Notes of a backbencher

February 11, 2010 at 23:38 (Reflections)

I’m sitting in the back bench of a class trying to avoid looking into the professor’s eyes.  The professor is of medium height and is stocky, bespectacled and has a friendly face. His voice is crisp but he speaks slowly and carefully. This makes him boring. The air in the room is still. Stale from being recycled by the air conditioner. The air conditioner installed by starving peasants in the 1970s. The crisp voice drones on amplified by the noise speckled speaker system. Sometimes, the microphone latched on to the professor’s shirt goes off in ear shattering squeals.

Some of the students listen attentively, ask questions and take notes. Some of them read novels or magazines while others tap away on their laptops. The ones who are really interesting to me are the ones who are lost in thought. What could they be thinking about? What universe do they inhabit?

I close my eyes and imagine the scene without any sound, in slow motion and in black &white. A pinch of drama in an otherwise mundane class. I imagine the professor gesticulating slowly while his mouth moves at an unnaturally slow pace. The sound, slowed down, is deep and drawn out burdening the fragile sound system. Colours are replaced with shades of black and white whose intensity reflected the colour whose place they took.

Speaking of B&W, I was suddenly reminded of the fact that I haven’t seen a B&W movie in a theatre. I’ve seen colour movies which have sequences in B&W but have never seen an ancient, cob-webbed, scratchy B&W movie in a theatre. I’ve looked for such theatres which play B&W movies but never found any. There are entire universes I would never know.

As a writer, this troubles me. The world consists of innumerable stories which hold secrets of the billions who inhabit this world. I want to know these secrets to write stories. Now that I know that there are vast swathes of knowledge which are closed to me, I have to construct alternate universes and people them. However, at the back of my mind, there is always an anxiety about the authenticity of the universes I create. Is it real? Would someone connect with what I write? Am I being pretentious and false? The answers elude me.

Perhaps pretentiousness is not so bad. Perhaps curiosity leads to no good. Some lines which I vaguely remember reading while reading up on the Rig Veda came to my mind:

Who really knows, who could here proclaim
Whence this creation flows, where is its origin?
With this great surge the Gods made their appearance.
Who therefore knows from where it did arise?


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