Throughout the day, through all its distractions, I wait for this hour, the last hour of the day, when I am done with all the mundane chores of living. Then it is my ‘happy hour’, the time of the day I live for. This is when after clearing the dining table, putting away the dishes in the washer, sending everybody to bed, switching off the lights, and checking all the doors and windows, I come and sit in the study room.
Then, at last, I am able to turn on my laptop and start surfing for a story to read.
Every day I read one story. Not always a work of fiction, some days, I am able to do with a real world story. However, most days it is fiction. Its author never matters to me, knowing that what happens in the story did not happen to him or her. I am able to believe that the story must have happened. The author just happened to know it, and so, happened to write it down. I do not give any more importance to the author. I go for the story, and believe that it could happen to me or matter to me in some way. That is important.
In fact, every time I read a couple of stories, or rather, begin to read, but do not pursue if the story does not hold my attention. In the end, I find a story that interests me, and I read till the end. Then I close the laptop. Often times, after switching off the study lamp, I sit in the darkness until the objects around me slowly becoming visible in my intensifying darkness vision, return me to my real world. Then I turn in for the night.
I sleep. Sometimes, I dream. I do not dream of the story, or rarely do, if I do at all. But, once in a while, the story gets me, becoming a part of my life’s story.
The other day, the story was about a man going for fishing with his young son. Remembering childhood fishing trips with his father, he keeps getting mixed up about whether he is himself or his father, and if the young boy is his son or he himself. I felt quite strange after I finished the story. I went and looked at my teenage son asleep in his bedroom. The light from the doorway stirred him. Opening his eyes, he stared at me for some time and then asked, “What now, Dad?”
Another day, the story was about a housemaid. She keeps complaining about her cruel husband who gives her pain and makes her cry. Still, she goes with him to see movies. One day, as both cry at the tragedy on the screen, she realizes that her own sorrow is no different from that of her husband. The following morning, my daughter caught me staring at our help girl, who just at that moment looked to be unhappy. My daughter asked me later in the day, “What were you doing Dad, staring at her like that?” I tried to mumble an answer, but she interrupted me, saying, “Please, don’t do that again!”
Once I read about a man who loses his wedding ring. He goes on an official tour, and meets a woman who starts flirting with him. The day he is returning, he takes off his ring in the bathroom when the woman invites herself to his hotel room. He forgets about it for several days. Then, scared, he runs to the jeweler, but they do not have the ring anymore. He thinks of injuring his finger, going to Emergency to get it dressed up, and then telling his wife, he had had an accident and they might have removed his ring at the Emergency. Disturbed and absent-minded with all these thoughts, he gets his ring finger caught between the swing doors, which crush it. After I finished this story, I could not remember where I had put away my ring. It has been years since I took it off, because of my thickening finger. That night I went to bed and stared at my wife, sleeping crumpled into the fetal position. I woke her up to ask if she knew about my ring. Opening her eyes, she asked, “So, what is the story this time?” I dared not look at her face. A few days later, I saw an article with the caption, “Sleeping in the Fetal Position Could Make You Less Confident”. Is it that she no more has faith in me?
I can see that all of them at home think or feel there is something in my life that they do not know of. This may be true, because every night unknown to them as they sleep, story by story I add something to my life. Like a raindrop falling to a pool, each story enters my life. There is just that minute splash, and a wave that spreads out until that drop assimilates in my life’s pool.
Everyday my life becomes one story richer. It is a wealth, which I cannot share with the others.
Indroneer / 15 March 2014