Saturday, July 12, 2008

Staccato love

I'd planned to write a post called 'Yesterday' in this space. I promise to get around to it soon.

For now, here's a short film called Staccato Love. It's based on an incident that happened in Calcutta.

The boy loved her, and what's not to love? She's classical in her sensibilities and rasta in style. She cooks like a chef's daughter (in that she doesn't) and wears outlandishly bookish glasses. She's painted a tattoo onto the small of her back, so she can scrub it off the day she's outgrown it. She can't see a thing through those glasses she wears. And she can sing. [Scrap that. She likes to sing, but can't].
She didn't need to be beautiful, not for him, nor for the film, but if you've already seen her in your head, you can decide for yourself.

The boy - he wore this and he looked like that. He spoke soft somethings in a gravelly voice, and could whip out a kurta-jhola ensemble from his gym-bag anytime the going got smart. He liked to read and ride, knew monet from manet, impressionism from post, but in some ways, he was a mushroom. There was a lot of surface and not as much beneath.

He loved her sharply though. He'd probably seen all the right movies about love. His idea of love was conservative, its expression liberal. They'd met first at a library or maybe at a lounge. She looked hard at him where he sat, and he grew immediately uncomfortable. His breathing turned clunky when she walked over and stood in front of him, hands on her hips. She then simply raised an eyebrow at him. It stripped him naked. He'd had on his 'thinker' look, eyes vacant, hoping he looked smarter than he was. She of course felt sorry for him, which is why she walked over.

And even as she walked his way, he was hoping she'd be unsmart, or at least taken, so he wouldn't have to worry about keeping from falling in love. Something about long-distance pheromones that'd already begun their magic. But then she spoke, and the voice was perfect, the tone, the notes, the lilt, the cadence. As though in an instant he was back in his mother's womb, and all the right sounds made their way into his subconscious. [I'm hoping this Freudian angle on love is legit]

The love grew wildly. [I can't graph it]. It hit him from nowhere and swept him away, but for her, there was a logic to her love. It's the sum of a hundred different components, like a jigsaw puzzle.

The elements that constitute love trooped in on cue. For her, these were (chronologically) that base maternal need to right a man, that the man in question was the moldable sort, that he loved her unabashedly, how old-fashioned he could be, and that he validated her eccentricities by being the properer of the two. I suspect this is as deep as one needs to get to engender love. If not, throw in a love for the same style of theatre, and perhaps a divine connection in the stars as well.

I think Love is a binary condition. There's no in-between state. Atleast that's how all of my romantic movies are going to be. Digital. No, I make bad joke. My vision of love is that when it's there, it's end-of-the-earth absolute.

And that's how it was here. So when he didn't pick up his phone today, Tuesday, she was concerned. She turned worried when she tried him 10 minutes later with the same result. She realised then why this script introduced her in the present and him in the past tense.

An older voice answered on the tenth try. 'Yes, hi...This phone's been lying here for some time now. I didn't know what to do when I heard it ring all those times.'
'That's right, there has been an accident here. By the tracks. The area's been cordoned off.'
'This is the Sealdah station.'

It took her a half-hour to get there. Barefoot, and indecently dressed for the time of night. She wanted to see the body, but nobody'd let her. It was neither procedure nor a pretty sight. She pleaded with the police and then followed them to the autopsy centre. She'd heard whispers of 'suicide' back on the platform.

She sits stoic through the night. I'm not sure how she doesn't break down and into little pieces. I think she's in shock, but that's taking away from her. Maybe she's breaking down and into little pieces the love that's been taken away from her.

I let a week pass. Her folks keep a judicious eye on her, dusting off the kid-gloves. But one never knows what to do at a time like this. If only she'd speak, vent, rant, rave, .. cry. She spends an afternoon getting her hair straightened. The next day, she's laughing with the neighbour's little boy, and the day after that, she's feeding her grandpa at the hospital.

She's hung herself from the fan today. She knows better than to look forward to a reunion with him. She knows her parents will be inconsolable. She knows she needed to be there to look after them. She knows she isn't solving anything, that she's only being selfish. Then why?

Blame it on that absolute, end-of-the-earth love.

The film finishes here, leaving close to no questions unanswered. In the film format, I'd stretch out the staccato part of their love more. It's an ideal picture I have of the emotion. Like a tap dance sawaal-jawaab. When two people share quick exchanges that are witty, spontaneous, exciting. Like a little switch flipping on and off rapidly. On-off-on-off-on-off. Binary.


Anonymous said...

wah indy wah! teri kahani mein romance hai, drama hai, tragedy hai..woh kya kehte hain..haan thoda pyaar thoda apart, great post..lovely hai ji..and i now have more stuff to read at work..keep writing! manish

indra said...

Ah the first kind words about this post :) man, i've been getting a fair bit of flak for this one

"pyar-vyar, eh? shaadi karni hai?"

"see, the style is nice, but that story.."


*my own commentary*
And i have to admit, when i re-read the dang thing, I realise that when i wrote it, the only thing staccato about it was the writing style (and that too, only barely), not any of what unfolds.

Plus, and i might be over-analyzing here, i think i tried too hard, and that shows. The language got fancy at points, and the story just that much more trite.

Ok, tomorrow's another day.