didactic overtones as if the poet was trying to look at his life from without, advising and instructing his own character in his own story. Well, this is only a two-pence-story-tellers way of putting it, and I think poetry would do more justice to them, or must I say that this where one reaches the limits of story telling; human emotion can be so abstract and random that only refined language can fully express, and still what needs to be conveyed can’t be exactly addressed. Also, I confess story-telling is a sort of a more liberal art of writing and one can afford to be crude, and hence lacks the precision and effect of poetry.
He stood there eyes closed for a period of time unbeknown to him. It could have been a few minutes, a quarter or half an hour. Like a dream he could not behold the exact moment when this trance descended upon him. When he opened his eyes he could sense an elation which could not be weighed in mind and understood, but sensed like a glow inside the heart of his heart and it seemed to him that in everything he did from then on, he would, in effect, be a strand of an all consuming beatitude. In that moment, according to the brown notebook, he shed off all his previously held specious beliefs, opinions, prejudices and aesthetic preferences, and became new. And in becoming new he must have decided to disappear for there is nothing that the notebook says about it, and also there is nothing else that I, as the storyteller, can conjure.
For the reader it must be really hard to come to terms with this story (which at times does not seem like a story at all.) However, sometimes it is important for a writer to take some load off their chest, and especially when they have not written in a long time. As for my friend, our traveler – the poet, I wish him the very best in whatever he decided to do with his life from that point onward and hope that he found what he sought.