• Wednesday, September 17, 2014

FABLE FACTORY

The Lead Role

Shreyosi Endow

The monotonous sound of the alarm hauled Mizan out of sleep, the ceiling fan groaning above his head. He made his way to the little bathroom attached to his bedroom. His insides twisted as he tiptoed across the mud-covered (at least that's what he hoped it was) floor towards the sink. He loosened the steel tap clockwise, but to his utter disappointment, not a single drop of water came out of it. It made a gurgle and a whiz and then became silent once more. Mizan stared at it blankly; his jaw tightened. He moved on towards the half full bucket of stale water that he had stored two days back when he had last been graced with crystal clear running water, and having no other choice, splashed his drowsy face with it.
The part-time maid had prepared his breakfast, the usual ruti and vegetables, and had left it on the dining table. He stuffed the food down his throat and slurped the last of his tea, leaving behind only the dregs. Picking up his briefcase, he walked out of the door, locking it cautiously. The high-pitched voice of his neighbor filled the staircase. He heard her nag about how she couldn't wash her hair twice every day, and how pimples punctuated her rosy cheeks now, that too to the guard who basically 'had nothing to do about it.' Avoiding her gaze, Mizan made his way out of the gate to the main road.
The tempo stand was only a five minutes' walk from his apartment. 'Faram-get, Faram-get,' he heard the helper yell, and he knew that was his ride. The tempo rattled towards its destination, picking up passengers here and there, squashing Mizan between an elderly woman and a man who constantly chewed betel leaves. The last passenger was a man, probably in his mid-thirties, with long hair and a scruffy face, clad in a striped panjabi and full-rimmed glasses. A loose bag was slung against his right shoulder, and he stared intently at each and every one of the passengers. Then he took out a torn diary and scribbled something quickly amid the jerking. 'Vai, what are you writing?' a curious one asked, to which he replied with fake intelligence, 'I'm writing a book on the lives of the ordinary people of Bangladesh.' The other men seemed mesmerised by the idea, but Mizan was not. 'Writers!' he grumbled under his breath.
Mizan knew how his story would start. It would start with a man who had no running water to wash his face in the morning. And he knew how it would end too. The same man would evolve to become No. 1 on Forbes' billionaires' list. He would have the most beautiful woman in the world as his wife and would live happily ever after. Because otherwise, there would be nothing to intrigue the reader! The elderly lady sitting beside him will definitely not tickle the reader's fancy, nor will the man chewing the betel leaves be the perfect obstacle on the lead's road to success. In the story, the ordinary will NEVER remain ordinary. Mundane lives will change for good, and that is the golden rule.
But reality was the exact opposite. For example, there was no change in Mizan's boss's yelling and complaining that day, nor was there any change in the workload, or the stuffy environment of the office that made Mizan's tongue feel like sand. By 5, with piles of files still left to be checked, Mizan had no other option but to take those home, for the office was closing. He banged his fists against the wooden table, and loaded his briefcase with the papers. The rush hour never made Mizan's temper any better, and it took a good hour to get back home.
Mizan muttered curses under his breath as he ransacked his briefcase for the keys, and once found, he unlocked the door and kicked it open. He stomped to his bedroom, flung the bag towards his dirty bed, and groaned aloud. This was his usual routine, and it usually took an hour or so before he calmed down again. But his sensitive ears picked up a sound that acted like a soothing balm over his rage today. The bathroom door was partly open. Mizan tiptoed towards it and softly pushed it ajar. The floor was clean, and the sink overflowing. Crystal clear water gushed out of the steel tap.

 

Published: 12:00 am Thursday, April 10, 2014

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