I wish everyone loved reading novels in our country. We are a vast country but I feel this one aspect of entertainment hasn’t touched many hearts as yet. We are the largest producer of films in the world. We are a country where one sport is followed like a religion. We are so passionate about entertainment; imagine if novels attract the same kind of craze among audience, considering that it has all the ingredients that an average Indian demands. In the last few year the industry has certainly improved but still the potential is huge.
Now, let me reveal the secret behind my wish. Like many bloggers, even I have a wish to get my book published one day. But, unlike many, who started blogging first, I wrote a 80k words novel first and then entered the world of blogging. My novel is at the stage of editing at present, after that the toughest job of approaching the publishers will start.
While I was writing the story, often a question came to my mind, “Will people read it, more than that will they like it?” Then I read a quote by Kurt Vonnegut, “Write to please just one person.” This quote kept on motivating me. I started my blog to gauge if my style of storytelling is liked by people. Many appreciations and a contest win certainly heightened the enthusiasm.
Well! I am posting here the prologue of my Novel. The novel is a love story, part of it is inspired by true incidents in my life. Was there any better way to reveal a part of my novel where the idea came from a prompt of the great Preeti Shenoy?
At an unearthly hour of 3am, I opened the main door of my flat and came out, nervous and scared. The darkness outside echoed the void inside me. I looked at the opposite door, for a moment I vaguely thought that the door would open and she would come rushing towards me. But no, the excruciating silence of the darkness was only being broken intermittently by the howling of stray dogs at a distance.
I rearranged the laptop backpack hanging from my right shoulder and locked the door. To avoid the untimely rattling of the lift that could have disturbed the silence, I took the stairs. At that moment, walking down four floors demanded adroit coordination of my senses; but my tired eyes staring at the abysmal darkness, the shaking hands holding the balustrade and the weak legs in continuous search for the steps were disarrayed to offer any support. However, I had picked up one habit, the habit of counting steps, like all other hostel inmates during my graduation. Our apartment building had twenty-one steps on each floor, ten steps in one direction to reach the landing, and then eleven steps in opposite direction to reach the next floor. This old habit offered me the respite. I fumbled at times but I could descend three floors without much of difficulty. Yet with every turn on the stairs, the burden of the guilt was rising.
I took the turn on the ground floor, the penultimate turn before reaching the basement. I descended the first five stairs with ease when the laptop backpack slipped from my shoulder, to control it from falling further down I left the balustrade and raised my hand, but my legs lost the grip on the stairs. Even before I could have realised I was dragged with my back bouncing on each step until I reached the landing. Drenched in sweat I was lying on the stairs, motionless. A few incalcitrant teardrops trickled down my cheeks, I was not hurt, but my entire body was shivering.
I slouched against the wall and rethought about the entire scenario. Whatever I had done was wrong, but whatever I was doing, was even worse. Was this the only option left? I had debated it for a long time but could not arrive at any conclusion. I cursed myself for what I had done, I cursed myself for what I was doing, but I was helpless. I should have called Bangalore and spoken to him. He had helped me whenever I needed but then it was too late for that as well.
I readjusted the laptop bag on my shoulder, descended the last eleven steps, and reached the basement. The distance to the main gate seemed longer than ever. A security guard appeared from somewhere and came close enough to startle me, I stopped and took a step back, but soon I realised that he was not aware of anything that I was up to. In fact, nobody was aware, not even those who were cautiously sleeping within the confines of the castle lovingly built over a period with bricks of budding dreams. I wished that their chain of breath would weave a firmament strong enough to cocoon their life when the bricks of the castle cave in upon their chest.
‘Taxi, Dada? Where?’ The security guard asked.
‘At this time? Which flight? Where are you going, Dada?’ The Security Guard continued with a smile.
‘Siliguri.’ I replied absent-mindedly but regretted it almost immediately. A sense of fear that was lurking somewhere in the back of my head came to forefront and stared at me from the eyes of the security guard. I should not have revealed my destination. This one mistake could prove critical. Who was he to ask? I didn’t owe him the truth.
The journey to the airport was never so smooth. Negligible traffic on the road, the few vehicles that were plying were not honking, it was not needed during those hours either, but it appeared so unusual in a city like Kolkata. Everything appeared unusual. The taxi was running at an abnormal speed. The hurling wind collapsing against the half-closed window appeared more violent. I gave a perturbed look at the taxiwala but remained silent. My numb and dry vocal chords refused to support my internal assessment that the taxi needed deceleration.
Ineffectively camouflaged by the transparent veil of cigarette smoke at a corner of the parking lot outside the Airport, I spent an hour continually staring at the board, which said, “Exit towards the Main Road” It raised questions for which I was desperately searching for answers. How difficult would the return journey be for me? Will I ever be able to come back?
I boarded the on-time flight to Bagdogra. The darkness was about to give up when the plane took its course on the runway and rose towards the sky as if to defeat the darkness earlier than it would naturally be by the earth moving on her axis. I was allotted a window seat. The view outside was mesmerising. The airplane was floating above the clouds and the sun was rising in the horizon. As if the sun had conflagrated the sky, or may be, to celebrate its arrival, the clouds underneath had laid an orange carpet and slowly walking on it, the supreme power rose in the sky and with its every movement it started changing its colour.
On a normal day, I’d have ignored all the warnings for the flight safety, switched on my phone, and clicked as many pictures as my phone’s memory could have permitted, but that day was different. Lost in my own haunting thoughts, my vision glazed over with every passing moment. Why did my life take such a bizarre turn? I had warned myself several times but a mere desire overtook my senses. I wished I could have changed the way I lived the previous few weeks. I wished I could have changed the outcome of it. In fact, I could have, but I was too scared. Too scared to do anything apart from what I was doing. Whatever had happened in the past was bad, whatever was happening was bad too, bad for everybody, and I was the only person responsible. I closed my eyes, a lonely teardrop rolled down. I was not sure if the pieces of my life could ever come back together but the board was already set and the pieces were in motion.
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