In today's fast moving and super competitive world, I have to remind myself this every single day .. Why do we often forget it ? Running behind name and fame and money, Why do we forget that we have a life to live ..?
In the Broadway Musical "Cats", during its spectacular climax, a character by the name of Grizabella sings at the top of her lungs, "Touch me! It's so easy to Leave Me! All alone with the memory of my days in the sun… If you touch me, you will understand what happiness is…."
She is a character that is deliberately ousted during the entirety of the story and this outcast soul finally loses it and begs to be touched. Touch me. See me. Acknowledge my existence.
Why am I referring to her here? Well, because I have realised, I too am like Grizabella. I know too well what it feels like to be on the colder side of a window, watching others huddle closer and hoping for the warmth to rub off on you.
I was born 21 years ago to a couple madly in love. Love, however cannot rival currency and I grew up in a bitter struggle with poverty. My mother held us together with her grit, hope and sheer stubbornness. Born with asthma and growing up here in Gujarat, so far removed from my southern hometown in the hills of Kerala, I learnt firsthand what being different meant.
I was sickly, silent (didn't know the language) and too much of a bother to include. I grew up watching children my age play around while my lungs learnt how to battle, A war that I'm fighting to this day. I still feel short on breath sometimes and it is not always asthma.
Even before I could understand what yearning meant, I realise now, that I was yearning. I was yearning to be included, to be touched and pampered. My mother hardly had time to sit around, to tell me stories and to lavish me with her affection, Love me she did but she was in a tangle of her own. My father was a phantom; the man that made meals happen. The hardworking foundation of our family. By 4, I was already an elder brother to my sister. Becoming an elder sibling, as elders know or will tell you, changes you forever. You become or are made aware of a younger life that is connected to you, by DNA and much more, it latches on to you and learns from your actions in life…
I say this, not to complain but to explain.… as much as I love my parents and sister… I cannot help but feel, I grew up with a pit in my chest, a hungry emptiness that wants to be filled… I don't remember being a child, I guess, like many in this world, I grew up too fast… And when you grow up too fast, you become something half baked, something too weak to not need love but too proud to ask for it.
Growing up, I found out more about how being different has a price. School hallways were a hunting ground and some of us were fleeing preys. We ate lunch alone, we rarely participated unless forced and we tried our best to fade into the background. Avoiding attention, Because attention meant persecution for some of us…. and when puberty came, it brought with it a terrifying discovery; my sexuality. I could only love and not differentiate the packaging it came in.
In all sense of the word, Life was set to be a Crash trajectory for a boy like me.
So what happened?
Well.... what I haven't told you yet is that I was living a parallel life all along. A life so incredibly magical and fantastical that it amzes me in hindsight. At the age of 6, I stumbled into the most ancient of human magic. Wandering into my grandfather's study, I got my hands on a book…. and life was never the same.… I discovered I could fly, speak in mythical tongues, see snowfall sunsets in the Alps, get drenched in the British moors and go to war in Narnia. I discovered I could be beautiful, fall in love, become immortal and play catch with cloud clumps while stars lit up my home in a purple valley with cerulean trees.
I discovered a world where I was still different, but different wasn't unwelcome... The World of Stories.
And once inside, like a greedy adventurer, I kept exploring… books, leaflets, newspapers, songs, theatre, movies, dances, paintings… everything… every single unit of existence that has been summed up as art… is nothing but a story… a story that was born out of the human need to connect... to touch.... to be a little less alone in a frighteningly big world. Bible is an adventure of a lifetime, Ramayana is a love story and the rainbow is nothing but the sky's love letter to earth….
By the time I was 10, I was so drunk on this magic that I decided to create it on my own, I decided to become a closet alchemist: I wrote my first poem. Like many firsts, It sucked.…. but it set something off….
I soon found myself dancing my worries away, singing my loneliness into poof: gone. So what if a bully tore my notebook? Could he ever dance like me? So what if I was picked last again? Could they ever sing the way I did? And when I climbed the theatre stage, dressed in heavy jewels, with a painted face; ready to act as a son who renounced the world for the sake of sainthood, I felt like I could be everything.
6 years later, I was nothing.
The villain in my story turned out to be closer than I thought, after all…. I was him.
The big bang theory suggests the possibility that everything in this universe could've originated from a single point of nothingness. It also suggests the converse too; that everything in this universe will one day culminate into a similar moment of vacuum.. i.e. the end of a universe merely is the step towards the next one. 2666 was written by Bolaño on his dying days, and with the (slightly pretentious) analogy I'd mentioned above, this work represents the end point of His literary universe, the point where everything that he has created will collapse beautifully into a void that will inspire many more universes to come.
To try and summarize this novel is an insult in itself. There are no protagonists or antagonists; only temporary points of view. We have philosophers searching for an elusive writer, a college lecturer slowly turning insane from loneliness, a town being haunted by coldblooded trail of murders, et cetera. 2666 can only be described (by me) as a literary painting, so enormous in its ambition that you could either go near it to observe all the individual worlds painted on every nook and corner or take a few steps back and take your time to see the full picture. It is a giant puzzle piece that is again made up of puzzle pieces in itself.
The novel never explains why it's titled so. The number 2666 appeared in Bolaño's other novel, Amulet (Bolaño is also known for making characters reoccur across different novels, thus reinforcing the concept of a shared universe) and is described as a year when everything is swept and forgotten. Yet it's curious that the eponymous novel never mentions the number, not even once. We'll never know what the writer meant by its title, assuming that there is any meaning at all. It is exquisite in that aspect; it manages to walk the fine line between the words of a visionary and the ramblings of a madman. It is desperate, yet calm; cluttered yet focused. It stays and lingers on a singular point between life and destruction.
Clocking in at around 900 pages, 2666 definitely is not an easy read. There are dialogues that go on for pages, characters that suddenly disappear, storylines that go nowhere. This is NOT the kind of novel that those expecting a coherent story should read. And yet 2666 manages to accomplish something more with its sheer pointlessness, it manages to mimic the mundaneness of life. It desensitized me to descriptions of horrific murders yet managed to make me cry with something as simple as an emotionless file report. Plenty of novels have made me feel nothing, 2666 managed to make me feel literal nothingness, and the novel makes sure that you'll know the difference between the two.
I'm your good morning green hues Singing alliterations, like birds chirping Seeing the Amber sun yawning as The moon bids a sweet wish To get up and cherish some Spicy chilly fireballs of Chilly flakes on the top Of pizza, kneaded by Dough of shimmering words And some long cheesy love, Baked to the warm temperature Of metaphor scented skin The whole night.
Don't bite me hurriedly For I'm a sizzling spice To wake up all your nerves, Sleeping in the tombstone of Dark silent miseries, lemme Blow spiciness to them And make them run to jump Above all the tiny spaces Between those broken verses Of cinnamon dusted pages, To bridge some lost rhymes Sobbing in the island Of foggy sugar coated words.
Darling I won't make Your tummy bubbly By toxic confectionaries Slow poisoning your Face crescent moon To teary tsunami, But I will collect all Teary pearls and then Bead them to smile, By unwinding Each silky fibre from Your cocooned heart To angelic butterfly, Flattering the alluring Olive mustard green wings Over the spiciness of All delicacies, you tasted These ages.
These chillies will keep on Hanging like semicolons If you ever think to Put a full stop in your path.
When life gives you lemon Make spicy tangy lemonade Adding some teared chillies Swirling in the watery melody, Take chilly and chill dear.
The pages won't burn by This spiciness instead It would be a bonfire of poetry Whenever your heart paralyses In the freezing storms.
~~ From earthy green alliterations to Mustard yellow metaphors, The chillies spice up the poetry To rejuvenate the scavenging scars Of life, to taste the hidden sweetness Behind the flaming spiciness ~~