Lock and key

I could hear the key turning on the lock next door while I sat doing nothing beneath a shelf filled with books. I could hear the key turning as if someone’s hand was shivering.

In fact, there could be no ideal way of turning a key on a lock. It always sounded like someone was in a hurry to open the door and get in or away from the outside. I had tried to test the symphony of a key turning on a lock. For a couple of times, I locked the door from the inside and told my wife over the phone that she should use the key to open the door while coming back from office. When she turned the key on the lock, I listened to her odd way of doing it. It was different from the noise that I often hear from the next door.

I knew the young man who was trying to lock the door in the morning and then open it sometime before noon. Just like other neighbors, I never opened my door, or my window, or appeared on the balcony to know what the man was doing or who was opening the door. I just listened to that sound of the key on the lock. I could not remember whether I had heard the sound of the key after that. May be I was sleeping, watching TV, browsing aimlessly, or reading a book or that wretched newspaper that I always wanted to stop reading.

The man was not alone in that flat. There is a woman, his wife, and a kid in that flat.


“Time passed. But time flows in many streams. Like a river, an inner stream of time will flow rapidly at some places and sluggishly at others, or perhaps even stand hopelessly stagnant. Cosmic time is the same for everyone, but human time differs with each person. Time flows in the same way for all human beings; every human being flows through time in a different way.”

Yasunari Kawabata, Beauty and Sadness

Source: Vintage Books & Anchor Books

Music video

I accidentally saw this video. A man jumps out of a plane mid-air and starts singing.

As a species, we enjoy speed. You can see the white line on the road running backwards, or streaks of dust on the road indicating how fast you drive, or the tree that appears all of a sudden on the left or right frame and whiz past the corner of the eye like a vertical line. Speed is a risk, we all know that. But we silently observe and experience it.

Did we arrive flying or running incredibly fast? Or did someone bring us to Earth so fast that we forgot from where we started the unknown and purposeless journey? This is like the speed destroying the memories like the wipe effect in movies. Or are we still flying too fast to an unknown destination? Is the speed still so high that we cannot observe what is speeding with us, or observe things slower than us?

Is there a frame of reference to observe how many and whom and all are travelling with us?


Fourth floor

The building sat on top of a mini-hill surrounded by high trees that looked green and similar. When I stood on the terrace and looked at the fading sun in the silent evenings, the trees still looked dense and mysterious. A green layer of rustling and silken presence living in undisturbed vitality. The trees belonged to the Eucalyptus species and on the upward slopes on the side of the road a few buildings stood in between. The trees sometimes created a silken, thin layer of dead, gray leaves that enveloped the hard earth. I had seen protruding rocks in between the very few shrubs that existed. Rocks that were black and sturdy, rugged and pointed at the edges hidden behind the woods of trees and concealed under the layer of leaves. Kind of camouflage.

Red laterite sand lay underneath the silken leaves and through which wooden branches of the trees emerged seeking something under the dead layer. I had to be careful while walking through this route instead of the curving road that went parallel to the trees. I had hoped that I would see a reptile somewhere concealed in those leaves or crossing the road: a silvery flash of throbbing, viscous skin wriggling across the road. I had seen lovers adjusting their positions in those bushes; I did not look back as I was not interested and my mission was much important than the momentary rush of blood. My friends said they were drug addicts.

The building to where I was walking to stood on a flat piece of land surrounded by labs and an auditorium shaped like the Sun. The auditorium was interesting because I had not seen any activity in that building. In the night, somebody did switch on the white lights, but it was a mystery why that building stood there without any activity.

I usually walked through the paths created by students, and used to imagine that I was a slowing train on the outer yards of its destination. As I approached the building, which was a library, the vegetation cleared and the place grew more brighter until I entered the building through the front door manned by an aged security guard. There was a small shed outside where people used to park their bicycles and bikes.

It was by accident that I discovered that there was a section in that library that did not interest many. On certain days, I could not find the book I wanted. On another day, there were so many that made selection difficult. The unexplored section stood on the fourth floor and it was much more cleaner than the other sections. The books here remained more or less well stacked and in order, untouched or undisturbed. There were new and old books, but the old ones did have a peculiar smell that indicated that they were still fresh. There was Thomas Mann, Samuel Beckett, Marquez, Soyinka, Kafka, Hrabal, Chekhov, Greene, Maugham, Canetti, and several others, free and undisturbed on those shelves. And I, with just two cards, used to stand looking at them, touching them, opening them, reading a few lines, and stretched to take another one with a couple on my other hand already. At times, I saw a bestseller in between, and I get enraged. I used to throw the bestseller to a vacant part of a shelf as a punishment: my punishment for that book being part of the esteemed group. By dislocation, I meant to teach the librarian a lesson. I was sure that the librarian would one day understand why a particular book deserved not to be on that shelf.

Tired and after spending some time there to make others suspicious, I used to take the road back, down from the fourth floor of that library, instead of the tree-covered slope. From the road, the trees now looked darker and lifeless, while a mysterious scent wafted in from a flower that bloomed late in the night, or something that I had failed to notice earlier. I could not remember whether I walked back slower or faster, but I do remember I walked back alone. Even if I saw someone, I did not speak besides the casual greetings.