I have always thought of storytelling as an art. An art of depicting emotions beautifully and hypnotically through one’s actions and words that the listener finds himself as a part of the story being told. It is an art of converting a rather boring story into a fairy tale, and sometimes even more. It is an art of picking a story lying in a stinking drain under the footpath and placing it in the center of the temple for readers to worship. It is an art which he boasted about possessing, until he realized the truth.
When I first bumped into him, about two and a half years ago, he presented himself as a storyteller. He had lots of stories to tell, mostly about his own life. Actually, that is what most of the storytellers do. They pick an incident from their own life, dent and paint it a bit, and represent it to the world, sometimes as an inspiration, and a lesson at others. Must I say he was brave? Must I say he was comic? Well, he was everything a storyteller should be.
It so happened during the course of two and a half years of our friendship, as it happens with all the friendships in life, we began to lose attraction among each other. He used to respect me when he came to know me because he liked what I was doing with my life at that moment, though whatever I was doing was something I did not heartily want to. Don’t we all come across the same situations during our lives when we are forced to follow a path for the sake of people around us, when we are given the knife of logic to murder our dreams and aspirations? Those were the eventful years of my life when I was making lot of friends as well as good impression on them.
Within few weeks, he topped above all the friends I had recently made. There was a spark in him, a brilliant sense of humor, a perspective of seeing things as I saw them. I began to like him very much and the friendship blossomed. We planned to do several things in life together, writing a book was one of them. He still has to provide me with the synopsis of the last few chapters but the problem is that we do not talk about it at all nowadays. Actually, we do not talk at all. Have the priorities changed? I do not think so. I am still writing a couple thousand words everyday. I am close to achieving my dream but I feel bad about another dream, a dream that was ours, a dream that originated out of thin air while we were making fun of a colleague.
Ideas have a habit of behaving like fireflies, twinkling around us in a herd and leaving the choice on us to catch the one we can hold on to. I know we had a great idea which could be turned into a book. Time does not matter while writing a book, attitude does. I believed my storyteller friend would stand by me and together we will achieve our common ambition, to see our names printed as authors of a bestselling book.
Who is a storyteller? What is his life’s purpose?
People say telling stories is not a very bright way to live life. Not many writers live a contented and satisfactory life. Our grandparents have been telling us stories of their childhood, their friends, their successes and failures all their lives. In that sense, each one of us is a storyteller. Every day brings tens of stories for us to tell to others. All sorts of stories are floating in the consciousness all around us. Grab one and start telling it. Make an attempt to tell a story and you will feel a path emerging ahead of you, follow it without doubt and you will end up telling a story, good or bad depends on how imaginative you are. When you tell a beautiful story, you become a beautiful storyteller. A friend once told me that a story has its own destiny. You can always choose how to begin a story, or how to end a story, but a story, once started, follows a path of its own. All you can do is watch your thoughts traveling from one direction to another while a completely different story takes shape in front of you.
You can imagine a central character in your story that does not hurt people’s feelings but when you began to write the story, the character develops on its own and it begins to do things as it seems fit. The character gets separated from you; you have no control over it anymore. That moment is the real test of a storyteller. For a moment, think of everyone you know as a character in astory. Take your father as an example. Ah, forget it; take my father as an example.
I wouldn’t have typed these words if my father hadn’t taken the pain to bring me into this world. I owe him my existence. To be truthful, my existence has no importance for me, but there are people who see me as an integral part of their lives. They too owe it to my father. My father, therefore, has done a good job and only good people do good job like raising a family, bad people burn the Jews.
My father has a family. He provides for it. He tries his best to take care of it, every father does. The beauty of the character of a father is that we, as writers or storytellers, cannot part ourselves from the reality, not even when we imagine a situation. The storytellers with good fathers end up imagining fathers in their stories that are good and vice versa. Then, on the other hand, my father drinks, which is a very bad habit. He does not talk to me for months; he talks nonsense when he gets angry, abuses everyone in the family when he is out of his mind and very recently he beat me up. Now, if I tell someone only about his negative habits, he becomes a bad man in their imagination.
But what if a person who had a good social image starts doing things he wasn’t expected to. That’s where my storyteller friend couldn’t cope up with me. I know my storyteller friend was afraid to sail the unknown territory. Mind has a problem letting go. Imagination cannot be put under a limit and unlimited imagination frightens people. If you could share with your parents all that you imagine, they would surely lock you up in a room, or even better, marry you off.
A couple of weeks ago, we had a conversation. I don’t remember much of it because most of the time I am not myself but one of my characters. During the conversation, he mentioned that he does not see himself as an established writer anymore. To tell you all the truth, I felt something had broken inside my chest. There was a sudden pain and it is still there. I understood that very moment that the idea we had struck last year would never turn real. I understood I was talking to a dead man who was talking about everything else other than his personal dreams.
He has accepted failure. But even in his failure, he has left me with an experience. I have decided to part ways with him. This is the precise moment when we can say goodbye to each other without causing more harm to each other’s feelings. And as I write these last words about his existence that once decorated my life, I am left with yet another story to tell people and the story starts as follows:
Once upon a time, there was a storyteller…