Prisoner

Posted: February 25, 2013 by Ankur in Writes...
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Tejpratap stood quietly,gazing out of the transparent wall in front of him. He was waiting there along with a few family members. Everybody present was related to each other by blood. Close people, with their goals and welfare prospects inter meshed with each other.A family, a clan closely knit. They stood and talking to each other in the luxurious waiting area. They talked of matters that were common to them,shared interests and hopes. Anyone following their conversations would easily comprehend their social proximity to each other. But, the man they all adored and cared most for was the man who stood silent, away from the group ,gazing at the sky through the transparent fibre glass walls.
The sun was setting. A bird, probably an eagle, seemed to float in a spiral around it. It’s rings getting smaller and smaller as it approached the peak of this imaginary helix it was navigating.

Tejpratap was born in a remote village in Haryana,India. As a kid he was an attention seeker. The congenital instinct was pronounced in him. Something which if missing made him feel empty. Growing up he observed that the people on television were paid the most attention.Amongst them, the best were the ones in movies. The “manly” guys. “Saviours of the oppressed”. Brave hearts.” Romeos”. Women loved them. Mothers and aunts. Fathers and uncles. In-laws and police constables. Everyone knew them and were obsessed by them.The people working in the cities would come home and be the proud narrators of the story lines of the released movies yet not aired on the T.V. Every evening after dusk the men gathered at the communes discussing the latest heroes and their evil antagonists,good and bad story lines and pretty women.A movie was an important experience one lived through.The more actors you could name,the more storylines you were familiar with was a par t of your social position.The people working in cities talked about glimpses of the opulent lifestyles of the actors. The cars,the villas,the clothes,the hairstyles and the money. He dreamt of the city,the huge audiences at the movie screenings. The fan following and the good life.
Closely observing what people liked watching and what they liked to hear and what they talked about he went about imitating and developed his mannerisms and style.Next, he organized his own theatre group and started performing plays and scoop’s from movies. Their performances were hits. Their renditions were enjoyed by audiences everywhere they performed. In a mater of a few years he was the pride of his village. He had gathered a local following by the time he was sixteen. His village became famous. Kids in his village saw him as their taste-maker. Soon people from surrounding villages queued regularly for his acts.

But then something happened. Back home his parents were prodding him to get married to a girl who would bring him a big dowry. He considered his options and by the next dawn he had packed his few belongings and had left for the city to put in all his effort into being a successful actor.

The initial period was inconvenient and frustrating. He was out of work and money.The days were long and insecurity followed him around like a ominous shadow overclouding most of his thoughts. No one considered his accent and imitated mannerisms fit. He spent his time working on odd jobs and auditioning.And being rejected.Learning to live with consecutive rejections without ceding his efforts and dreams was a useful lesson.His intent never wavered and after six long years he was chosen for a role in a small production which did unprecedented business. His contributions were appreciated and he transitioned from a beggar to a chooser in the space of a few months. Keeping up the goodwork he soon made a segue into lead roles which were well accepted and cheered. People now flocked to get a glimpse of him. He had the success he had always wanted and it emboldened him.He started skirting with ventures bearing elements of substantial risk.The critiques gave him a hard time, revi ews became binary ,often shifting between extremes. But his following increased and became more loyal.He was now perceived an auteur. His admirers now fought with people who maligned his work. His movies went on to the international arena. They were now dubbed into foreign tongues. And his onscreen presence was celebrated worldwide.He was now the cynosure of his times.
His fame escalated. His schedules became crowded,he then had to resort to using a private aircraft for the travelling required by his schedule. Appointments with him had to be scheduled months in advance.Every conversation was a money making conversation. He found himself launching brands he would have never used just to cut into market share and grow as a business.

He had always been a person with a very few friends but now the few people he considered friends became distant. His family had made peace with him and his success brought them closer but he hardly spent time with them. His birthdays were small occasions of love,blessings and good wishes which now became huge events covered by the media. He was a quiet man who only talked of things that were important, nowadays an importunate man with a mike and questions was always around the corner and he argued the most frivolous and trivial of things ,he found himself participating in events he was never interested in, just because his agents found it convincing. He was associated with a thousand activities, none of which he cared much about. His dreams were gone,as were his aspirations. He was now a man who lived his whole life according to the whims of others, most importantly a large firm which employed hundreds of people.

He looked down at the city below him. A labyrinth,in which dwelled inmates. People with no will or thoughts of their own. Each living in his own part of the maze. Each knowing nothing and almost afraid of an existence outside the prison. A life without tap water,a life without chemicals wrapped attractively in plastic packs to heal you when you felt uncomfortable .A life without movies or music. A life without home delivery or heaters and cooking gas.Life without sports teams and parties. A prison of university and school degrees and diplomas.Deadlines,growth rates and industries,a veneer of civilisation. A system thriving against nature. Where dreams nurtured were of possessions ,and where dreams and lives could change overnight.A world changing every second. The dynamic nature of time was amplified for everyone to observe but no one noticed it or planned much by it. People fretted more over trivialities and important issues took a backseat. A montage of lifestyles .Posh pas tures and decrepit communities which once were lush. A reflection of the truth no one noticed.

A newborn’s cries filled the lounge,within moments a television screen blinked on and played a live stream of a newborn kid wailing and being cleaned and covered.Everyone was exited.Gesticulations ,murmurs and smiles seemed to possess all in the room but nothing possessed Tej.The bird had stopped the spiral and now took a different direction,the evergrowing labyrinth below and the setting sun above, his mind was focused somewhere in between.
The wails had stilled.The excitement had hushed as the new member of family was brought to the joyous awaiters.Tej,turned and watched the filial affection bestowed by all present.His son made his way to him ,carried and passed from one person to another, all murmuring words of affection and promise.It seemed to him like an act of persuasion, to maybe persuade the kid to stay on.That a life here was better,that the realities were not so bad,nor were the prospects useless and unworthy.Maybe the kid knew the reality,the accurate nature of the world and maybe that was the reason it was scared and needed the consolation,the persuasion.The final transfer took place and he held his child,the quiet bundle of prospects,of responsibility,of the primordial urge for survival.The kid yawned and broke into shrill wails,the universal signal for attention born from fear.”I’m sorry” ,said Tej.

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