Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Stories have to be told or they die..

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” 

― Philip Pullman

I could not agree with anything more. It has been a good number of years since I was told stories. It has been a good number of years since somebody heeded my stories. I no longer even remembered I could reciprocate stories. Constant change of places, dear friends leaving for unknown destinations, long distances and myriad pulls of everyday existence- each day my stories died a little and then came a time I could tell no more and heard no more. Sometimes the feeling of being bottled up would get the better of me and then either these blog posts or marathon phone calls would follow. Yet all these years, what remained was my unwavering love for stories- stories of people's lives and children and parents and places and events and memories and food and of things no more.

And paradoxically enough, in all these years, me and A and more of our family shared millions of long and short stories, which now seem like the vital common knowledge we just 'needed' to possess for the life ahead of us. Yet, it was clearly not enough. To me somehow, the stories we share each day with the ones who know us too well are rather prescient and do not quite fascinate and captivate in the same measure as they would a relative stranger.

How I wish dear (Ma'm) SA was still around and we could spend hours sharing stories and sipping tea, oblivious of the time and space around us. This post would have been meaningless if I failed to mention her and AA (Sir) who gave me my voice and taught me to derive strength from other people's stories. I owe it to them and have never missed them so much before.

A public servant's job essentially involves giving a patient listening to people's stories', deriving quick conclusions about the veracity of their tales and then striving to ensure a happy ending to the incomplete story they present before us. Not all stories however end on a cheery note, whether real or imaginary. This job (or may be life in general) makes us understand the power of belief in our stories. If we begin to believe in the truth of our stories, they start appearing true to us. Today when somebody tells me the same, I smile inwardly, for I could not have acquiesced to anything more. 

Of the millions of stories spun around us at all times, only a few have the power of nourishing our soul. There's a secret bond which unites the storyteller and the listener, the kind which unites a writer and his readers. And there's a certain measure of trust which seals this bond. It may be precisely this reason why the stories we share with complete attachment or detachment fail to qualify for the kind which nourish the soul. May be a degree of both is required.

This voluminous realization swept over me mysteriously one day, (I do not quite even remember the day or the occasion) and it felt as if the floodgates had been opened. My stories began to resurface with amazing alacrity. To me now, storytelling seems like an ancient and spiritual science- its like being able to transcend a higher plane from being struck in a vortex of competing realities, only to realize not only you were struck but also that the vortex was rather small. In the words of Graham Greene, "A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead." It is precisely this lack of definitive mooring that story-telling acquires sacred proportions to my unenlightened mind.

Just as the stories start flowing once again, I hope to ensure that the flow doesn't ebb. I hope to understand the meaning of these stories and also of those which remain unsaid.  And recently, as I found myself losing breath and sleep being struck in the middle of a huge, interesting story, which was rather difficult to interpret, I felt these lines speaking to me, and serenity wash over me again..

Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end,
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

Song of Myself (1892 version)
By Walt Whitman


  1. Replies
    1. There's gonna be a deluge soon.. :)
      Meanwhile, "dear friends leaving for unknown destinations" strikes a bell anyone??