Time for a coffee break
How much sugar do you take?
Life is an unwrapped toffee
Sure! Sure! Hold your coffee
What a lovely cold day
Life is a strong bright ray
Oh! Please drink it when it is hot,
Then go to the market and buy a new pot.
Life is shallow if you can’t see deep
I care less because I don’t want to weep
Now, if you are done, give me your cup
Life is life if seen downside up.
Mr. Podolski was sitting in the attic, smoking idly. He continuously ignored the noise that was coming from downstairs. Everyone was watching the game, football. Both the windows in the attic were open.
For a long time, he was gazing at the blue sky which had some white spots here and there.
‘That’s a goal!’, shouted his grandson, gripped in the game. Mr. Podolski gave a grim grin and lit a cigarette afresh.
He failed to ignore the clouds gathering, the blue sky soon less blue. He thought, ‘they are teaming against me, again, like…that day.’
‘That Day’ echoed inside him as the huge church bell echoed in the town. It revived his rage and furry. In spite of his daily practice, he merely feigned calmness.
He stood up from his rocking chair and reached the window limping. He sharply glanced above while the clouds replied with a thunder.
He tried, tried hard, very hard but failed. His mind’s eye presented a slideshow before him.
Green ground, heavy rain, his white dress no more white but muddy, 90 minutes almost over, scoreboard shining 2-1, the crowd going mad, fans screaming ‘P-O-D-O-L-S-K-I-P-O-D-O-L-S-K-I’, the commentator shouted, ‘it’s a penalty…all eyes on Heinz Podolski now!”
His mind de-fossilized the amber which consisted of the words spoken by his coach before the match. He had said, ‘for some people football is a matter of life and death…I can assure you it is much more serious.’
This was exactly what he thought before hitting the penalty and then…. ‘We won!’ said Mr. Podolski’s grandson, shouting at the top of his voice.
Mr. Podolski’s recollection died away. It was raining outside. He shut both the windows and settled back in his chair.
‘Should I tell grandpa?’ exclaimed the grandson, who was extremely excited to think before speaking up. In a few minutes, though, Mr. Podolski got the answer as his grandson didn’t come upstairs.
He sat in the dark attic with the steady smoke all around him. He soaked the thundering sound and the heavy rainfall that gave his face a plastic expression and his eyes some moistness.
Falling colourful lights
Red and yellow
And I sway, sway
Like a dancing ray
A shade of black
Let us go back
To the colours
Jo loves kite flying and he is flying one right now. His kite is bright red and cheerful. Jo is a very skillful boy and he knows all the tricks needed to fly a kite high.
Dramatizing happily, he tells his friends, ‘Look at my kite…soaring high, up above the sky’. All the boys burst out laughing and Theo animatedly sings ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ while an out-of-tune chorus follows him.
These kids are full of fun at the moment. Life is beautiful for them.
The kite flies high. Wind is also playing with it; taking it high and low, twisting and tickling it.
A kite has a wonderful life. Everyone looks at it with awe when it glides and dances along with the wind and the kid holding the string also feels it. A kite is joyous by nature. It brings smile on the face that looks at it. It has only one purpose in life and that is to fly high in the free sky.
Jo knows nothing but one thing that kite flying on a holiday is his life’s purpose. He didn’t even know how to spell the word purpose correctly, his English dictation test is a non-living proof of this fact, but he knew this feeling very well.
It is something to do with passion and excitement and playing well and concentration. These big words are also a problem for him, especially to remember the spellings. Jo knows the feeling and not the spelling of such words, how silly and smart of him to be so.
Jo shouts, ‘I am flying…see I am flying… o twinkle twinkle little star oye, here I come oye’.
A sound of real, innocent, pure somewhat like the rustling of the leaves, laughter filled that lucky area.
Pleasure is all around here. It is a vanilla cake sweet moment.
Slowly the winds begin to get crazier; Jo understands immediately that now is the time to fight and stay alive. All the kites are ready for the battle. Who is their enemy? Not an outsider, they are against each other. Jo tells his kite, ‘Come on… fight hard… it’s an order!’
The bright red kite gets tangled up with the black one which is Mat’s kite. ‘It’s a knot!’ said a kid (who exactly spoke, we don’t know, anyway something more important is going on up above in the sky).
It’s the nature of the strings to get tangled, form knots and then break away.
Jo warns Mat and Mat challenges him. The mad winds knew it, Jo and Mat knew it, and the kites knew it- one will be defeated and it’ll fall.
That lucky area is now filled with exclamations, some funny, some ridiculous.
And without any final announcement it happened. Jo feels it, the string is now loose in his hand, and he looks at Mat for a millisecond. All of them stare upwards. His bright red kite is gliding away with the winds.
To his surprise, it is not alone as now the black kite is also gliding away.
Jo and Mat, half-glad, scream excitedly. Walking towards each other; their little gang members encircle them. Whatever the two say, the other boys find it entertaining.
The kites are gone, says their experience in kite flying. Like mirror images of each other, Jo and Mat begin the debate.
Possession is powerful, it can make enemies (but in this case, just for a while).
Let us leave the kids alone, they’ll be alright soon.
Life is very funny and very fickle minded. It jumps from one emotion to the other. But then this is how life is by nature. The interesting thing is that kites don’t copy life, kites always remain in one state and that is the happy state.
So look where the bright red kite is going. Colour is beautiful and this is a truth. One will naturally follow the colourful kite.
Oh! The way it matches with the dance winds do, is heavenly. It seems this kite wants to reach a selected place. It is driving for itself. But the trees are near now, will it get to rest on a tree?
No! It lands safely in a garden. Who lives here? Someone is pruning the plants there. It is Mr. James. The kite fell in Mr. James little garden.
Don’t know what will happen now. Mr. James is very old. See he walks with a limp and can’t see properly. Oh, he picked up the kite. He is checking it. Is he trying to read the kite? Maybe he thinks it is a newspaper or something.
Anyway, he’ll know what he is holding when he wears his reading glasses. Surely there is nothing to read in a kite.
He sits on the lawn chair, but without washing his hands? He is a clean freak and there is some dirt on his hands.
What is he trying to find in this kite? Perhaps he likes the material of the kite. He is rubbing his hands against the kite. And now he smells it. The kite must have been prepared using a high quality paper.
Mr. James is caught in a reverie. His eyes are looking bigger. Where ever he is, it is a good and happy place. There is a grin on his face. He suddenly looks peaceful.
A bicycle passes outside his gate and rings the cycle-bell. God knows why the bicycle rider did so, surely not to wake-up Mr. James. But see, he breaks out of his daydream. He looks around and gets up. His expression changed, though it isn’t that clear due to the wrinkles. He looks at the sky and then at the kite.
Moving towards the house leisurely, he bends slowly to keep the kite on the top staircase. Then he returns to work in the garden.
Even the flowers and the bushes and the leaves he was pruning could tell that Mr. James is still pondering about something.
After five or so minutes, Mr. James gets up, fixed on the spot, shares with his garden, ‘I know all the tricks to fly a kite high…up above the sky’.
He is now beaming, now humming something, it is not clear. But then it is the nature of the aged people, they have a smiling face, they answer in a mystical style (unclear to others) and they always chew the songs they enjoyed in their life.
Freedom from life
Or finding freedom in life,
What a joyous ride,
Especially if you are a kite.
A lover’s thought
Behind the leaves
Open eyes gaze at you
I turn, can still see you
Moon Shadowy Moon
I took a step forward
· 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.