Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Moonlight

The man walked on the beach. The stray dog followed him as usual. It was late in the night. The moon was high and bright. There was a good breeze. He could smell the salt in the wind. It was just as he liked it. He came to the beaches on days he felt were never ending. He felt he had been coming here too often these days. He observed the play of moon light on the turbulent waters of the sea and the sand on the beach. He looked around as he walked. He was could see no other persons nearby. Into the distance, he could see the lights of the city though. They looked hypnotizing. But he preferred the water of the sea. Never having learnt to swim, he always regarded it with some awe and fear. The huge rocks projecting into the sea, the sand on the beach and the sound of the sea, the waves – this was his happy place.

The other man appeared suddenly out of nowhere. By the look of him, he seemed to be having rough days. His clothes were ragged; he had a slight air of poverty around him. But his bright eyes and his seemingly energetic manner bettered the first impression of him. He came forward and they shook hands. The stranger started to talk. He said that he was an actor, and if his well wishers were to be believed, he was really good at it. But right now, he was going through a rough patch and had been without work for days. This introduction didn’t do him much good.

The man, the dog was following, if he hated anyone, hated actors. He always had. He felt that they were untalented people getting fame, fortune and recognition for something very trivial and commonplace. So, on this occasion he felt nothing for the stranger. On the other hand, he felt slightly angry and told him his feelings about the acting business.

The stranger, instead of arguing back, proposed that he would act a bit for him, so the person could see for himself, so he might change his opinion towards actors. He added, if his acting was bad, an honest review by a critic would be welcome, but if the person felt that he had acted really well, he had to reward him with whatever the person saw fit. The person pulled out a hundred rupee note and declared haughtily that even if he is a little touched by the act, he would gladly give that amount away and take back his words about actors and their trade.

The actor agreed without any comments. If he felt any rage, he did nothing to show it. he said that since they were at the beach and the night was bright, , for a much better effect, he would act out a scene in the water. He pointed to the largest rock, a little distance away, which was jutting out way into the water and also quite a distance into the beach, and told that he would go to the top of the rock and dive in from there. The person could remain in the same place and observe the act, as the angle from this place was perfect. The rock and the sea were in front with the lights of the city behind him.

The actor started walking towards the rock. After a few steps, remembering something, he turned around and informed that though he knew swimming, right now it was pretty rusty, so in case of any complications, the person had to call out for Hariram, his friend who sometimes helped out in his acts.

With that, he started walking briskly along the beach, climbed the huge rock deftly, and reached the top. The moon was a halo around his head. The waves in the sea were lit by moonlight. The scene was idyllic. The man raised his arms and dived gracefully into the sea.

The act was brilliant. Out of the world. It starred the actor in two roles. He would dive into the water completely and resurface to switch between the characters. There were no spoken words in the scene. It was acting in the purest form. The scene started with the two people happily swimming around. The antics were funny. A faint smile appeared on the face of the person on the beach. Through the play, a small altercation was enacted, making one of the characters really angry. The anger was really something to watch. The person on the beach was by now, staring transfixed. Then, as the actor resurfaced as the other person, the scene changed. Now, the person was trying to plead with the first one. The helpless look was heart-breaking. The person on the beach had never seen such a thing in his life before. Suddenly, the scene changed again, as if the person in the water was being pulled under and he was trying hard to break free. The look of fear on his face, actually made the person on the beach forget to breathe. He felt the actor’s fear within himself. He continued to watch fascinated, as the scene was excruciatingly prolonged. The fear and helplessness flowed out from the actor in waves. In the end it was replaced by pure resignation. And then the actor went underwater.

The person on the beach realized that he had tears in his eyes and he was breathing heavily. He waited for a moment trying to find words to describe what he felt. He felt that no words can ever be used to describe the act or his present feelings. Then he realized that the actor was nowhere to be seen. He looked around in alarm. He tried his best to remember the name the actor had told him to call out, in case of a complication. This was the mother of all complications. He tried in vain to remember the name. He had never thought about anything this hard. It served no purpose. Waves of guilt and sorrow and humility and helplessness joined all the other raw emotions churning in his body. He tried to shout out for help. But emotions overwhelmed him. He felt a huge tightness in his chest. He couldn’t breathe for real this time. The last thought that entered his mind was that the world had lost its greatest actor and he was the reason for that sacrilege. Then he collapsed in a heap on the beach. The moon went behind a cloud. The night was dark.

The dog had been looking at the scene till now with interest. It came forward and sniffed the prone body. It walked around and sniffed some more. Then, the inactivity made it lose interest. Realizing that it was hungry, it started looking around for scuttling crabs. It followed the footprints of the actor, leaving paw prints alongside on the sand. It walked around the huge rock to the other side. It glanced once at the silhouette of a man, sitting on a smaller rock, staring into the city lights with his back to the sea, a small distance away.

The crabs on the beach caught its attention again.

It hurried after the biggest one.



PS: This is an adaptation based loosely on a similar story written, a long time ago, by the author of BrAiN DuNg !

4 comments:

Rakesh Babu G R said...

The author of Brain Dung is either extremely brilliant, or a very poor plagiariser, or has inetrnalised some of the things he has read, bcos the story is quite similar to the one written by Chekov, the Russian short story great. I have seen the televization of the story on Doordarshan.

Dha said...

oh.. i wasn't aware of a similar story written by another - than the the author of Brain Dung ..i don't think he was aware either...
anyway.. there was a slightly different middle section, and significantly different ending in the story by the above said author..
i'll see if i can find the story by Chekov...

Anonymous said...

I bet you think you're a great writer, eh? sorry to burst your bubble..

Dha said...

@anonymous
dear sir,
as much as i appreciate your taking time off to comment, i feel that your doubts are unfounded. anyway, your benefit, i hereby state that i have no grand allusions about my writing skills. i have read enough literature to understand that it is futile to even dream about comparing myself with anyone who can write anything of any value. it was never my intention to come off as mighty and boastful. and if you feel that in my writings/comments i have done so, you have my humblest apologies.

ps: if you are the kind of person who would bet on something as frivolous as my thoughts about my writing, i feel obligated to request you to stay away from gambling, for your own good