Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Rockstar IV : I am a voyeur not a player (flash fiction)




“You are not the only one on this planet you know?” Tiina can hear the anger threading through the girl's voice like a whiplash.
His voice drops to a murmur in reply so she can’t hear the words. She watches in surprise then as they embrace. Oh! So that’s how this goes? A touch on her shoulder has her looking up in surprise, her eyes taking a second to adjust from peering at the scene being played out under the spotlight to the figure towering next to her, “you need to go get your own life, not watch on while others live out theirs’ ”
“I am a voyeur not a player” she replies, glad that her blush cannot possibly be seen under the cover of darkness.
“One has to suffer for one’s art…and for one’s heart,” says Neil his eyes fixed on the spectacle unfolding on stage. 
As if sensing his glance the rockstar looks back at him, his eyes darting to Tina, pinning them with his stare. Can he see into my soul? Surely in that one look he has grasped everything about me, where I came from, my past… is he the oracle I should ask about my future? 
In reply to her unspoken question he raises his head, shakes back his mane of long dirty brown hair, holds up both his arms as if asking the white light to swallow him up, bear him on their wings and above everything below, and screams, a primal, from the pits of his guts-through-his-heart-and out of his mouth-come and get me if you can scream. And the girls in the crowd scream right back, in unison, answering his mating call. He is their guru, they are his slaves. They will happily follow him to hell and back, a million times. And then the tidal wave of sound pours over her, under him next to her, through the one on stage, and into the audience, covering all in a sheen of bleached silence. 
She watches it all unfold without hearing anymore. Not the music, nor the screaming from the crowd, or the bass pounding. It is as if there are people everywhere. They squeeze into each other, climbing over the shoulders of the ones in front to wave their hands in manic abandon, all jumping, dancing, crying. The lights follow him in a complicated, sinuous move, caressing his body, making him glow, ethereal like the sun god. Then just when she thinks that it can’t get any louder, he points to the audience, and following his cue the spotlight shines on them—they are his sacrifice—and all of them, it must be every single living organism in the room even the lizard on the ceiling shriek in one voice. 
Suddenly Tiina is screaming with them. Without realising it she is hanging onto the arm of the human male next to her, gripping him in excitement, jumping up and down, and mirroring the headshake that she has seen earlier. She is soaring with the crowd surfers then, and the world has stopped. All that matters is the music, distracting her from everything, detaching her from everyone in the galaxy, connected to the one on stage by an umblical chord, which pumps her full with adrenaline, she can't stop. She does not know the song, but that does not matter. Heart racing she is drenched. Is it her own sweat, or the perspiration from the crowd spraying around the room like a shower head—it matters not. As suddenly as it has begun it is over. She realises there is no more music. The rockstar turns observer, smiling broadly, he watches the crowd senseless with the sound he has created, and slowly they quieten down, one by one watching their creator, till every last one is silent looking back at him. In the complete silence that follows he claps his hands once, twice, and the crowd takes it up on the third….Ishal… shal… Mishaal…
If you liked this click here to go to the origins of The Rockstar Rockstar - the Origins


Walk the ramp, talk the talk


In God's own country... 
Where a ramp came to symbolise so much more


The drill pounded into the earth, and the sounds of men swearing whole-heartedly in Malayalam, while welding together the iron bars against the external walls of the bedroom, overwhelmed my senses. The noise grew in intensity throughout the day, the cacophony crowding the thoughts in my mind, compressing them into a tight ball of piercing sensation which dug its claws into the back of my brain. Then, just as my bloodshot nerves threatened to take on a life of their own, and snap in desperation, it stopped. 

For a moment the silence overwhelmed, and then like a thick comforting blanket, the quiet enveloped me in its embrace and I relaxed, tentatively letting my spirit unfurl from the nook where it had been backed up for most of the day.  I heaved a sigh of relief. The electricity had gone off at the pre-ordained hour of 6pm for the daily outage in the city, and so the workmen had decided to call it a day. I was at the family home in Thrissur, a small town in the self-proclaimed God's own country - Kerala, and the noise was on accord of a ramp being built into the back wall of the bungalow.

A precautionary measure by aged relations—an uncle and aunt—who lived on the floor above, it was their insurance for the future. They had been worried that if one of them were to fall ill and be hospitalized, then perhaps the stretcher would not fit the existing, narrow stairwell. Their original idea of fitting a lift into the fa├žade had been abandoned due to the steep costs associated. Besides as someone pointed out, what was the use of having a lift powered by electricity, in a city that was prone to daily outages? So they had instead, decided to go ahead and build this ramp.

I gazed at the half complete structure with fascination. It seemed like some futuristic beast, struck in half by lightening, iron rods bursting in all directions like a medieval torture instrument. Any moment, I expected flashing lights, blaring sirens and little green men from outer-space landing at the top of the structure, only to slide down the gradient, laughing hysterically. 
A 1300+ year old temple of Lord Shiva, near the family home in Thrissur

That night, over the obligatory evening pegs, the uncle sheepishly confessed that he had not been hospitalized or even been unwell for as far back as he could remember. He was just really worried about his advancing years, and concerned that he may develop some chronic condition at any time. Hence, he was future proofing his life, planning it to the smallest detail as possible. He had lived his early working years travelling around the sub-continent, indeed embarking on several adventure-trips around the world. Now he refused to get on a plane if the journey was more than three hours—stating his advancing years (he really didn’t seem old or fragile--at least to me) as the main reason to deprive him of any of these experience; in the same breath pointing to the unused crystal champagne glasses now showcased in the living room, he wistfully spoke about those good old days when his house was filled with friends and he and his wife had entertained almost every week. As the evening lengthened, the liquor loosened his tongue, and he proceeded to regale the assembled company, with many amusing anecdotes from his voyages.

I looked at the scene, trying to reconcile the ramp and the defensive fear of the future it stood for, with the adrenaline of living for the exhilaration of new experiences.
It really was all in the head. 

What you can or cannot do, what you want to do, it’s all about your mindset. From where I was, there was nothing (I thought) stopping him from continuing to have those experiences, whatever age it was; and the very same applied to me. I too have lived a lot of my life, at the edge of a ramp of my own making. Barriers, which I have put up, convinced that they were impenetrable, while I peered wistfully over them at the world outside. Building many gradients to the future, perhaps never to use many of them again. 

Why not simply slide down this slope now, as if I was back in my childhood playground, w-h-o-o-p as I gather speed, scream with the intense pleasure of roaring down towards my goal and laugh with joy when I cross over the edge?  


About Laxmi Hariharan: I am a writer, technophile & dare I say, a futurist, with a penchant for chai and growing eye-catching flowers.   My debut novel The Destiny of Shaitan is available on Amazon http://tiny.cc/szqsewConnect with me:  https://www.facebook.com/laxmihariharanauthor