A Crumpled Piece of Paper: Of Untold Stories


Abodes en route Patnitop to Pahalgam
What’s yearning to a visitor is conventional to a regular

The milk sat on the blazing stove as graciously as it surged into its holder. Dignified was the word, given the relentless burn underneath did nothing to deter the liquid cringe from its original form or volume. Occasionally, it shook its head marginally in response to the momentary sway of a breeze. Else, all was well. The burner continued to beam angrily to test the milk’s threshold. As if, the former wanted to tease the latter for its patience, lest the fluid was on the verge of a breakdown. The milk would have given in ultimately; it wasn’t willing to let go of the morality it possessed. However little that was. If not for one’s razor-sharp observation, that slight creasing could have been missed. When the milk was warming to boil, layers marshalled its surface. It was convenient to mistake this second’s worth of resistance from the milk for its weakness. If only one knew, the liquid was satirising the maker of the fun!

Laughter they say is an effective way to keep one’s heart and age conned into feeling young. As a therapy, it isn’t difficult to adhere to its act. You fold the easiest of those side curves where the cheekbones call it a closure and release a reverberating expression. As simple. Minus this resounding expression is a smile. Which is helpful too, for the wrinkled

En route Pahalgam to
Flow alongshore my currents, for when I feel that electric static, I know it’s your bewitching

curves are nothing short of a sign of invitation. A concurrence to proceed in the quest to an achievement. Similar to that peal of laughter, a smile bright enough to light up a room, comprises of deep folds on the sides at the lower end of those cheekbones. Moreover, they are genuine. Just like the furrowed stretch marks privileged to a lady after delivering a newborn. The highlight of any smile, however, is the layered crinkles at the edge of the eyes; a sign of its wholeheartedness. A smile could be the beginning of a conscious attempt eventually shepherding into a religious routine. After all, this therapy of folded curves could be an aftermath of shrunk lungs, curtseyed by many coffin nails.

A pug comes with layered folds. So does a Chinese shar-pei. But then, that’s how they are meant to be, for their beauty lies in their creases. Drawing their baths can result in shrivelled skin, owing to a prolonged immersion of the hands in water. In the process,

River Jhelum nestled amidst layers
Your bends, as curvaceous as the tides on a Full Moon, enrapture me

ignorant are those stories that lie beneath a burnt or wilted patch of skin, and the howl following a puckered pinch. Whatever said and done, the skin can take what it can up to an extent. Age in many stances is a number; nonetheless, it equally is a cheeky jerk. For, no sooner the crinkled and greasy milk fat materialises on top, than the skin reciprocates to its owner. In similar thresholds as it is treated to in the first place.

Wrinkles. Of the cutesy little fetishes. Of the umpteen defining moments. Wrinkles. Of those multifold layers. Of journeying through the craft of storytelling. Wrinkles. Of the elegant process of ageing. Of oodles of barter in a lifetime. Wrinkles. Of the miles-worth of tucked in wisdom. Of the priceless journey of one’s experiences.

Wrinkles. Of the facial creases and folds that hold untold stories. Just like a crumpled piece of paper.

Photographs: Jammu – Srinagar Highway, National Highway 1A

Sometimes it’s Okay to be the Ugly Duckling

Feedback and constructive criticism are privileged entities conferred to a mere handful today. With population explosion pyramiding under countless confederation counties, it is an effortless attempt to stumble across another fellow specie with a talent. A jump later, lies a writer in the making, scuffling to make a difference to the world. A hop later, lies a struggling singer biding their time with small-time public performances. And a skip later, lies a potential business tycoon of the share market, probably operating as a broker today. Talent isn’t an adversity these days; nope. Though, what matters is the layers of scraping and scrubbing that goes into its polishing. Anyone can shine silver. Those remote corners where even the fingertips can’t thrust out is where the heart of the affair lies. After all, the satiny metal is technically unpolished still in its entirety, if not for its contorted curves and distorted bends. Until then, it is okay to be the ugly duckling. In an entailing need to make a difference, unless the journey is entertaining enough, the consequent results aren’t worth it – favourable or otherwise.

Writing happened to me by sheer accident three years back. I was thoroughly surprised at this ability, for I had never been exposed to any creative side in my growing years. Or, my awareness quotient had taken a hard hit! Somehow, the notion of zero creativity always occupied a heavy headspace, leaving me with reasons to incline towards being logical – personally as well as professionally. I had plans to dive into the financial market. However, when writing happened, it was only natural for me to get exploratory. What commenced with stringing a bunch of words together, eventually turned into a pursuit of presenting a concise essence of thoughts. Thoughts I wished conveying. Thoughts that made a difference. Although, this struggle of bringing onto counter the thought process and converting them into equalised terminologies of expressions can sometimes prove to be a pain in the ass. The right words may just not materialise. Or, thoughts may freeze in time. Sometimes, analogies and metaphors may fail to mark their attendance. While at others, the picture itself could be a haze of hempen smoke. Regardless, this is the part of the process I look most forward to. The process of the crafting the craft. And then of course, reaching it to potential readers!

Until then, it is okay to be an ugly duckling. Almost like that desired duty to fit amidst the ostentatious crowd.

It is with gratified pleasure I observe how words can spin a million dollar worth of magic to cent-worth of thoughts. In fact, someone who is family, once told me – I never thought you could write. There. That was my moment. One of the many firsts.

Many pre-eminent biggies have poured in their blood, sweat and tears – figuratively and literally – to get to where they are. The dosage of their persistence coupled with the quota of their hard work and patience can be an understatement to even begin imagining the toil they must have experienced in their journeys. Not everyone’s journey to reach the stance of where they are today was a bed of roses. It took a Grim Reaper for The Greatest, Muhamma-AliMuhammad Ali, to trend on social media. However, his time on earth exposed him to one-of-a-kind hardships to make it to the legendary statuses and titles with which he passed away. Dhanush, one of the most successful actors of the Kollywood movie industry today, was once ridiculed of skin colour and acting skills. Dr. KJ Yesudas, born to a set of Christian parents, invited innumerable sets of raised eyes, faces and fingers for having learnt the very music that was defined as a “religious affair connected to the temples”.

Here is a crystal clear bunch of ugly ducklings. Who went on about their businesses anyway.

Struggles and hardships are no less than that aluminium foil wrapped around food for ready consumption. It may not do much however, it does help keep the consumable morsel warm and tasty. The reason for overcoming struggles is wholesomely dependent on one’s choice. It could be to revive their self-worth or a means for a vengeful hurtle. Struggles could prove mankind wrong of their perceived capabilities. The strength to survive them is a sign of fighting against those societal beliefs and sticking with one’s moral fibre. Struggles could be any. Struggles could be many. A struggle could be to bag a script, despite the ability to act onscreen. Or, it could be to work on physique and screen appearances, despite being considered a class apart actor. These kahunas, while are at the pinnacle of their stardom, were once ridiculed by the very mankind that holds them in high regards today. Only to welcome them with hefty festoons.

There is a cube of the puzzle that will always need resolving. Or staying oblivious to. Lest its absence results in an imbalanced lifestyle for the universe. A chunk of the human race is meant to be judgemental. A fragment of mankind is meant to thrive not on one’s success, but in that glorified ability of tugging down the pants of those stragglers halfway up the ladder. A slice of societal community transparently enjoys being that snake at 99 in the game of Snakes and Ladders.

I know of people who have left their secured jobs to pursue their area(s) of interest, full-time. The aim here is to not only explore what those fields in their full fledge can offer, but also to bag some time out from the mundane chores largely driven by a corporate setup. Setting aside the obligatory factor of a stable financial backup, such jump-in-the-lake-or-die-trying decisions definitely attract supporters on one hand, and commentators on the other. Of losing the stance of that self-earning financial independence. Of potentially transforming into a homemaker from a working class, thereby degrading their ‘communal status’. Or, of holding the liberty to design their own days and weeks ahead, as against running with that drilled hook into the hole clasping onto a fixed routine.

The plan is to hold high and walk on. It must be. Until then, it’s okay being that ugly duckling.