‘How do you write a story? I mean how you come up with all these ideas?’ she asked me. This was something I had never asked myself. I never had to. Not trying to boast, but after writing the first line, the story just oozes out of me. It is the first line which is difficult to imagine. She did not believe me when I told her this. So she offered to suggest the first line of the story. I was more than willing to oblige.
‘It was a cold dark night’ she said. ‘Really? You wish to make it that simple for me? C’mon try again.’ I suggested. She thought for a minute and came back with ‘The house was yellow’- nothing more. I had the first line. Now it was upto me. My story followed like this:
“The house was yellow. Or it must have been yellow at some point in time. Now there is only a hint of bright yellow hues it once may have sported. She had said that it was the most beautiful house on the street. I jokingly said that she must also be the most beautiful girl on that street. She blushed. We had met at a marriage. I roamed around her for three days before she agreed to meet me alone. We talked about ourselves and each another. We laughed at silly jokes and shared our idea of the future. Suddenly we could see a future together. I promised to come to her home soon and ask for her hand in marriage. She said I should not make promises which I may not be able to keep. I could not understand her doubt. Men have a tendency of having very high confidence on their abilities for as long as they live off their parents. She had to leave. She dropped a chit with her address and I picked it up”
‘This is not a very good story. I can already guess the ending. The guy will not be able to marry the girl and will visit her house after 20-30 years in the hope of meeting her. Let me give you another line’ She interrupted. ‘Try me’ I said. She wanted to give a really weird one this time and she did. ‘It just dropped out of sky’. I could not lose face after having made such tall claims. Here was the story I knitted :
“It just dropped out of sky. The question. They were shocked. How can I even think about getting married before I got a job? Men at this age do not think very far in future. I had received a letter from a girl I met in a marriage and who I loved like crazy now. We had been exchanging letters since then. She could not wait any longer. I was to visit her home and ask for her hand in marriage. I had to decide quickly. There was no other way. That night I stole cash from my father’s safe. I had sent her a letter mentioning that she should meet me at the railway station from where we will run away into a world far from here. For opening one’s eyes fully, one must first take a punch on one’s nose. And I took a couple. She was watching from a distance while her goons beat the hell out of me and snatched the cash. All this while, I did not blink even once. I kept looking into her eyes - those deceiving, devious eyes. I wanted to remember those eyes for my life.
My brothers had lodged a complaint against me with police. I spent next two years in jail, never forgetting her eyes for a single moment. It gave me strength to go on.”
‘Okay I am impressed. But for my satisfaction, complete the story with this first line – ‘a thing of beauty is a joy forever’. She was getting adventurous with her lines. To write a standalone story with a single line is one thing, but to join two completely different things and come up with one outcome is another. Well, I could only try!
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Apparently the sentence was only half true as far as I was concerned. No matter how much I tried, I could not recall those beautiful eyes I fell in love with, only the deceitful version of them. After coming out of jail I had nowhere to go to. No future to look forward to. There was only a resolution – revenge. Life took dramatic turns and I took all kind of ways to earn money and I did. It was my chance to take revenge. So here I was looking at the yellow house. The house which was yellow once. I kept waiting till she came out in her balcony. She looked at me. I tried to summon my anger, my reflection of her deceptive, devious and deceitful eyes. Then I turned back and started walking, with a new image, a memory which I had cherished for long ever since I met her. Those beautiful black eyes - a thing of beauty is a joy forever”
My story was finished. She could not speak for a minute - maybe a little too spellbound. She was mesmerised with the narration. While she closed her eyes to think of another line, my hand reached into my pockets and produced a chit with an address. It was time to let go of it.