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Short stories

The Loneliness of Suresh Chand

24.03.17

 

He could no longer write. The dilemma was that the publishers would not accept his work and neither was he prepared to share what he wrote with anyone else unless it had been published. Where the publishers denied him readers, he went one better and denied himself from any possibility of a reader. To add the last complication, he could not write unless there was a potential reader to see what he had written. He cut himself off entirely from the reading public and cut off his writing hand in the process. “After all,” he thought to himself, “what were the reading public but a bunch of fools? They would look over something that had taken many hours of thought with the gaze of a flickering candle. Words that had taken an agony to conceive of were passed over silently and thoughts that had come from the mountain top of inspiration remained unrecognised for the precious jewels that they were.”

In fact, Suresh Chand could not live without his readers. He endured agonies of torment through the separation with the other. Out there, waiting for him, yearning for him, praying for him, was the receptive consciousness of one that was as himself, his reader double. She was a woman. She was not just any woman, but The Woman. She was the goddess. Her gaze was steady and unblinking. She was beauty herself and knew the beautiful like her own face. Her knowledge was a profound well full of life. She could see what he could not see in himself. She was all-encompassing and her reading would transform him. Her reading would make him into the writer that he craved to be. She was his very self, that friend that is like one’s integrity.

Thus the writer that could not write sat before the laptop, playing word games on the internet. He was joining up random letters together against the clock. Black and naked they came, all apart, refugees from the land of language. He clothed them in forms with his hands. He gave them a community and bestowed the shared language of English upon them. He became their overlord. They took from him without gratitude and disappeared, to be replaced by swarms of others. Unruly like children, they attempted to escape his gifts. Yet he could not content himself with the bestowing of bounties upon them. He had to give more, more, more. He was locked within his own munificence. Time and time again he played. Time and time again he gambled the gambit of gabble.

As he synthesised the material of the letters into a passing meaning, he thought again of the speech last night. He had gone, seeking solace, to a talk on The Leader at the University. There, amidst the classifications and taxonomies of The Leader’s politics and the overview of his forms of representation, he had encountered a presentation of textual resistance. The professor speaking had poured an idea of rebellion into a piece of writing which insisted on the phrase, “create anew.” This two word term had covered an entire sheet of paper in a block on the display. Suresh Chand had stared at the block of writing in silent fury. As the professor spoke, the fury built and built. To think that a person could equate this impotent imperative with resistance! Here was the very phrase which the insecure writer who gives up mumbles to their self after a bout of fresh failure! It was indeed the phrase of failure and weakness. That something new could be created in this world of words in which all had been said before many and many times over! The fool who does not listen could say these words, not one with ears. The block of words was like the scrawl of a child learning to write for the first time, the dull repetition of a formula which had been plucked from the conventionality of this degraded world and society and its thought. Suresh had choked down his awful anger. He had thrown away the exasperating and devastating irony of the imperative which it is imperative to go against if one is to create at all, to be read at all and to be understood at all. He had cursed the professor and scurried away, like a rat from a sinking ship.

Suresh had given up on London and on life, just as he had given up on writing. Many years ago, he had done something very similar in the sixth form. When the bell for lunch time had gone, he would pluck himself up and throw himself across the school. He would always land in the same place: the boy’s toilets. There, he would enclose himself in the solitary cubicle and put the lid over the toilet seat so that he did not have to smell anything objectionable or see it. Then, he would pull out his packed lunch and consume it in silence, like the stealthy mosquito of the night. There he would stand, staring at the grey walls. There was only the distant sound of the voices of children. All was still, nothing moved. The grey walls were like the dead and grey sea of the winter. The smell of disinfectant pervaded his very pores, cleansing him of the sins of this life. When he had finished his lunch, he would crawl like a noxious insect to the library. He would pick up the same book every day. It was the book of quotations, heavy and unpopular. He would sit by himself while other students rushed off their homework for the next lesson, the solitary sixth former, immovable, imperturbable, impervious to all. He was in communion with the dead.

When life came, it was with the quickness of the blade that could not be defended. He had been standing in the swimming pool, resting from a gruelling series of lengths. For Suresh’s exercises were as lonesome as the rest of his life, and conducted with the desperation of those that have nothing else. At the entrance there was suddenly a tumult of shapes from which had emerged a tall blonde in spectacles and a black bikini, with children and a female companion. The sight of the woman’s form had coursed through Suresh’s hard and brown body like the lightning. Desire had vanquished him completely. He had stood, stock still, staring like one who must see to enter into the halls of heaven. The woman’s body had radiated a malicious and mischievous light which rivalled that of the sun and dazzled his eyes.

Since that moment, Suresh had endured dreams of endless tantalisation. He would approach the woman whose name he did not know every night, in her spectacles and black bikini. At the very last moment, she would disappear, after having given him an enigmatic smile full of glistening teeth. He would scream and scream in the dream and then wake up in a sweat, trembling all over and gasping for air.

Such was the loneliness of Suresh Chand.

 

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