Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Stories from Here and There: verses of Hocus Pocus! - Epi - I

 Stories from Here and There: verses of Hocus Pocus!

  Episode I : Lama

 We are all bound by the stories that we have lived and the stories that we tend to tell, stories we cherish and the stories we try to forget, stories that boost our morals, stories that make us hopeless, stories that we were told once adeptly, that we follow the myths and mythologies in it – some stories are our very basis of existence. Our fallacies of beliefs into stories, explain the extend of our religiousness.

 So, there they were, as the sun rays hit the greatest gift of American Architecture to the world – parking lot. With dews shining and reflecting lights, with their every last moment, as they turned from icy layers to combined droplets on cars, a fellow Dessup lady who had ascended and descended the two staircases of the building, calling all the tenants. Tenants, who wished that their house owners forgot to raise their rents, and government or bosses increased their salaries, at least this particular year. They all thought and wished, and all they had were chaos of wishes and hopes, dreading their house owners, owners who forgot that they too were tenants in this planet.

It had already been fifteen minutes and they were told that out of the nineteen flats, two of the tenants were yet to show up. They had all gathered, as the second lockdown hit Bhutan, a ballad they were having with their electricity bills which they were yet to discover. Like a common man’s first time visit to a Five Stars Hotel : how can bill be this high, when all you served was a spinach leaf with two drops of olive oil? Sir, we grow our own spinach and olive! You come here for the sake of seeing our chef’s artistic career, which he had forgone while he chose cooking?

 As Dophu looked around the building, the vapours from his nostrils and mouth made him look like as if he had lit a cigarette. But despite the looks deceiving, Dophu was a religious man, a man who had not known the beauty and solace of burning his lungs with tobacco tar, the enjoyments of little asphyxiations and minor cardiac arrests, making deep fried broccolis out of his bronchioles. Social distancing, they had learned now, and folks were talking to one another. There’s always a neighbour who brags about his being, exaggerating his own legacy – in his puny head he has outgrown all the legends combined in Marvel comics, and there’s always another neighbour who lets him – in the latter’s head, that’s the furthest he can embark upon someone’s fantasies – that’s his Narnina because he cannot formulate anything from his own imagination – he was put on this earth to clap his hands: the super positive guy the world needs. The solution to the weeds of ignorance is to uproot them at its infancy, yet we rarely find anybody stating: jama chup lak! Aren’t we all nice people? Putting up to bullshits of the gutters that never ease to simply shut up. If not policed around by those self-righteous social media policemen, people won’t mind going live on every event they were engaged upon – to good side and the bad side – good side being able not to smell the poop, bad side, not seeing the actual show when the curtains of reality unveiled – if only everything was posted live, maybe those idols wouldn’t be as loved and as followed as they are – some people don’t even earn millions of money, some people are followed by millions and some millions is simply not a number.

 But today was unusual, an individual from every household had to be tested, the government had said. Covid had taught them that Government too was an entrepreneur, that nothing went as they had planned and promised. People with Economics degrees, do they value the very commotion and motion that an individual makes to deliver? Statistics and data of a business proposal plays no vital role, if the entrepreneur himself is a lazy bump – a sloth from a different parallel universe – why crave for parallel universe, when proposals speak one thing and actions equally opposite with the velocity of the train, whose difference in time you were made to calculate in your high school. Still wondering where to use the ultimate knowledge bestowed upon you, knowledge to solve the difference of ages and Thomas having nineteen oranges but losing few?

 Dophu was standing and there was not much to think about, but to listen to the hoi polloi of the building, where he too was a tenant. There were talks about managing green chillies and how the tenants mingled at night, dozing and boozing, oozing memories they wished to cherish – few lucky ones oozing their white fluids, sprinkling their genes around in latex balloons. Lucky were those, so they thought until they got caught by their spouses.

All his neighbours were elder to him, thus, he being one of the youngest tenants, he kept shut and observed them all. With his own spectrum of judgement, he was at Saint Peter’s gate, he judged who to send to hell or who to be kept alive till he sent them to hell. Mind is a beautiful disgusting fortress, if only everything that was on one’s mind were projected on a silver screen, it would have been nauseating for all.

 Then came the eighteenth tenant and they were all wondering who was absent? It was announced, that they had to be ready for covid test, but at 8:45 am on a chilly January winter day, that they were ignorant about.

 Thus, came the discovery, the Archimedes’ eureka moment: someone as meddling as one could be, pointed out that the missing person was the Lama they had in the building. There are always tenants who won’t know anyone in their building, and there’s always one Columbus, who would know everyone in his or her building – need not necessary be mutual.

Till date, Dophu didn’t know that there was a Lama in the building. He thought a gelong stayed because Lamas had private property – a notion conceived in his head as concrete as society projected and taught him, but it was a Lama they said and they went on stating, how Lama was an aggressive person, especially when someone parked their cars in Lama’s designated parking lot.

 This, to him, was something funny: so much about preaching for Nirvana, and there you are, not willing to let go of a temporary parking lot? Aren’t we all tenants of the building? Aren’t we all tenants in this planet? Allocated parking lot, is more impermanent that the flowers blooming in spring he thought, at least those flowers would bloom for weeks. Parking lot, unlike anything in this world, is the most temporary entitlement, at least in Thimphu it is. He said to himself and smirked.  

 The Dessup lady, who looked tired, had to again climb the staircase for the third time, this time, only to wake up the Lama. It would take them next ten minutes and in total, he had already stood there for the past forty-five minutes. He wondered, how slow they were as a community. How fast things were in India and how slow they are, slow in everything.

 He then looked up towards the building and saw how huge the building was, and how poorly the labourers had constructed it. With a decade gone by, the faltering plaster works spoke more than the tainted tattered paintings. If he knew anything about building, Bhutanese Architecture’s contribution to the world was its extra ordinary paintings – well the world not accepting it as of now, is a different story. Except for the University in El Paso, and few houses built around the world.

 Two flats, Mama had rented, he thought. Mama, whom he had never met, but was someone who painted sign boards, banners and scriptures way back in 2003. Mama, who was an Indian man they said, and had mastered the art of calligraphy. Mama, who went back when the machines for banners and signboards came. Typist too was an occupation, he said to himself, now it is just a skill. So was driving. And the chain of thoughts started, while someone in the crowd shouted, “tsha shi tsha shi” – complete complete – something he tried to understand, why do we have to repeat twice? Yes yes, no no, okay okay. Double assurances we give? A habit we have incorporated, a special breed we are, he thought.

 When they were nineteen as assured to them and as assured the Dessup should be with the number, they all looked at the last person who was walking towards them, the shame of walk which the late comers have to bear and the early ones have to glare. To Dophu’s surprise, it was not Lama, but an Anim (nun). In between hearing about Lama and thinking about Mama, and not seeing Lama, someone in the crowd said: Let’s go, we are already late jama.

 To the peccadilloes of actions, to the words that were preached, it was a normal accepted thing, they didn’t mind who slept with whom, when and where, and whose offspring swam in which balloons of what type of latexes and in which networks of sewerages, toiling to uncertain destinations of no definite where? Nobody murmured or mumbled anything, but it was pretty sure they would take back what they had witnessed and discuss with the other dwellers at their apartments. That’s the cruel world they lived in, they get attracted to the spicy talks – anything is spicy when someone succumbs to their failures of virtues.  

 And then there was an aunty, who had younger kids at her home living with her, while she was the bread earner of her apartment: her kids, older than Dophu, yet staying with this lady. Responsibility is understood differently by different people. To some, it is an act they have to own up to, to some it is an act they are entitled to, privileged to.

 But aunty and her story, shall be another episode, another scene, another tale, another story. And aren’t we all engulfed into stories? Stories that we wish to hear, stories that we wish to tear, stories that instils fear and of course, stories that only bring nothing but tears. As the medical personnel inserted the swab into her nostril, she felt the prickling sensation which took back to the episodes of her memories, when she lost her virginity and thus she giggled the loudest giggle: a wave of laughter that rippled in the crowd.

 ~ Stories from here and there: is an inception of the author’s thoughts, whereby stitching of different life events shall prevail formulating stories, stories that we never hear.

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