Monday, September 18, 2006

Signs Of Things

Despite his quirks, Anmol is a versatile and interesting conversationalist. Sheila realizes one evening while talking to him that they have been on the phone for four hours, and its been five months since Gagan introduced them. Though they are yet to meet in person, neither feels any great sense of urgency to do so - it is almost like the fragile spell of their acquaintance hovering tentatively on the fringes of friendship would be broken if anything were hastened.

They were talking about how sometimes signs of things to come are conveyed through unremarkable incidents on ordinary days. How the moment comes to assume significance out of its original context and only much later. Sheila could think at least of one such event from her past. "Tell me about it like you would tell a story without you in it - relate it like a dispassionate observer might" said Anmol. "Why ?" asked Shiela. "I'll explain after you tell" he replied. So Sheila did between bites of her Gai Pad Khiaowan.

A young girl is sitting by her bedroom window. She is thirteen years old. It is just the
beginning of the summer vacation. The Sal tree outside is in bloom. With each gust of afternoon wind fruits with pale green wings begin their spiral descent. They impregnate themselves on a soil hard and unwilling to receive but the rains will change that soon. A multitude of seedlings will crowd the roots of the ancient tree. An eagle has his nest on top. When he swoops down other birds flee in fear.

The girl notices little things - she wonders about them. She had started to keep a dream journal but lately her nights have been pleasantly empty. She adores Maugham, Camus and Kundera and has read most of their works. Her teachers think that she will have an all India rank in the board exams which are three years away. She does not know if that is true but it is a nice thing to believe in.

Today she lies reading something very different. It's a book called Petals in the Wind by VC Andrews. Her English teacher has chosen this one among several others for her summer reading from the school library. It is late evening when she finishes the book. She wonders why Ms Peirera chose this one of all things. This is not something the other kids in her class would read. She lies thinking about what she has read - being an only child she cannot relate to the story at all. But the theme of incest disturbs her deeply all the same.

In life's nondescript minutiae lies it's larger purpose. When things don't blend in an overall pattern, it is a flag - they try to say something. Very much like Paul Davis' concept on decoding the DNA for extra-terrestrial intelligence. Years later she will have an answer to her question.

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