“So, how do you portray the characters of your stories?” – all of a sudden Joy threw the question over the luncheon towards me. We had been friends since our college days and he was always so interested and amazed with my little scribbles that I couldn’t help laughing at times at his exceeding curiosity. So did I today, but he was serious. So I replied that I did construct the characters from the real life – sometimes exactly, being overwhelmed by the uniqueness and sometimes blending my imaginations. Joy remained silent for a while and spoke in a thoughtful tone, “I have a little story to tell you. It’s my own experience I am telling.” I became curious at his tone and he narrated me a singular story.
” This is a story of one of my classmates. You know, he came from a well-to-do family, though not very rich, and was an average student of literature. His indifferent round face with a blunt nose and dim eyes was a clear portrayal of his mediocrity. But he was a jolly good fellow, though a sign of melancholy always drooped from his gaze. After finishing college he went off in search of job and I didn’t hear anything from him until a few days back, when I met him at a shabby, disrepute by-lane of Delhi.
He was in an unhealthy state with torn, dirty attire – hardly getting a square meal. He was living in a cage-like worn-out shelter in a filthy lane. I was shocked to see him – but it seemed that he took really no notice of me, hardly recognizing me at first. Even after he recognized, he was indifferent to his circumstances. I offered him tea in a cafe, which he accepted with indifference. I was startled at his change. He had turned into a cold fellow, with the same blunt features, but his eyes shone with a strange spark – indicating something unusual – as if something else has possessed his soul like a devil.
His wordings had become pretty incoherent, as if he lacked words to express. But from whatever I gathered from him was startling. After his college, he found a small clerkship job in the outskirts of Delhi, with a decent pay check. He married a local girl and settled there with an apparently happy life. I am saying “apparently” as he never mentioned any signs of any row in the family. But then, after ten years of married life, one fine morning, he left his job and family and his children altogether! And he did that willingly, without remorse! When I asked him the reason – he said an absurd theory that he wanted to express himself through a medium, and he took music as his medium.
You won’t believe the areas where he visits daily – day or night. He himself said that sometimes he was in possession of lust and most primitive natures of human race, and he believed that these are the elements that made his soul experience the forces of primitive world. I saw him burning inside – in search of himself – and his expressions came out through his innumerable sheets of music. I saw one of the sheets he callously crumpled and threw out after wiping his hand. The flow of melody can’t be expressed, or is there any melody at all? I don’t know pal, but I am certain of one thing – they are singular and incomprehensible to us, the commoners. There was something queer in those abrupt ups and downs of the tones – it seemed that an inexplicable force was trying to escape the agony and the appeal was horrific but addictive, as if a dark spell was cast.
Now, tell me what do you think of him? A talented Satan? A selfish moron? A man with a loathsome and substandard character? Or a primitive, boundless character who is far too idealist?”
With this, Joy finished his narration of his extraordinary (though real) story. I was in a state of shock and awe. The layers and dimensions of this character turned my head spinning. Both of us finished our lunch without anymore words and then sat on the sofa to make ourselves comfortable for a smoke. Joy was looking at me inquisitively. After a long silence, I spoke up, “Joy, are we capable of understanding what is standard? Or is there anything called standard – other than a set of rules made by ignorant fools like us?” Joy nodded and drifted off in different topic to lighten the mood of our discussion – but I was not hearing anything – and just decided to portray this singular, extraordinary character in my next writing – “The despicable”.