Once an inquisitive reader asked me, "Could you please tell me where do the fiction-writers get so many stories from?"
'Why not?' I beamed with confidence. 'Listen, please. Suppose it's evening – home time for the office goers. The Chaurangi area is buzzing with the crowd. Trams are sardine-packed with exhaustion-consumed people. White Sahibs along with their wives and children are enjoying themselves in the Gorer Maath. The Madrasi ayahs draped in saris and the red-oval faced Nepalese nannies are indulging in unending chit-chat while pushing the perambulators. The departing sun has still its gilded aura at the apex of Saint Paul's dome. What a splendid series of mundane yet electrifying, fleeting pictures arrested through the windows of a journeying tram! This ephemeral collage is, as if, the cautious attempt of an invisible Master-artist to create a perfect ambience before the commencement of the performance or exhibition. Now, notice please, the creative artists treat this serene environment as the tambura of their story. Against the backdrop of this sonic canvas, enchantingly musical with tones and overtones, all on a sudden a brewing conversation from behind reaches my ear-drums –
"It's YOU, I see," the soft voice of a young lady.
"You can RECOGNIZE me, then?" – A young man replied in a serious but depressing tone.
"What do you think?"
"I think what I should think."
The emotion-soaked exchange compelled me to turn my head and heart nearly 180 degrees but unfortunately my attempt to trace the unyoked beau and beloved met its Waterloo in the dense, non-porous forest of passengers.
"What happened after that?" the curious reader quizzed.
"Nothing," I responded.
"Carry on, please."
"I need to cook a story to carry on."
"Then spin a story. That's the job of your kind, writers."
"Now, I'm sure, you can understand where we get so many stories from," I replied with the air of a conqueror.
Sarwar Morshed is a Professor at the Department of English, University of Chittagong. His works have appeared, among others, in The Bosphorus Review of Books, The Bombay Literary Magazine, City: Journal of South Asian Literature, Contemporary Indian Literary Review and the Ashvamegh.