The writer’s block.
It’s a big room that reeks of solitude. The door is open just a crack, a suspended beam of sunlight filtering through and making dust motes look like trembling stars. A boy sits by his typewriter, his fingers lusting to stroke the keys. He taps his nervous feet against the linoleum floor, trying to imitate the drum pattern of an old favourite song that he had long since discarded from memory; but which mysteriously reappeared in his conscousness in moments of despair. A dot of light comes to rest on his nose, making him wonder why he cannot absorb its energy. The memory of what he had meant to write eludes him.
The boy flails his right arm in frustration, but the words still hang on to the inside of his sleeve. His gaze runs out the windows and into the vast blue skies, naming the faces he sees in the clouds. He wishes that they would talk back to him.
The street is wide and curves out of sight over a hill. A girl stands on the sidewalk, counting the number of cars that rush by. She listens to the noise of their horns and screeching tires as if it were musical, and lets her eyes follow a certain red Chevy till it can’t possibly continue to. Every once in a while, she focuses her eyes on one of the cars, and loses track of the numbers. Then she starts to count again, from scratch. When the traffic slows, she snaps out of her passive trance, and tries to raise her hand up to signal for a ride. In her mind, someone sees her waving and stops.
The cars keep driving past the girl, seeing nothing. The wind blows her hair over her face, and they are streaked wet with her tears. Her hands are still by her side, for her strings are pulled by something entirely different from her mind. The puppeteer is not her friend.
The old brick house stands in stark contrast to its lush surroundings at the edge of a teak forest. It is the solitary red structure in the otherwise unbroken plane of green. A woman sits inside, her wooden chair rocking in sync with the ticking clock. Her breathing resonates in the silence like the heartbeat of the house. Her hands shake as she muses over the past with her eyes open, memories projected in technicolor onto her cataract-ridden irises. A fly buzzes past her arthritic shoulder and lands lazily on a covered dish of food. The people in her dream never let the food sit long enough for the flies to appear. The people in her dream resemble those in the dust-covered picture frame which rests in her lap.
The woman calls out her sons’ names, and is met by the creak of her chair in response. She sighs and closes her unseeing eyes. The people in her dream come home to her.
The air is bursting with the sobs of a little boy. He stumbles around, a single syllable fumbling on his virgin tongue.Tears flow down his reddened cheeks and streak his white clothing a wet, salty grey. The faces around him weep for his sorrow, but the sounds he makes are the loudest. Many arms reach out to console him but he doesn’t care for their affections, for the warmth that he seeks is amiss. He moves about, heading for the bright yellow blaze a little ahead of him; but the tall legs of strangers who stand in his way appear like prison bars holding him back. The boy slumps onto the dirt ground, his tiny hands falling to his sides. His sleepy eyes close for a second. When they flutter back open again, they resemble a bursting dam giving way to the beginnings of a flood.
A yellowing leaf performs somersaults with the wind and comes to rest on a stack of neatly piled sandalwood. As the toddler’s wail of ‘Maa’ breaks the pregnant silence yet again, the burning corpse wishes it were alive.