Rant

Creation

I keep telling people that I’d like to die a filmmaker. A creator. An artist. I’m 28. What have I created?

A couple “short films” when I was an undergrad, yes in quotes, because honestly, they’re not good. They’re not only not good, they’re actually bad. Bad hammy acting, bad dialogue, silly, dumb scripts, you name it. Also, they’re not really films. They’ve been shot on handycams, camera phones, DSLRs on the odd occasion. Not that anyone shoots on film any more. I digress. Like I always do. Then some short film work for grad school. A couple unfinished music videos that I started as side projects but never got around to finishing because I left the editing to others, and everyone else is busy with their own stuff. No, I will not blame others. The fault lies entirely on me; I should’ve followed up. I AM trying to get another music video done, which hopefully sees completion. Then again, these are not original music videos. At least they’re not original songs. I wouldn’t be able to call them my own because I’m using copyrighted music. And we all know how that goes in the world today. You watch Kirby Ferguson’s video essays on everything being a remix, but tell that to the lawyers.

What other skills do I have? I can’t write music, can’t play any instrument. Is it too late to start? Some say it’s never too late, but if I start now, when will I finally get to be good enough to actually create something good and worthwhile out of it? I thought joining Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s website will force me to create something. Fat lot of good that did.

I value my sleep too much. That’s my problem, well at least one of my problems. Every day I make grand plans to wake up early and exercise and have a solid breakfast and then before you know it, it’s past 10 am and I’m late for work. Well, I’m technically never late, because we have flexible work hours, but who goes in to work at 11:30 am? Or noon? This lazy oaf, that’s who.

No, I know I’m not unique. There are a whole lot of people out there who haven’t figured out what they want to do in life. That was cute when I was in my early 20s but now it’s just showing up as being unprepared for life and lazy. 28. Holy shit. That’s on the wrong side of 25. I’m closer to 30 now. I should’ve figured stuff out by now. I’m not saying I should be rolling in money and have had a secure future by now (although some people are definitely retired before 30 in this day and age), but at least have figured out how I’m going to get to do what I want to do.

What I want to do. What do I want to do? I keep saying I want to be a filmmaker, but that’s just saying something. What steps am I taking to get there? I should be making more short films, vines whatever. Making, creating. That’s the only way to become a creator. I need be involved in the art of creation. If not films, then something. What skills do I have? I can’t write or play music, but I can write. Like I’m writing now. I’m not saying I’m a writer or that I have any formal instruction in writing. One can always learn. At least do what I’m doing now. Just write. Something. That’s the least I can do, I think. Start creating.

I see how I’m spending most my time. On YouTube. On Netflix. On Facebook. On fucking Facebook, all of the fucking time. Just watching, consuming. Eating my chips and junk food. I’m a consumer. I need to be on the other side. Be a creator. Create things. Good things, bad things. Create and throw it out at the world. Get feedback. Get better. Better late than never huh?

Better late than never. I’m 28. That’s not too late, is it? I mean, by the time I’m old, do you think modern medicine would’ve evolved to the point where most people are living beyond a 100 years? And living well? Even if not, I can still start now. I’m not 30 yet. I can start now, there’s a couple years left. I must make better use of my time. Two years. Create. Let’s start somewhere.

 

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Rant

Thanks

I picked a good day to be sad and morose.

It’s funny how your friends pick up on stuff. I was being quieter than usual. Which means I was being quiet. I didn’t turn on the TV. Didn’t sing around, play a game, play songs, nothing. Just sat in the couch for a bit. Responded in monosyllables, in a lower pitch. My roommate asked after some time, what’s the problem? Are you ok? You don’t seem normal.

I remarked, I’m totally normal, why do you ask? She replies, you’re not jumping around and singing or dancing. I say, that’s abnormal, to do those things for no reason. So, for me to be normal, I have to do abnormal things. If I act normal, I’m not normal? What? Sometimes, there’s just no satisfying people.

The fact is, yes, I was a little off in the evening. It came upon me suddenly, on the drive back from work. I’m not sure what it was that caused it, but all of a sudden, the usual feelings of sadness and loneliness. Still no girlfriend, no companion. There is a girl with whom I’m chatting these days, but it’s very difficult to hold a conversation with her and I run out of things to say to her soon. There doesn’t seem to be any spark or passion, it’s a very platonic engagement. I don’t feel like forcing something that isn’t there just because she’s a girl and we’re having some conversations. We’ve been on two dates only honestly, so for all it’s worth, there might be nothing here anyway. Which again is a cause for sorrow.

Anyway, in a bid to be normal, I engaged in some conversation, regular conversation though. No unnecessary jokes or trivial discussions. We were discussing about our immigration issues and how to go about those processes. Important matters. Talk veered to the amount of time it’s been since I started at my current job. That led me to look at old emails, the ones with the job offer. The amusing fact though is, the first of those emails arrived a year ago, to the day. Which is why today was a good day to be sad and morose. These were the emails that brought me back from the dead, in all honesty.

I was literally dead. Or at least close to. I know people hate that use of the word “literally”, but it honestly wasn’t far from the truth. I was having one meal a day, consisting of milk and cereal, that too not a lot. I was in bed the whole day, sleeping. Maybe a bit of watching Netflix (ok, a lot of watching Netflix). Basically it was sleeping, Netflix, one meal to keep me alive, but that was it, just barely keep me alive. I was “employed” on paper, but there wasn’t any work for me and there wasn’t any money coming in. I was fast burning through the money that my parents had left me when they’d come for my graduation. I could’ve pulled off maybe, a couple more months at the same rate, with the one meal and days full of sleeping. I was faced with the real decision of leeching off my cousin and staying there gratis until I found a real job. Or returning to India. I had enough money left for that.

Then the email arrives. At first I think it’s the same, usual email. Thanks, but no thanks. Thanks for your application, but we’ve found another candidate to our liking. I was prepared for it, it’s what I’d grown used to reading. Instead, the email is asking me if I’m still interested. Hell yes, of course I’m still interested. I remember the time of the day when I got it, I remember that very well. It was 4 PM. I was in bed, sleep/dozing. With the sun coming through the blinds onto my eyes, while I was trying to stay asleep. I sprang upright on reading the email. I was alert for the first time in weeks. I read the email twice on my phone and then decided this required a little more importance and turned on my laptop.

The next month was one of the most nervous times in my life. I was literally counting my chickens before they hatched, but that’s what I was doing, planning and accounting how much I have left, how much would be required to move, how much for rent at the new place, looking for houses etc. This was before I’d even got any positive response from them. I digress.

This wasn’t supposed to be about how I got my job, and what I did during those dire times. No, this was about thanks, being thankful for where I am now. About not being morose and sad. Being normal, yes. Something has to be done about that. My being normal has to become the new normal. Normal, but thankful. Yes, I still don’t have a girlfriend or partner. There’s no spark or passion. But, like my friend said when I was pulling my hair about the logistics of moving, these are good problems to have. It means the more dire problems of staying alive and putting two good meals on the table are gone. For that I say.

Thanks.

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Short Story

Solitude

His hair ruffled in the light breeze. He usually liked to have his hair neatly combed, but today he didn’t mind what the wind was doing to his hair. He thought it was cool, a little adventurous, his ruffled hair. He always thought his hair was like straw; there was nothing that he could ever really do with it except comb it. So he was thankful to the wind today for being his hair-stylist. Yes, he quite liked the ruffled hair.

He pulled his coat’s collar close, trying to cover his chin. The breeze was a little chilly and he wasn’t really used to this sort of weather. He lived in the middle of the bustling city, driving around in his climate controlled car, working in his climate controlled office, and lived in his climate controlled bachelor’s loft. This was new, a different experience. It had been a while since he had let the wind feel his face. He had been living a sheltered, manufactured life. Everything had been packaged, his job, his loft, his car, even his relationship. Everything with a nice, neat satin knot.

It had been a quick conversation. He took her to her favorite restaurant, let her order whatever she wanted and then ordered some wine for both of them. He felt a little bad and wicked for presenting the moment as something else. He had hoped the time of day would offset the expectation; proposals usually happen at night, allowing for there to be a candlelit dinner and the chance of consequent coitus. Yet, one could never fathom how a woman would interpret every situation. She looked a bit apprehensive, but more in expectation of a slightly different sort of announcement. The food arrived and he tried his best to carry on some small talk throughout the meal. Meal done, she looked at him expectantly. “I’ve had a lovely time these past few months”, he started. Her hint of a smile began to evaporate. She began to lean back in her chair. He thought it might even be unnecessary to say what he had to next, but he didn’t want any shadow of doubt. She was looking away from him, outside the window while he uttered the words. She looked back, dead eyes staring back at him. He held her hand, and thanked her for everything. She said she understood. Dessert arrived, along with the check. He slipped his card and waited for the server to return with the receipt; both sitting in silence. He signed and looked at her once last time. He thought he saw a hint of her eyes tearing up, but she believed she was made of sterner stuff. That was it. He upped and left.

He quite liked the ride of his car. It was a comfortable and functional sports saloon, the sort of car his kind drive. It was black, had the latest communication technology, was fast and would do his bidding as he said it. He looked outside the window and realized that he was far from the city; the landscape had drastically changed. He was no longer in a concrete jungle and he was flanked either by  a soft rolling hill or a wonderful golden grassland. He knew he had arrived.

He pulled over and got out of the car. The sophistication of the car was beginning to get unsettling. Why did it have to be so perfect? So silent, so organized and proper? Why couldn’t it be a noisy hunk of metal that was rude and polluting and would autonomously run over anyone he deemed worthy of being run over? Why was the car his butler? He didn’t know and once he looked away, he didn’t care. He walked away from his motorized butler and into the grass. He was still clutching at his car keys, but the soft feel of the blades of the tall grass released his grip. He walked further into the grass, only to realize that he was now at the edge of the hill. He could look straight down and notice where  had come from. The gray snake in the midst of the golden carpet, with the occasional other vehicle making its way.

He let go. All thought or worry. Every possession he had, every connection he had from the world. He slipped his hand into this pocket and felt his smartphone’s slim body within his fingers. He pulled it out and without a moment’s hesitation, threw it across the drop. He didn’t care where it fell or what it hit, it was gone. He was, for the first time in ages, truly with no one but himself. He was alone. And what a beautiful feeling it was.

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Short Story

A Whisper

All she could hear was a whisper. A soft caress in her ears, his soft sonorous voice reverberating in her head. Then just like that, it was gone. She turned around, to look for him; she was so sure he was there. She could still feel his breath on the nape of her neck. It couldn’t have been; she looked around again, straining and standing on her toes to look above the sea of humanity around her.

Being in that hallway brought back so many memories. The long, lonely walks down the hallway, the occasional jeering, the private minutes spent at the locker. All the years and the distance hadn’t managed to make those moments a part of a bygone era; the insecurity had come rushing back and hit her like a whoopee cushion in the face. She leaned against one of the lockers to catch her breath. She hadn’t imagined it would be this difficult. Leaning on the locker, she looked to the other lockers. She walked further into the hallway to look for her locker. Yes, there it was, right under the sprinkler. They’d painted over it, but when she ran her hand over the door, she could feel her marks underneath the layers of paint. A student came towards the locker and gave her a rude look. She hastily moved away, mumbling some form of apology for the invasion of privacy. The student glanced at her warily as she went about her business.

She had unconsciously moved back to the center of the hallway, students moving around her in both directions. She bit her lip and slowly felt her anxiety ebbing; being an unknown was refreshing. These kids didn’t know her story, they couldn’t care less about a human column in the middle of their hallway. They would just walk around it. She soaked it in, the anonymity; it was powerful, a little intoxicating. She was finally free in that hallway. She closed her eyes.

Then she heard it again. “Sarah, I need you.” His whispering voice. It was so beautiful. The only few moments of solace she had in those four years in that hallway. He wasn’t like the others. Yes, he had a girlfriend, yes, he had his own crowd, she never hung out with them, they didn’t even have any legitimate conversations. But his eyes, they were serene. When she looked at him, she felt included. They had their own little clique. Just him and her. He would nod, smile and occasionally wink at her when they would pass each other in the hallway. There was some sort of unspoken bond; she wasn’t sure if she could call it a friendship, relationship or what. It was a kinship, like they were part of something bigger, and later, they would convene and discuss the duties of that kinship. Until then, the smile and the nod would do.

That moment arrived somewhere towards the end of junior year. She had perfected the art of being aloof and alone, and it had stopped bothering her. She had transcended the high school social jamboree, she knew her purpose there and she was doing it rather well. She was under the radar and she was getting good grades. Her parents were happy with that and she was also functioning like a proper adult; no latent effects of being an outcast. She was getting a healthy dose of culture from the internet, her new best friend. Not that she never exploited her friend like every other teenager, but everything was in moderation. Yet, they had maintained their kinship. That day, as she was enjoying her moments of solitude at her locker, he stopped beside her. “Excuse me, I’m sorry to disturb you”, he started. His voice was mellow, but deep. It was like a nice, firm cushion; firm yet comfortable. She looked around, why was he breaking the kinship? Why would he let others know? There was no shame, no ostracizing. His voice got deeper. “I need you.” Their kinship had been sealed. With what certainty he said, she would never know, but she knew this much that for whatever reason, they had crossed a boundary, and the only direction they could go from there was up.

“You must be Ms. Parker! We’re so glad you agreed to do this for us!”

“Of course, I had to do it. I owe this school my life.”

“How long?” The question just floated there in the room. Kenneth Parker, distinguished adventurer-explorer, after surviving the harshest climates on earth and after facing the worst dangers nature could throw at him, was going to bow out silently. The doctors weren’t hopeful, but they always tried to be their optimistic best. Sarah was always a pragmatist; she had learnt it to be a valuable skill right from high school. She asked the doctors to lay it out like it was. They came clean, and she listened to them. She was calm. Kenneth was for the first time anxious and nervous, he felt he was betraying the kinship. “I’m not feeling bad that I’m not going to be here anymore, I’m feeling bad that I won’t be here for you.” “We’ve always had each other, even the four years of high school.” He nodded. She cupped his hands and looked into his eyes. He held her close, she heard his heart beat rapidly. His trembling hands held her head. Her face contorted, but no noise escaped her. The couple trembled there, standing in the hospital room. She heard his voice, it was still deep and sonorous. The melody was enhanced with the slight tremble in his voice. “Sarah, I need you.”

“We have with us here today, Ms. Sarah Wallace-Parker, the famous microbiologist and herself a distinguished alumnus of Hunter-Crawford, and wife of the late Kenneth Parker. We have suffered a great loss in Kenneth, who like Ms. Parker here, has made not only Hunter-Crawford, but also America proud in the eyes of the world. We would like to invite her to the stage to say a few words about Kenneth, her life-long partner.”

She was calm, like she was calm at the hospital. Her steps were firm as she walked towards the dais. She walked up to the microphone and cleared her throat. She stared at the crowd in front of her, her eyes catching the girl who shared her locker. She let out a wry smile as the girl acknowledged her. Everything faded. As Sarah opened her mouth, all she heard was a whisper.

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Film, Short Story

One of a Kind

This was written more as a screenplay than a short story.

Two men struggle in the living room. Both are wearing a white shirt and a grey/dark blue suit. One has the other in a chokehold. The chokee’s shoes scrape on the carpeted floor, leaving deep furrows in the fabric. They’re both sweating. The choker wears a restrained look, looking away from the man he is strangling. The other man is clawing at the strangler’s hands. He tries to elbow his attacker and hits his mark; he strikes the strangler’s face, but the attacker is unfazed. The victim might break the attacker’s nose, but the attacker still persists. The victim slowly stops struggling and eventually stops moving. The attacker checks to see of the victim is completely out and then lets go of his stranglehold. He looks around, he does not know what to do. He wipes his sweat and straightens his hair. He looks down at his victim again.

Arthur swipes the kitchen knife at Bishop as Bishop dodges it. Arthur attacks once more with the knife, this time a flourish of moves, which Bishop deftly dodges and parries. Bishop blocks Arthur’s attacks and twists his arm to make Arthur drop the knife. Arthur counters with a knee-kick, which Bishop again parries. Arthur is really frustrated at this point, but Bishop still looks collected, ready to parry any of Arthur’s attacks. Arthur lets loose a side kick towards Bishop; Bishop catches hold of Arthur’s leg and hits Arthur’s knee cap. Arthur lets out a howl of pain. Bishop turns Arthur around by his leg and knocks him into the wall. Bishop then proceeds to strangle the knocked down Arthur.

Bishop hides in the bathroom, just as he watches Arthur enter the kitchen. Arthur heads towards the cabinets and takes out a glass. He scrutinizes the glass for sometime. Bishop meanwhile pokes his head out of the bathroom to see what Arthur is doing. He ducks back in as Arthur turns around because he thinks he heard something. Arthur shrugs as he doesn’t see anyone. He places the glass down on the counter, and positions it carefully next to the knife counter. Bishop takes deep breaths in the bathroom and readies himself. He curls his hands into fists. Arthur’s hands are ready near the glass and the knives, as if he’s expecting something. Bishop steps out of the bathroom and a glass come flying towards him. Arthur whips out a knife from the knife counter.

Bishop wakes up sweating, with a start. He is sitting at a chair. He tries to get up, but realizes that he is bound to the chair. He looks down; his legs are tied to the chair. Even his arms are tied to the chair. He feels drowsy. He shakes his head and tries to remember where he came from, why he is there, he can’t seem to remember. He flexes his left arm and notices the veins popping. We see his POV and his vision gets clouded by a red mist; his eyes get bloodshot. Gritting his teeth, he flexes his left arm and rips through his bonds. He gets up awkwardly and kicks himself free from his bonds that tie up his chair. He heads towards the nearby mirror and looks at himself. He can’t remember who he is; he touches his own face repeatedly and feels himself up. He hears footsteps approaching and runs back towards the chair and pretends to be asleep. But no one enters, the footsteps retreat again. He gets up and looks at himself in the mirror again. He leaves the room.

Arthur exits the secret chamber and heads towards his study desk. He looks at his insurance papers and reads over something in particular. He heads towards the room across the hall and stops just outside the door. He notices Bishop through the crack in the doorway, unconscious on the chair. He particularly notices the untied bonds. He chuckles to himself. He heads back to his study and goes up to the secret chamber. He runs his hand over the curtain separating his study from the chamber. He turns his head and goes over to the big power switch in the study. He looks at the chamber one last time, then turns the power off. He heads out of the study and clicks a wireless button as he leaves the room. A huge metallic vault door closes over the study. Arthur heads towards another room, and as he passes the room across the hallway, we see Bishop exiting that room.

Arthur flips open the computer screen. He enters some details into the computer. We see him type on the keyboard. Satisfied with his choices, he straightens a stack of papers beside the computer and heads over to the room across the hall. He peers in and sees the bonds on the chair. It seems as if they’re binding an invisible person sitting at the chair. He looks down at his own arms and then back at the bonds, chuckles dryly to himself and returns to his study. He heads to the secret chamber. He pulls aside the curtain and sits in the small blue hued chamber. He puts some leads on different parts of his body and seats himself comfortably. He closes his eyes and then shudders visibly. Bishop wakes up with a start.

Bishop is lying on the floor with Arthur’s body. He doesn’t know what to do.

We see Arthur entering some details in the computer. We see the following words, being entered.
“Enhanced strength”

Bishop looks at his arms. He looks down at Arthur’s neck and turns it over.

“memory wipe”

Bishop shakes his head, his bruised and bloodied fingers rubbing his temples.

“Modify appearance”

Bishop can’t recognize the face in the mirror.

Arthur enters some numbers, they seem to be GPS co-ordinates.

We see the broken chair with the broken bonds.

“terminate copies when original terminates”.

Bishop feels Arthur’s pulse.

Arthur reads over the clause that his insurance will kick in only if he is murdered.
The feeble heart beat slows down and comes to a stop. Bishop collapses to the floor.

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Poem

A Poem

There I lay, the eyes closed, warm humid breeze blowing over my face
The sand, cushioning my head
Flowing through my hair
Flowing, carelessly, through the strands.

The sea. It weeps. Quietly.
I don’t know why, I can hear her sob, the sea.
Ever so slightly. Sometimes, she’s loud, sometimes, it’s just a sniffle.
She tumbles onto the sand, flowing, through my hair.

It’s cold, her breath, the sea,
As she cries.
I can feel her cool embrace, so cold, so refreshing
Invigorating. She weeps.

I sink, in the sand, it flows.
I lay there in the water, in the sand, that flows
She weeps, the sea
So cold.

I hear the song of the sea. It is calm, it floats.
I am buried, in the cold,
in the warmth, there is comfort
in the embrace.
Her tears. The sea.

I am sinking, my eyes are closed, I am sleeping.
There is comfort in her tears. The sea.

It is dark. My eyes are closed.
Tears. Cold. Comfort. Peace.

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Rant

Panic attack

I’m getting old. I have done nothing yet. Nothing of significance, absolutely nothing of consequence yet. I feel like I’ve wasted my life so far. I still think I am a child, that there is still time left to do things, that I have time still to grow up. Then I look at my classmates, and see what they’re doing and what they have planned. Graduate school is a great leveler. When I say classmates, I mean people two or three years my junior. Sure there are also people who are senior to me, but they’re a miniscule percentage of the class strength and they’ve already accomplished things in their domain. I had just started out, couple of years in the IT industry, which was very much like undergrad. Now I’m here and seeing such driven people. What am I lacking? Why don’t I have that fire, that drive? Why am I so lackadaisical?

I keep joking that I won’t get married before 30. That time isn’t far away. I was 21 just yesterday, today I’m 24 going on 25 in August. Four years, gone just like that. The next 5 will also go like that. What am I going to do by then? Will I be able to support myself by then? Will I be capable of supporting a family by then? Why don’t I have a girlfriend? Good thing I don’t have a girlfriend. I’m having trouble managing my own finances here, everything being so expensive. How am I going to support another person? It’s a good thing that we’re supposed to spend on our girlfriends and spoil them. It’s a rehearsal for spending for the family, supporting the family. If I can’t do it now, how will I do it then? How am I going to reach that point? I don’t know. Absolutely no idea.

I’m getting old now. I am running out of time. By this time, people are self-sufficient and earning. Maintaining themselves. How am I going to manage that? I’m still a kid. I treat myself as a kid. That’s the problem. I’m still keeping small, very tiny goals. Grasshopper. I’m just afraid to start. Afraid to look ahead. I’m in this happy, comfortable, blissful place. It’s fake, it’s not going to last for long. The bubble is going to burst. I know it, and yet, I don’t know how to change it. What am I supposed to be doing? I don’t know.

This is dangerous. I’m scared. I’m getting old. Responsibilities and the world are rushing at me. I have to start earning. But I’m still studying. But this is graduate school. This isn’t regular study. You have to think about earning in the side. So expensive. Cooking. Waking up in the morning. A routine. Discipline. Maybe I’ll start there. Just a simple discipline. We can start there. Children do that. I’m a child, correct. Then let’s start there. With the discipline. I’m writing this at 1 a.m.  no more of that. Wake up early in the morning. Wake up, eat a healthy breakfast, go to school on time. Do your work on time, no distractions. Just like school. Like a child. Start from there. Discipline. Hopefully everything else will fall in place. Then the other things will come about. Saving money, no useless expenditures. Savings. Savings. No more splurging. Spend on food. Spend on keeping myself healthy. Then look to earn. Work. Earn. Income. And savings. Minimal expenditures. Noble thoughts, must start with the discipline. That will change everything.

You can have an epiphany, but it is of no use if you don’t act upon it. I must act upon it. My body should help with this. I have an alarm set for 7 in the morning, but nowadays I just don’t hear it. Like an idiot, I am awake the whole night, my body needs the sleep. How will it hear the alarm in the morning if it isn’t rested? Enough rest. That will help. Discipline. That will change everything. Give the body the rest and all the sleep it deserves. Not more, that is bad. That is what I’ve been doing. That is not good. Discipline. Early to bed and early to rise. Healthy, wealthy and wise. Discipline. That’ll change everything.

I’m getting old. I realize things. But I’m just a child. Discipline. Children have that, they practice it. Start from there. Everything will fall into place then. Things will change.

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