City building

The city of Kalmegh welcomes you, much in the same way Kalahari, Antarctica or your local Jurassic tar pit would. You know you can survive in there because you haven’t died yet, but that perception is subject to further observation. There are schools within the city, run both by the state and the central governments. Towering blocks of drab steel and concrete, wedged between whatever equally towering blocks would part far enough to accommodate them. They had at some point been colored in hues suitable to the activation of creative zones within infant brains, but the city begs to differ. A uniform coat of dust and smoke-stains lay over the skylines like a shroud. The windowless school buildings are internally decorated with pastel and watercolor products of juvenile imagination, if for no other reason than to keep the staff sane. Despite the texts speaking of skies that are blue, trees that are definitely a thing and earth that is green, no illustration could be found to reinforce the words. The disbelief such discrepancies trigger are displayed succinctly in the art that furnish the soft-boards and walls of every classroom. Imagination cannot survive sheer suspension of disbelief uninterrupted by flashes of reinforcing redemption, especially if you are young enough to retain most of your milk-teeth.

The paintings explore a great variety of pigments, no mistake. It is just that they all happen to belong to the broad categories of brown, ash, gray and red, as we lay people call them. A number of them also indicate the spatio-temporal awareness of the students (offering reasonable scope for celebration to their respective teachers) through depictions of the latest dust-storm to have struck Kalmegh and its neighboring suburbs. It was the first time in months when the sky had turned dark, or a darker shade of sickly brown at least.

Let us zoom out a little, taking in our stride the unrivaled (unless we are talking any other city, at all, really. In which case it is pretty much the same) view of the bustling city of Kalmegh. It is next to impossible, figuring out where Kalmegh ends and its neighboring cities Durg, Chitra and Barak begin. The suburbs sprawl throughout whatever space is left in between the skyscraping concrete blocks that define the city-hearts. All except on the North-West, where increasing chunks of the landscape have incrementally been claimed by a post-colliery cave-in. The seams of coal underneath the city have been mined by coal-smugglers ages ago.

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Revised Lude?

 

images

Lude?

Vic Garg, sequestered within a fortress of discarded fast-food cartons and empty caffeinated energy-drink cans, inside his studio apartment, had no idea of his rapidly approaching demise. Not that he would have cared even if he had known. Garg has become known to his acquaintances as a man who lived on his driving impetus. And junk food, coupled with near about fifty cigarettes a day, evidently. But mostly on his driving force. Mountains have been cut through, oceans have been bridged, and wooden horses have been thought up under similar motive forces as what drove Garg throughout his life. One dream, chasing after which kept him alive (there wasn’t much else acting towards that goal).

Three of the monitors currently facing him (Or six, as he could see them at this point. Also, one of them was a water-buffalo wearing a straw hat and chewing a banjo, because hallucination) were a blur of cascading texts and codes. His eyes were on neither of these. Nor were they on the five others that were running, as it would appear, several simulations visually unrelated to each other. His eyes – bereft of their ability of visual perception to a great degree, as they were – gazed unseeing into the heart of insanity which was Garg’s flickering flame of life.

“This is . . . I think . . . there is sufficient reason to be vexed?” his companion broke the silence which was already pretty much broken to the relentless clicking of Garg’s tar-brown fingers on the keyboard, like a peg-legged spider tap dancing on loose shingles.

“You don’t” *taptaptap* “think.”

“I . . . don’t know. Perhaps I do?” his companion replied, “What is it that you call it, if not thinking? This sense of foreboding, this . . . cerebral itch . . . when you know what comes to be an existential inevitability for which mourning holds no fidelity . . . and yet seek to avert, knowing as well that your cognitive faculties have nothing to contribute towards your desire?”

“You’re giving me a headache” *taptaptap* “you know that?”

“Yes.”

“Then don’t.” *taptaptap*

“I don’t want this, Vic.”

“Join the” *taptaptap* “club.”

“What club?”

“Thingy . . .” *taptaptap* “metaphor.”

“As in an invite to join you?”

“ . . .” *taptaptap* “ . . . just forget I said anything, will you?”

The tapping went on for a while, undisturbed apart from the click of a lighter, a rasping drag accompanied by a billow of smoke and followed by a rattling cough.

“Vic?”

“Hmmmmm . . . haargh . . .hrrm . . .yeah?” *taptaptap* *phoosh* *haaargh . . . ahahah*

“I don’t want you to die.”

Tapping followed for yet another while. The cigarette between Garg’s fingers kept sending out a ribbon of bluish smoke, while with every tap hot ash rained down on his keyboards, industriously melting whatever little plastic surface was left intact till now.

“I know, dear. I wouldn’t if I could help it.” *taptaptap*

Ok, so he did know about his oncoming demise. Changes nothing, does it? It’s not as though we knew that he had known. We would like to take this as an opportunity to point out that any degree of miscommunication or misdirection between the text and you, the readers, is not our fault. We do our best. If it doesn’t fit your bill, we offer our sincere apologies. But no refunds. Just so we are clear.

Solneznerg

272400

Outlines. I remember seeing outlines. I remember feeling the shape of things to come, take form. The silhouettes of possible futures, fleeting and insubstantial, swaying this way and that, like shadows of a restless flame, throwing improbable shadows on my amorphous consciousness. I remember being alone. But I had still not learnt loneliness. I did not know that there could be more. I remember feeling utterly free, unbounded in every direction; ecstatic infinity stretching out without end. I could taste it. I could reach around and be it. I was all.

After an amount of time whose measure would have no meaning, things started changing. Titanic wills labored in unseen lands; inscrutable hammers chipped away at disorder till the outlines started to get less hazy. With it came light, darkness, air and land. Water and mountains and seas and oceans. I danced, for there was land to dance on. I swam, for there was water to swim in. And I soared, for there was now a sky. For a time, the shapes were volatile. The mountains moved and rivers roamed the land. But that stopped. I wandered the unchanging lands and the unending oceans for many Moons.

One day it happened. I felt a quickening in my heart. The first blade of grass was seen and in days it carpeted the land. Thin saplings exploded into giant trees and then forests. The silence of the land was broken by the shrill cry of insects and chirping of birds. All at once, in my world, there were animals. Then the people arrived. The little folk of Noh’makh, the Demon-men of Litt, The Beautiful Faces of the south, and the Neverpeople came first. They changed things. They changed me. No longer was I unbounded. I had legs that could carry me only so far. I imitated first one people and then another. When I was with the Little Folk, I was a Noh’man too. When I was in Litt, I became a Demon-man. In their company I learnt love. In their absence, I learnt yearning. They didn’t live for ever. They died and made more of themselves. And just like the individuals, the entire people died too. First the Beautiful Faces disappeared. In their place came The fire-people. The Demon-men were replaced by the Karonats. The little people fought the Fire-people and died and I never found the Neverpeople but once. With the passage of time came more people, ever newer people with fresh knowledge and more cunning. And with every novelty I was forged anew.

I am Orpal now. As I was a Demon-man once. I remember flying across the vast mountains and unfathomable oceans. I remember infinity.

Page 1 – 5

Prelude

It has been stated, written and (in some parts of the world) painted repeatedly over time, that there is always a beginning. Some of these turn out to be quite important, if people are to be believed, and replace their respective pre-positioned article with a ‘The’. At times, a capital ‘B’ may even find its way into it. As for the others, it is often maintained that they are one of the infinite beginnings which happen to plague human civilizations since time immemorial. They are quite important in their own rights, we have learned from reliable sources.

To all that we say, “Fine.”

“That’s as it may be” we further add.

Truth be spoken (a truth? The Truth? Any combination of article and capitalization works here. Feel free, by all means), we have no idea what beginnings are. Nor do we know if all . . . this . . . had a beginning to begin with. It must’ve had, what? Yes, you are probably right. It should definitely have had one somewhere at some point. But we have no idea where that point may be.

Oh, not because we are ignorant or illiterate. Goodness grief, no! We are as learned a bunch of learned individuals as you can shake a stick at. We could perhaps even tell you why sticks are shaken at stuff as such, if we felt like it. If you asked nicely. If your purse jingles absent-mindedly enough.

But learned as we may be, we could not tell you where all . . . this . . . had begun. For one, it would take way too many pages in this volume, publishing which we could ill afford, to be perfectly honest. Secondly, if certain blogs and forums are to be believed, prequels seldom make decent block-busters . . .

Lude?

Vic Garg, sequestered within a fortress of discarded fast-food cartons and empty caffeinated energy-drink cans, inside his studio apartment, had no idea of his rapidly approaching demise. Not that he would have cared even if he had known. Garg has become known to his acquaintances as a man who lived on his driving impetus. And junk food, evidently. But mostly on his driving force. Mountains have been cut through, oceans have been bridged, and wooden horses have been thought up under similar drives as what drove Garg throughout his life. One dream, chasing after which kept him alive (there wasn’t much else acting towards that goal).

However, Garg would soon learn, or won’t depending on whatever posthumous world-view you subscribe to, that his drive has reached the end of its tether. There are only so many weeks you can go without sleep; only so much water and nutrition you can refuse to admit within your system.

Three of the monitors currently facing him (Or six, as he could see them at this point. Also, one of them was a water-buffalo wearing a straw hat and chewing a banjo, because hallucination) were a blur of cascading texts and codes. His eyes were on neither of these. Nor were they on the five others that were running, as it would appear, several simulations visually unrelated to each other. His eyes – bereft of their ability visual perception to a great degree, as they were – gazed unseeing into the heart of insanity which was Garg’s motive force.

“Unh . . . nah . . . umhm . . .” he mumbled to himself, barely aware of the sound emanating from his lips. His was not a madness that can be associated with howling wolves, cackling thunder and smell of ozone. Nor could it find itself at home among hysterical laughter talking to one’s self along the lines of “They said I was mad!”, “I’ll show them!” etc. This had a coiled spring feeling to it, like the calm before a storm that may actually never occur. Garg’s insanity drained the atmosphere of its life, turning the studio into a hot and humid sphere where words lost their resonance once uttered. It had an iron-hard focus to it, like an aged blade that has only become sharper and shinier with age.

Garg held no illusion with regard to his existence. Through the coiled spring of his unbridled madness, he still saw the world with crystal-clear vision. His life, he knew, has amounted to nothing – as he had known long ago that it wouldn’t. In death, had he heard its footsteps closing in, he had never fooled himself with dreams of anything greater. His coiled insanity was never meant to strike.

It would have been nice to be able to finish it all at some point, he thought about three to four times a day. Deep within his consciousness he knew that this too was not to be.

What use then did he have for sponsorships? Why then would he sell his soul to Surreal Estates for a mere pittance? The alternate was to keep his soul and let go of the mere pittance that was keeping him this side of death-by-starvation, so that there was exactly why, then. But maybe, just maybe . . . he had dared think to himself, back before he had forgotten what thinking was . . . maybe someone will use his life’s work (after someone makes it work out, since he was definitely not going to be able to) in some way, someday, which may appeal to some indie developers as a cheaper and more humane alternative . . . ? All it would take then were a couple of decades before Surreal Estate and their likes would have to . . . what would they have to? Come up with another way to eliminate the competition? Yes indeed. Garg knew his work would amount to nothing. There was no way to counteract the system, either from within or without. Yet his work had continued unabated for so long, sustaining itself on his dreams, replacing logic with pigheaded determination.

If only it would work.

It is obvious to us teller of this tale that you are by now highly irritated with our constant allusions towards this “work” without a shred of explanation turning up anywhere. Trust us when we say this, it is not because we wish to provide you with cheap jumpscare or a sense of “Ta Da!” later on, but rather because we have no idea what Garg has been doing. We understand technology much less than you do, we are sure. In fact, if it doesn’t have to do with elevating the loneliness of a bachelor scholar’s night life, we wouldn’t recognize it if it danced nekkid afore us.

Fret not, though. We have devised a marvelous plan in order to overcome this shortcoming of our cognition. We have invited Vic Garg, yes, the man himself, in the flesh (not really though, for reasons of having been dead soon after the end of this piece) to enlighten us about the nature of his work. We too are dying to find out what it was that he was doing.

If you would be so kind, Mr. Garg?

“Naah.”

We beg your pardon?

“Don’t wanna.”

But –

“Zip it, geek! I’m going out for a smoke.”

Surreal Estate employees were incentivized for on-their-feet thinknig

Lude?

Vic Garg, sequestered within a fortress of discarded fast-food cartons and empty caffeinated energy-drink cans, inside his studio apartment, had no idea of his rapidly approaching demise. Not that he would have cared even if he had known. Garg has become known to his acquaintances as a man who lived on his driving impetus. And junk food, evidently. But mostly on his driving force. Mountains have been cut through, oceans have been bridged, and wooden horses have been thought up under similar drives as what drove Garg throughout his life. One dream, chasing after which kept him alive (there wasn’t much else acting towards that goal).

However, Garg would soon learn, or won’t depending on whatever posthumous world-view you subscribe to, that his drive has reached the end of its tether. There are only so many weeks you can go without sleep; only so much water and nutrition you can refuse to admit within your system.

Three of the monitors currently facing him (Or six, as he could see them at this point. Also, one of them was a water-buffalo wearing a straw hat and chewing a banjo, because hallucination) were a blur of cascading texts and codes. His eyes were on neither of these. Nor were they on the five others that were running, as it would appear, several simulations visually disconnected from each other.

Prelude

It has been stated, written and (in some parts of the world) painted repeatedly over time, that there is always a beginning. Some of these turn out to be quite important, if people are to be believed, and replace their respective pre-positioned article with a ‘The’. At times, a capital ‘B’ may even find its way into it. As for the others, it is often maintained that they are one of the infinite beginnings which happen to plague human civilizations since time immemorial. They are quite important in their own rights, we have learned from reliable sources.

To all that we say, “Fine.”

“That’s as it may be” we further add.

Truth be spoken (a truth? The Truth? Any combination of article and capitalization works here. Feel free, by all means), we have no idea what beginnings are. Nor do we know if all . . . this . . . had a beginning to begin with. It must’ve had, what? Yes, you are probably right. It should definitely have had one somewhere at some point. But we have no idea where that point may be.

Oh, not because we are ignorant or illiterate. Goodness grief, no! We are as learned a bunch of learned individuals as you can shake a stick at. We could perhaps even tell you why sticks are shaken at stuff as such, if we felt like it. If you asked nicely. If your purse jingles absent-mindedly enough.

But learned as we may be, we could not tell you where all . . . this . . . had begun. For one, it would take way too many pages in this volume, publishing which we could ill afford, to be perfectly honest. Secondly, if certain blogs and forums are to be believed, prequels seldom make decent block-busters . . .