“On really romantic evenings with myself, I go salsa dancing with confusion.”
~ Waking Reality
I have a confession to make. Behind your back, I’ve been allowing myself to be romanced by the very charming Mr. Italo Calvino and the more I succumb to his charms, the more I realise how you live your life like a piece of literature. Swooning in the throes of your highs, few and very far in between; then collapsing into the dark depths of your own construction. If your life was to read like a book, it would be an impassioned portrayal of a boy’s compulsive courtship with tragedy and simultaneous affair with the almost noble quest for balance.
I look at my life, and it is less extraordinary, its peaks and troughs have been smoothened out by what I believe is a valiantly guarded calm. I have learnt to seek, and find my happiness in the details, winning each battle as it comes and leaving the larger tragedies to sort themselves out, believing they will, if only I give them a chance. But swimming in this uncertain calm, I know my life will never be narrated in extreme emotions, there will be no romance, for it is pain that makes a beautiful tale. Sometimes thinking of your tremulous living, I turn a torrid green, for the grass always seems greener on the proverbial Other Side.
As I rummaged through Calvino’s Difficult Loves, his language sometimes hung too heavy for my taste, but I ploughed along and was always rewarded for my determination.
“He put the token in the slot, dialed the number, listened with beating heart to the distant ring, heard Cinzia's "Hello...” still suffused with sleep and soft warmth, and he was already in the tension of their days together, in a desperate battle against the hours; and he realized he would never manage to tell her anything of the significance of that night, which he now sensed was fading, like every perfect night of love, at the cruel expansion of day."
~ Pg. 65, The adventure of a traveler
The other day, I picked up another collection of stories. Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, if you please, by the unsettling Mr. Richard Yates. It reminded me of that summer afternoon we spent watching Revolutionary Road, the story of the hopeless breakdown of an almost-perfect couple in post-depression America. I had been unable to concentrate on the movie, with your toes wiggling up my salwar shyly, you being 'forward' in that abashed way you have; I find it quite adorable. Watching the climax where she forcefully aborts her baby was gut wrenching and I felt a strange quiver too, as if my uterus was shuddering in her pain.
I have, of late,
acquainted myself with introduced myself to a
favourite of yours. The talented Mr. Chekhov. It seems fitting that in these
lonely days, your favourite short story writer promises me company. I picked up Love and Other Stories and no matter what reviews and literature critics
say, I found it a dull read. There were highs and lows, but I couldn't connect. Perhaps love has bruised me
into nonchalance. What a frightful thing if that were true!
It amuses me that sitting here, in a rather forgotten part of Rajasthan, I romance the contemporary greats; American, Russian and Italian. I converse with them and peek into their tales, dipping my beak in an era I fancy, taking away straws from their boughs to build my own little nest. If there was anything to ever plead a case for Solitude, it would have to be the Act of Reading. I find in it company and joy, passion and challenge. How often have I spirited away my loneliness with the written word! I should get back now, for bedtime beckons. And you know I can’t sleep without some well written words crowding my mind space.