Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home

 

A Sad Writer

Once up on The Times (for he liked to feel the coarse skin of newspaper against his shorts-bearing thighs), there was a writer who was very, very sad. He had many reasons for being sad, or at least he thought he did, sometimes, because occasionally, he would come across Michael Jackson singing Heal The World or We Are The World and as is inherent in all living humans, African children make us feel guilty and he would think his reasons for sadness weren't sufficient for suffering. But realising he was down without a cause depressed him further, and with his rounded backside on the face of important political leaders of our time, he would write.

But his lifestyle provoked some questions: what were his reasons? Why would he write? And what would he write about?

Later on, when he would come across a fan or two, or people knowledgeable about his work, they would say, “You're not how I had imagined you to be. I thought you'd be all emo.” Hah, emo! Such a dagger for his weakening heart! They do not know of his reasons, how could they? Subtle metaphors and extended wordplay help to shroud the actuality of his story in haze. Who could guess that “a Mickey Mouse blimp hovering endlessly in the streets of El Dorado” was an allegory for how hearts sometimes flee to foreign lands, or that “My soul was fly, like a G6” meant that the growing commercial nature of the world was taking over his material needs? Or even that “My mobile phone's vibration was playing kabaddi in my pants” was an indirect reference to how his parents were not giving him the freedom to attend nightclubs in shady parts of Dhaka? He was a writer for goodness' sake, he couldn't just say what he meant!

When he was seven, his teachers' praises knew no bounds during art class, and when he was ten, his mum would say what a sweet voice he had. His ego blew up like a new MMS scandal, and with so much sorrow in his pretty little life, he went full on into these two mediums. But like all failing geniuses, he had been blinded. As he one day looked back at his past drawings of stick figures and typical sceneries with bushes and palm trees and suns out of Luna colour pencils, he realised his teachers were bound to praise him; he had been seven, after all. And his mother? That was the worst of all. Confident in his ability as the next troubadour to grace the charts after Barbra Streisand, he went busking in the streets of Dhaka, even going as far as uploading his videos on YouTube and Facebook. But after repeated death threats from viral abusers (mostly in the form of being the son of different animals and other promiscuous acts) and once being driven out of New Market by hawkers who kept throwing their spare sandals at him, he realised this wasn't meant for him.

Feeling like Harry Potter after Hermione started dating Ron, except without a below par ginger sister, he went out into the world in search of a medium. How he considered writing was a miracle, to say the least. Once up on a different issue of The Times, he was trying to read up on Nicolas Sparks and Dan Brown and other stuff found in chick literature to impress a girl, he encountered a revelation: he could do this. One line in particular from The Da Vinci Code stuck out:

“Overhanging her precarious body was a jaundiced face whose skin resembled a sheet of parchment paper punctured by two emotionless eyes.”

Precarious body? A jaundiced face? This sentence didn't make sense! And here he was, a bestselling novelist, 'respected' among his peers, with two of his novels turned into movies starring Tom Hanks and being directed by the father of the love of his life, Ron Howard. If it was this easy, surely he could write something a little smarter.

Armed with a steely resolve, much like the precarious body in the novel, he set out to write his first ever story (after having had his heart broken by the girl he was trying to impress, who, it seemed, had been wooed by a guy who had also finished all five of Meyer's books). But oh, what was this? It proved harder than his new mentor had made it look. He stared at the blank Microsoft Word page for hours without any result.

And then, suddenly: hope.

A blinking orange light at the bottom of his screen; someone had knocked him. Yet another girl who wanted to talk about her failed relationship with a platonic friend as he tried to give indirect, but unsuccessful, hints that would get him some action.

“Wt shud I do nw????” she asked.

“Maybe what you should do is staring at you right in the face, like an owl which was lost in the zoo and then came flying all the way over the oceans to hover in front of you and stare back.”

Voilà! All he had to do was write what he didn't mean and overdescribe every little thing and use hyperboles to exaggerate feelings every single line of the page. Constantly sensationalise! How hard could that be? He opened his Word screen again.

“Jack Delfino was a scared man. He had been born scared, like in the womb of a wolf in the wild, when his father had looked at him with his precarious eyes and jaundiced face and said, 'Son, you're gonna do stuff that's downright scary and it's gonna scare you to death.' He doesn't know how he remembers being born, but that fact remains relevant in order to further nail in this story, like the way undertakers nail in coffins. He looked left and then he looked right. And then he looked forward. And lastly, he looked back. And he was scared.

Barney was a purple dinosaur.”
And thus, a sad writer was born.

By S. N. Rasul


To catch an eye

He picked up his brown leather bag, ready to hurl it into the train's luggage compartment. Outside, something, no, someone caught his eye. He ran down the aisle between the steel stairs hoping to catch another glimpse of her. He was quite oblivious to the ways of this new country, having lived all his life abroad and therefore was curious, yet stumped by what he saw. He was confused as to what had happened to her, because something must have happened. Perhaps that was what had fascinated him so much; enough to make him disregard the chance of missing the train if he took too long. He stared at her. Her face, he could tell, was once a very beautiful, if not a much groomed one. But neither the outline nor the details remained intact. It was burnt, disfigured. What had happened to it was beyond his comprehension. She was in an old worn out kameez, her hair covered by a torn orna. She sat in a corner of the dirty pavement with a basket filled with trinkets that no one wanted to buy. He went to her and pretended to look at the colourful glass bangles, the whole time staring at her. After a while, she spoke, in a harsh voice that aimed to mask the pain inside, “Kotokhon amar muker dike takai thakte chan?” He shrank back, embarrassed and tried to mumble out vague apologies. “Acid marse arki, dekhar ki asey?” He didn't seem to understand.

She sat down at the same spot she did every other day, with the meaningless pieces of jewellery she would never sell. It was a hot, humid day and she couldn't wait for it to be over. She had gotten accustomed to the stares and awkward glances by then. She was poison to their eyes, she knew and there was nothing she could do about it.

She had seen him on the train and knew, when he ran out, that he had noticed her. That he wanted to get another look at her to revel in disgust. That's why when he came near, it didn't surprise her. She knew that a man like him wouldn't normally be interested in cheap trinkets. She tried being as harsh as she could at his stare. He didn't have evil intentions she knew, for he was caught unawares at her snap. He just didn't know.

By Neshmeen
Painting by Lara Merrett


 

home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2011 The Daily Star