That high school year passed too quickly, swiftly, madly and you could not believe it – holding unsaid messages in one hand and uncertain life decisions in the other, you had stepped out of the school gate.
Footsteps, voices, promises, laughter, you could hear it all, but when you had turned, you saw no one there.
Suddenly on your own, with phone calls, messages not being good enough and the classroom meetings of everyday, of every month, for so many years, suddenly took over by hostel walls, you were hit strongly.
The everyday meetings become few, fewer, rare… and the bond?
Presently, it makes a good happy place within you.
If you remember that last high school year, the last month, friends leaving town, and maybe you too leaving for a hostel, all by yourself, then you will love Nautanki*.
A 2022 feature film, Nautanki, is a coming-of-age drama that calmly, brightly, innocently tells its story. It never forces any thoughts nor is it in a hurry to reach a dramatic point in the protagonist’s saga.
A very rare film that allows the viewer to be on a journey without the burden, aggression of being on one. Not fulfilling a duty, but just observing and exploring honestly, as much as one can.
Joshi will leave the town after his 10th standard exams and his best friend, Priti, wonders if he has learnt anything at all, to pass the exams and in life, in general.
Experimenting with the flow, twisting the technique, the film progresses beautifully – where to, you ask, we don’t know for we too are moving with Joshi.
Fun times and fights with friends, that ‘not-speaking-anymore’ zone, the reunions that colours our high school years give us a tool for sure before thrusting us towards the end, the beginning.
A tool that navigates.
And with our very own – skilled, unskilled, aware, unaware – hands we write our life’s drama.
Joshi, who knows simply to be – not in the moment, he is ‘moment-free’, he is super careless/carefree – eventually will be pulled into the world’s drama…
Yes, no? And what role will he play in the Nautanki?
*Nautanki is a Hindi word that means drama in English. It is used to refer to a style of theatrical performance that is usually more showy, exaggerated and over-the-top than traditional types of theatre. Nautanki performances often include elements like music and dance.
Nibbling the leaves and thorns, reaching for its yellow flowers, suddenly, Jhui-Mui the little goat made a novel request to the Khejri tree, “please tell me a story.”
Jhui-Mui’s mum and other goats chuckled a bit, then continued surfing the shrubs spread around the Khejri tree for shade, water and love.
The tree which gave, for centuries, both food and medicine to all, with its ground bark to make a flour during the very many parched famine days, and its deep-deep roots that held the soil and directed the researchers to the cool water table, the desert’s old friend, Khejri, knew a pocketful of folktales too.
The Khejri tree told Jhui-Mui the little goat about a four-hundred-year-old tree, one who belongs to its own family, but lives in a far-off desert, alone on a barren hill, with roots fifty meters deep and long groovy, harmonious branches that welcomes every traveller and every story.
“What is its name?”, asked the beady eyed, happy Jhui-Mui. “The Tree of Life”, replied the Khejri tree and hummed an old tune that filled the arid air with cool magic.
More than a century later Mandarin D again visited the Tinsukia district of Assam with a colourful cryptic message for all.
The transformed world looked the same everywhere and yet Mandarin D observed it buoyantly. Ripples borrowed orange, purple, green and the floating plants, transfixed, only swayed when Mandarin D swam elegantly.
That change is constant, O believer, do not lose hope, that every action counts, O dreamer, do not stop walking, that life is living in the present, O dear, have faith in yourself… Mandarin D read some lines from the message.
But I know, it is up to us to decipher the tone of the message; I picked the fantastical, the awe-inspiring, and folk-tale-like tone for my message – one that promises to surprise, play mystical rhymes and make the impossible possible – and felt elated.
‘That is beautiful, that is indeed the message for you’, said Mandarin D and left suddenly without bidding adieu.
I wonder which tone you will pick for your message.
How well crafted this story of ours is, we get to share motivations that encourage, no matter, even if it arrives a century later.
Check out the news article that inspired me to write this post here.
And you will never know, I will never show, what I feel, what I need from you, no.
The salmon coloured light is bright in me and still, you cannot see. This colour is all over the space and at night the salmon coloured moon shines to tell you the same, but still, you cannot hear.
Oh no, I am not upset, I am saying it out loud for I know the story now. I love this story now.
Raphael took his bow and arrow that day and went to the jungle to hunt, like any other day. Raphael you saw that hare and you readied yourself, you shot and missed it.
What happened, why did you smile then? Ah, the hare was of salmon colour too, right? You smiled and ran your fingers through your hair, I know.
And you will never know, I will never show, what I feel, what I need from you, no.
Stop shying away… you from me and me from you. Cannot you feel the salmon coloured road on which we are walking? Miles apart and years away, destined to meet along the way.
The journey began long back, neither I nor you remember when. But it is sweeter that way, for there is a mystery and scope for the unexpected.
Raphael when the heart breaks, it takes not a moment to bring it all to an end. Raphael the tears only wish for love.
Fighting in the battle when you took a step ahead, so did I, struggling against the mean voices and terrible lies. The salmon coloured sky reached out to both of us then, I know because I believe in the story.
And you will never know, I will never show, what I feel, what I need from you, no.
We will hold hands and dance and clap and sing together, painting the walls around in salmon colour.
I am not afraid of forever, are you? Tell me this and more when we meet.
Post inspired by Imany’s beautiful, soulful song “You will never know.”
While walking through the green pastures, the valley of colourful flowers, the dragon suddenly found herself in the desert where the scorching sun stroked her, burnt the sand, splashed mirages everywhere…
… when a strong stroke of warm air tossed the dragon off the ground reminding her that she has wings, which she then fluttered, crossing a gush of gold dust, she closed her eyes for a wink of a second and the world around her changed…
… as she saw the sky-scraping waterfall in front of her, amazed she thought am I dreaming, but did not wait for the answer and plunged towards the waterfall, shouting in joy and adding to its rhythm.
Oh, dragon you are so lucky, here the winters never seem to end and when it does, it is followed by another winter.
Who is asking for the spring? It will be a blessing if I see autumn.
Oh, autumn! The ocean of orange leaves crumple and swirl in my mind all the time, but what I see is the dry hypnotised land, grey and white, and dark and mossy.
Why cannot I be the witness of a twist in my story?
The dragon soared into the air; neither the hail nor the lightening could stumble her once, and crossed the clouds, the drumming music muffled soon as the lush rainbow appeared in full gusto.
You have got wings dragon, probably that is why you can bring twists in your story.
Ah! I have been walking since that cloud burst forced me to leave my hideout and I am still walking. The path I took glistened with frost and I fell twice.
Rough stairs took me up the mountain and just where I stopped to rest, I saw some dandelions dancing, happy about something.
When I smiled with them I was reminded of a wish and at the same time, the rising wind whispered a message, overwhelmed I resumed my journey, my story.
So Carl saw a crow feasting on a Lays packet thrown on the roadside by an insensitive/ a silly/ confused/ messy person. That crow croaked and called his friend to join. Carl stood there for a long while, thinking and thinking.
When did this switch happen that the crows are opting for Lays, that also spicy flavour, rather than their normal diet? Is it by choice or the circumstances are no more junk-food-free for the crows?
The crows fly away and take the Lays for their young ones, who slowly adept to the tangy taste. All the crows sitting on the wire talk about it and the one flying far outside the city takes the news along. As time rises and sets every day, the crows become accustomed to the plastic packed diet plan.
And the story is rewritten… the thirsty crow finds a pot of water and a half-eaten doughnut, he chooses to binge on the doughnut, because he isn’t really thirsty, it is just the spicy lunch that burned the crow’s tongue… and the crow knew that water cannot solve his problem, so, children, the moral of the story is, directly go for something sweet and easier when your mouth is burning and you’re struggling…
Carl was staring at the crows and the passers-by were staring at him. Suddenly, Carl rushed towards the crows and shooed them away. He then picked up the Lays packet and threw it in a dirty dustbin nearby.
A sigh of relief! Carl started to walk away, where ever he was going to when he first heard the crows. He turned, the crows sitting on the lamp post where looking at him, they croaked. Carl smiled and said, “Thirsty Crow is my grandma’s favourite tale.”
Carl knew the crows have understood his words, beaming, he walked ahead.
Aaahhh! A crow flew and pecked him on his left ear. So, Carl stood there rubbing his left ear and the crows took a flight to Hawaii.
Stories are happening, stories are being written, stories are being ended, stories that are new meets stories that are old, everywhere, in every life a story is taking place.
Now imagine a place, long back in time, a grand place, the centre of a huge empire that today rests quietly, patiently the ruins hold itself against time, vanishing slowly but never getting defeated.
Persepolis, the city of the Persians, awaits quietly and patiently a time, it stands composedly and accepts what it witnessed, giving one a good hint of its past who then leaves taking along an unfinished story that also awaits a time, a time of completion.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Marjane Satrapi has a story, it’s titled Persepolis. A beautiful way to begin a story, to merge the storyteller with her past, present and future, to the place she belongs.
Marji’s story is a story of constant reminder – a reminder about the holy myth, burden passed on by the lineage, large scale bloodshed done by mistake, wars of the sexes; it is also a reminder of true love, beautiful dreams, hope and faith, strength to stand up, courage to bow down, belief in freedom and humanity.
Marji’s story is a fusion of all of this and more that makes life, life. Marji shares it wonderfully from her perspective and whether you know her or not, you will connect to it, for your life too is a story.
So much to be explored, many such Persepolis to be seen, a Marji waiting to tell her story everywhere, a life to be lived today, in the present, a story to be written, today in this very second.
Embark on a similar journey and you will reach a Persepolis and be enthralled by its mere presence. You will become Marji and look back with a smile.
And I almost always forget. Sigh! Not that whether I am going forward or backward, is it the oblate spheroid earth or vertical me, the flowing time or the following life, the dream within dream or the dreamy me… but the funny fact that I have gone through all this before, in different measures, small degrees, little proportions and reflected on quite often.
Still, I simply, pleasingly forget.
Then things repeat, without my knowledge. Lucid ideas shine through and bring sense back to this life. Life! Surely very confident of itself, life is. Just look at the way it is happening.
Living an usherette’s life, I watch my story playing in every other story. A happy wallflower, that’s how confident I am. Dashingly, entering the stage in my mind, I take over. The glee moment, ideas collected elegantly.
Reality is not a plain horror story, it depends… just like senility is not only for aged, but it depends.
Oh! I mean, let us pick five memories and analyze all very humbly. Then watch a classic black and white movie and read a ‘must-read-before-you-die’ book, all very scrupulously.
Also, travel to a place never been before, pick it directly from your bucket list. Great!
After doing all this, surely vicariously for now, a tremendous clarity falls on the point I have been trying to make.
Life and the happenings, routine feelings and memories, hard hitting failures and mild successes, dreaming-trying-acting-dreaming and in the end, facing the underlying theme vibrant in every direction, almost deafening once observed, right?
No! What! No? Fine, am sorry, then forget it.
But, please, at least, try to deconstruct what is repeated in your life. That is all.
· I prefer ink pens if I have an option and I strongly feel that the white paper thinks the same. The smoothness with which it works makes bad handwriting elegant, adding to it an old-world charm.
· ‘Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone…’ this song is stuck in my head. I cannot put pen to paper when my mind is out for a stroll somewhere in a far land.
· I think I know what will be the name of the main character in my story. I will call him Shakespeare. What a wonderful name for a tree. This will be so as the other character Tim, a kid, who after reading a story in his English class written by William Shakespeare is captivated by the music of the surname and decides to name the Tree, Shakespeare. The Tree, Tim’s best friend, will be a large, leafy and shady tree. It looks quite okay so far. I hope I’ll complete the story in time.
· I love to come on this hilltop. What a calm place this is. My eyes can see greenery everywhere, with a shade of blue, as if these are God’s favourite colours. And the birds fly here and there as if they are the paintbrush. I think I will be able to pour my heart into my writing, in such a beautiful place. God bless the person who thought of putting a bench in this place. Oops! Please teach manners to some idiots who enjoy putting chewing gums on the benches. Hah!
· The story is moving at a good pace. I feel both, Tim and Shakespeare the Tree, are looking strong. But if I am to consider what my teacher said, dealing with an experimental plot like mine could result in a lame tale. Nevertheless, I am going to stick with what I have thought of. Do we have the liberty to express ourselves or not? So what if one enjoys writing absurd stories?
· Well, I haven’t written much for a long time. My lovely ink pen looks dry lying on the table by the notebook. I wonder what the ink pen is thinking. Maybe it is waiting to pour fresh ink on the paper and make cursive designs. Maybe it dies when one is not using it and when used, it comes back to life. I can’t forget that scene when Ella trying to fill the ink pen, somehow managed to spill the inkpot all over, staining her new dress. She shouted at me because the ink pen was mine and blamed me for the disaster. I didn’t reply because I was busy laughing and cleaning the site of the accident.
· The highlight of my story will be the interesting conversations between Tim and Shakespeare the Tree. Tim will be a sensitive boy, who notices and relishes each and every movement of the Tree- the dance of every single leaf and every branch, the falling of all the old leaves, the ants walking non-stop on the Tree, sometimes tickling the Tree and the habit of the Tree to make the leaf always fall in the pool of water. Shakespeare the Tree will be like its name- grand and simple, mysterious, life-giving and a great actor. An actor who knows its role very well and performs it perfectly with such swiftness that it looks dynamically static.
· It is raining today and Ella doesn’t like it. We cancelled our plan. Ella messaged me ‘rainfall… not happening yaar’ and I agreed, though I didn’t in reality. I like the rainy season; the dominant sound of rain splashing everywhere; watching the birds trying to hide; the dripping roof; and the hot coffee. Thanks to the rain, I’ll add a chapter about it in my story. A sequence about how Tim rushes to save himself from the heavy shower and finds Shakespeare the Tree as his rescuer…but not like a cliche, it should represent the bond between the two friends.
[After a few days.]
· I am excited because tomorrow I’ll present a sneak peek of my story in the class. And so will the other participants. I’ll have to make the opening sound both reasonable and authentic. I think I’ll be able to sustain the interest of all those who will hear me out. I’ll end the summary in verse.
Tonight the moon looks quite talkative or maybe I can hear more.
The Moon: Do you know about my friend Cactus? He lives in a desert. Me: How calm one gets just by looking at you. The Moon: You talk like my friend Cactus. He said he enjoys my calm white rays. Me: What is that you want to say dear Moon? The Moon: A lot. It’s quite lonely up here sometimes, you know. I’ll tell you about my other friend, he is a sailor. But later sometime, for now, I wish you a sweet night. Me: Talk to you soon. I am feeling sleepy. Good night!
· I got an average response in the class. It is so that people like straightforward love stories and adventure tales more than any experimental tale like that of a friendship between a boy and a tree. Well, this will not stop me from continuing. I asked my ink pen and he said nothing. Instead, he was ready to write. So was I.
· Tim can’t be a single child or an adopted child or mentally challenged or troubled at school or anything weird and obvious. Tim should be normal and a happy go lucky child. I want him to be one of us, whose innocent mind bonds with a tree. I think I’ll make him a hostler and his school will be in a beautiful hill station. This sounds familiar but I have to start with this basic idea. Because later in the story I’ll have to deal with lots of How’s and Where’s etc.
· Shakespeare the Tree will be an Oak tree and I was always clear about this; a big tree with canopy branches and spiral leaves. Like all the trees, this one too will be warm and welcoming. I feel we all have been friends with a tree or will be in future. Not a single tree in the world needs the help of words to express itself. Their aura is such that if we get close to them we immediately sense the connection. This is what I and Tim believe.
· Ella disagrees. I never want to fight with my best friend but we sometimes upset each other a lot. Like yesterday she said that the story is too “something” and when I asked her to describe exactly what this “something” is, she said it is risky to write such out of place stories. We are not talking, for now.
· After two days she messaged me sorry. I did the same. We are back.
[The girl writes a lot about herself and her thoughts.]
· I am irritated. What was Ma’am thinking when she asked us to empty our minds and hearts and see how the zine list helps us?
[Crux of the story.]
· Tim and Shakespeare the Tree: it is about a blessed friendship between Tim, a 5th standard kid and an oak tree, who is named Shakespeare the Tree by Tim. He names him so because he is impressed by the grandeur of William Shakespeare when his English teacher talks about the legend in the class. Tim wishes to call the magnificent Tree by a magnificent name. He visits the Tree daily and enjoys talking with the Tree. Tim is astounded by the fact that the Tree offers so much to the surrounding. He decides to be like his friend Shakespeare the Tree when he grows up, to be as helpful as the Tree is. Without giving a thought about the future, he delightfully gets close to the Tree.
[She is ready.]
· Tomorrow morning I’ll submit the story. Fingers crossed!
[Before throwing the writing pad away she writes.]
· My teacher announced the name of the story that was selected for the competition. It wasn’t mine. Ella cheered me up and we went shopping. She asked me not to take it seriously. I told her that I am fine. We both knew I lied.
[No one told Time that it can stop and rest. And so, the life of the girl who wrote the zine list went on. She became a teacher and her dream to be a writer didn’t come true… life wasn’t the way she had imagined. Ella is still her friend but they are not in touch. Ella is married and lives in a foreign country. That girl is now a lady, who works to earn, to survive.
She is presently in her class. She is talking about writing competition. She encourages all her students to participate. Students burst with questions but she is lost. For a second she enters a reverie. She comes back and asks the class to make a zine list related to their stories. It helps she adds.
She reaches home and drinks tea. She knew she’ll not be at rest until she finds her zine list. She rummages all the racks. She finds it and unfolds it. The thin writing pad was old but half of the pages were blank… half filled. She reads through the zine list. Then she picks up her pen and writes.]
· I am writing with a ball pen. It doesn’t matter much. All you need is words.
[She rubs her wet eyes.]
· I am glad that my teacher didn’t choose my story, it wasn’t well-written. My story was too sunny and happy. The title for instance Tim and Shakespeare the Tree…what was I thinking? And the chitchat between little Tim and the Tree…everything was like a dream, it was out of place.
[She looks outside the window.]
· Life is such a shrewd player that you are bound to lose. I have not lost. I avoid participating. But I’ll write a fair ending to this story here. And let me give a fair opening to it as well. The writer in me is back. Funny me!
· Tim walked into the jungle. As soon as the voice of all the other campers was absorbed by the colossal forest, he thought of returning. He felt the hushes piercing. He was scared but soon the natural noise sunk in him. He took a deep breath and felt alive. He didn’t realize when the serene madness of the jungle entered within him and brought him in front of a giant oak tree. It was godly. Tim felt as if the branches of the Tree were ready to give him a tight hug. Seeing the gigantic structure Tim took a step back. But in a few minutes, he got hypnotized and sat near the Tree, adoring it and letting it seep inside him. He knew somehow that the Tree was waiting for him for a long time. He had a feeling that he was meeting a very old, dear friend. Tim was staring hard. Then he looked around. Nearby, a stream was playing a sweet melody and Tim started humming. Nature is always at its best. Always perfect. Receiving everyone with an everlasting, undying warmth. Tim didn’t realize it, but soon he fell asleep. The smile on his face made it evident that he was at peace.
· Why am I not Tim? Why have I never tried to meet my old, dear friend? Life can be so mean if you don’t appreciate it. I find myself empty.
[She stops writing and looks outside the window again.]
· I hope the idea of making a zine list will help my students. It’s a crazy class. Boys are busy fighting and shouting and girls love giggling excitedly. I love all of them. And those two girls, they are always together, I have noticed their Best Friend Forever bands.
[Another Sigh! She adds.]
· “Tim and Shakespeare the Tree” remains my favourite.
Clouds in the evening sky/
Tell the old mountains a secret 'secret'/
Lights on, we turn deaf.
A storyteller, following the ancient tradition of cave chroniclers, standing in vrikshasana (the tree pose) on a hill top (it is sunny, but windy), breathing in and out stories (relishing it all, but at times overwhelmed), declares animatedly that she will continue to – tell stories, share rare story gems, and connect with the pacy universe while also keeping the website ad-free.
Big thanks to my readers. Stay tuned!
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Chiming Stories (formerly Home Chimes)
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Gabbeh, the 1996 film, is a simple tale of a gipsy girl, her clan and the way their life goes on. Unfolding beautifully just like an artist painting a canvas, Gabbeh quietly touches the grand questions.
Godard… Breathless and Alive
A Tribute to Jean-Luc Godard, the Film Philologist who Reinvented Cinema.
Arthdal Chronicles is a South Korean fantasy drama TV series that takes us back to the Bronze Age in a mythical land named Arth, where different human species and tribes struggle to be on the top of the power pyramid.
Yes fly! For walking on the second track is dull and usual, but dreaming high, high, high requires tools. Tools like the right pair of shoes, a chirpy, gritty soul that eats butter-jam dreams, a soul that drinks milky-milky creams.
Universe’s a Disciplined Place
Silver cascade shimmering the night sky, music to the waves and surreal beauty to the eyes, the Moon loves the art of discipline.
It may be difficult to believe for the Moon’s splendour defies time, it stupefies the clock, it follows the path of a dreamer, but how could this be possible if the Moon knew not discipline?