And, when you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
“This is one of the greatest lies that have ever been told in the name of the universe and we are supposed to make a short film based on it. How on earth? It is just not possible to make a film unless you believe in the subject and have experienced it.”
“The greatest direction is the power of imagination and for that you just need to have an open mind,” Shekhar retorted.
It was post screenplay writing session that we had emerged out of feeling totally helpless. There had been so many occasions when we had made fun of the Vikram Bhatt genre of horror movies having an equal proportion of sex, sleaze and noise. But over the seemingly long and torturous two hours, suddenly the amount of respect we had for the Ramsay brand of movies had invariably increased with the realization as to how difficult it was to write a genuinely good horror script. At the end of the session, the class had been asked to make a short film on the above line and I was perplexed.
“We are supposed to be the next Salim-Javed. With this level of motivation, I might have to go solo. Making a short film requires imagination and motivation and your level of enthusiasm does not raise my spirits,” Shekhar said.
It had only been a week at the Pune Film Institute and I was already longing for the life I had left behind in Mumbai. Life besides Powai lake at the IIT campus was good and had seemed full of possibilities. Good friends, booze and free internet meant that I was having one of the best times of my life. But there had always been emptiness, the sort of it which seems to fill up the lives of content men. I was told that kings and ancient rulers who had won over many a conquest suffered from this rare sense of emptiness in life.
“Dude, I have been here one week and I have not been able to write down a single good idea. I am getting frustrated now”
“So what? Writing is a journey and not the destination. When you are enjoying the journey, why care as to where you are going,” Shekhar said, obviously flustered at my sense of urgency.
“But without an idea, how are we supposed to get a move on?” The competitive engineer in me still refused to give up the urgency even in the heart of one of the most languid and calm places in the country. I guess the Indian formal education system if followed religiously does give us this side-effect.
“I give up. I don’t think you even wanted to be a writer in the first place. It is high time IIT guys stopped getting inspired from Chetan Bhagat.”
Shekhar had touched a nerve. I dismissed him and walked towards the gate. I wanted to get away from this slow life where no one was proactive to get things done. Maybe that was the way of life here in the creative world. If so, I definitely did not belong here. Then, I felt I did not even belong in my previous world. IIT Bombay, my dream since childhood and yet that emptiness on having achieved the dream and still not finding the satisfaction.
I had always liked writing. But there was something I was missing. I knew remotely. Roma had gone away for higher studies today and I would never be able to meet her. Not unless she decided to come back to India after her studies and miraculously was still single. I had this burning desire to stop her but I knew I would not be able to do so. Maybe that was the reason of my restlessness and urgency today. If it would not have been her, who knows I might never have crossed the gate.
As I stepped outside the campus, my mind travelled back in thoughts over what had happened a few days back.
“……Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.”
I had just finished reciting Housman when the entire crowd broke into a loud applause. It was our annual poetry reciting event at the IIT campus and several students and professors from nearby colleges had come over. My wing mates did use to poke fun at my participating in these events but then I simply loved them. Hearing and reciting some great pieces of work did cleanse my soul for some brief moments. I was discussing about the great Raghupati Singh Sahay or popularly known as Firaaq with one of the Hindi professors who had come over to recite Dr. Harivanshrai Bachchan’s poems when suddenly I heard these lines.
“नर्म फ़िज़ा की करवात्ते दिल को दुखा के रह गयी
नर्म फ़िज़ा की करवात्ते दिल को दुखा के रह गयी
ठंडी हवाई भी तेरी याद दिला के रह गयी
शाम भी थी धुआ धुआ हुस्न भी था उदास उदास
दिल को कई कहाँिया याद सी आकर रह गयी”
“Hey that’s the line which Farhan Akhtar said in Zindagi Na…. ,” shouted a perky voice from the background and heads turned. The reciter glared at the interruption while other let out a huge roar of laughter.
She looked slightly embarrassed. A touch disappointed on realizing that the amazing fact that she knew held no significance in this group of elite thinkers. There was something in her voice, the simplicity in which she had exclaimed. I straightened my glasses and looked at her closely. She had a cute face with her hair tied behind. I thought she would look much better with her hair untied but with my own poor style and fashion credentials, I dare not point that out. But everything apart from that tiny mishap was perfect. Her red sleeveless salwar kameez with white dupatta, a small bindi on her forehead and her sharp and beautiful eyes.
I rarely had the courage to go over and talk to girls. All through school and college, I had spent time strategizing and rehearsing my move on seeing a girl whom I wished to talk to, only to waste crucial hours and end up just sighing away with another one of the countless fleeting regrets. This time, however I felt different. Something about her made me feel comfortable. I walked up to her, pulled a chair and quoted the lines of Lord Byran.
“One ray the more, one ray the less
Hath half impaired the nameless grace.”
She looked up, looking slightly puzzled and then got up and left towards another corner of the room.
This was cruel. Outright cruel. I had expected applause and certain acts of coyness. Even an innocent laugh or a know-it-all smirk would have done. But this act of disrespect was a tad too much. I decided to leave as soon as possible after that humiliation.
Just as I was about to leave the hall disappointed after a round of humiliation from the hands of a girl, a voice a sweet as ever, reached my ears.
“I really liked the rhyme but couldn’t get the meaning. Could you tell me the name of the poet?”
“George Gordon Noel or commonly known as Lord Byron,” I replied still gazing at her.
“So why did you walk away if you liked the lines,” I asked puzzled.
“I was feeling too embarrassed in front of this elite crowd. I could not understand half the lines in the poems recited and the ones which I understood, everybody started laughing. When you said those lines, I panicked and moved away.”
I must say this was one of the most honest confessions I had heard in a long time. More than half the people including me hardly understood the heavy lines of Whiteman, Frost and Wordsworth but no one hardly acknowledged it.
“Can you explain the meaning of your lines?”
“It means if you had been a shade different, your beauty would have been reduced to half,” I couldn’t help smiling slyly as I said those lines. Openly flirting with a girl was never my cup of tea even with Lord Byron covering it up for me.
“Shade different…. Ah… thanks for the compliment.” Now it was her turn to go red.
“I know quite a few more of those compliments. But they go well only with a cup of coffee.”
“I think two cups would be more apt in this context,” she straightened her hair as both of us started walking together towards the exit.
“So why are you doing this?”
“Roma, I think we have been over this a couple of times now. Don’t you get it? IIT has been my dream,” I replied.
It had been a couple of weeks since our first meeting and we had had numerous coffee dates since then.
“Dreams evolve. So what if IIT had been your dream, you can still have another,” she looked even more beautiful as she said those lines.
“I can’t afford so many dreams. People spend their entire lives trying to fulfil just one of their cherished ambitions and you are asking me to throw away something which I have desired for so long.”
“What are you afraid of? There is just one life, my friend.” Her gaze was firmly fixated on me. I could not look away.
“Probably that is what I am afraid of so much, that there is just one life. Also the fact that you are going away isn’t exactly giving increasing my confidence.” I said the last line in my head.
Over the past few weeks, I had recited over a 100 of my favourite poems to her, discussed the scripts of one of my favourite movies and talked about some of the best books that I had read. I had told her about the various ideas that I had in my mind and the stories that were spinning around those ideas. And it was during these exchanges that I had realized how much I loved reading and writing. But was it an illusion? Was it because I loved Roma which was making me love everything that was common between us, love for creativity certainly one of them.
She however continued to motivate me.
“My parent forced me into engineering when I always wanted to enter the world of fashion. Now that my engineering is over, I am going to do masters in fashion studies from Parsons. See, it is never too late to follow one’s dreams.”
“Don’t go, don’t go… if you are there, I can also chase my dream…..” This went on and on in my head as she tried teaching me about life, universe and the very reason for our existence.
“Go for it, even if you are not sure. What is life without a couple of failures to laugh over when you are old,” she got up as she spoke these lines with a tone of finality.
Why did we meet? Just so that my heart could get broken and I would end up pining for her for the next couple of days or was there a bigger reason?
“Shekhar,” I called out loudly as he had increased his pace and was a considerable distance ahead of me.
He turned around, clearly still angry over my lack of motivation.
“I think I might just have the script for our short film,” I said, smiling.
“What use is conspiracy if it cannot fool us into believing something?”