Fictional Reality

A small tinge of fiction within reality. ( More in the footer )

When Myths Touch Your Soul

This post is entirely about a book, Neil gaiman’s Norse Mythology. Not a review, but just the feelings that came after reading the book. This is going to be a long one. Ignore the text if you’re not fond of reading long texts and descriptions, but at your own loss.

Before I start saying anything about this book, I must confess that I read any book from cover to cover. From its index to glossary, I read everything. Be it a storybook, fiction or fantasy or thriller or a textbook even.

There are not many books that will offer you something unusual in the preface or in the foreword itself. And there are some, that are exceptions. Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology falls in the second category. I picked the book up at around 8 A.M in the morning and started reading the introduction… And lost the track of time and the count when I realized an hour later that I have read and reread the introduction itself 3 times in a row.

Thereafter, I started turning the pages. Gaiman introduced The all-father Odin, the mighty Thor, and the treacherous Loki as the key players in the mythical universe of the warrior race known to us as the Vikings. Might mislead you to believe that Norse mythology revolves around these three characters, but that’s not the case.
I have often heard people say that Gaiman has the most consistent writing style and it follows a pattern that it has the ability to easily attract the attention of the reader… But, I beg to differ. It’s not the writing style of Gaiman. It’s the person himself. Gaiman is not just a writer, rather a crafty storyteller who knows what he is doing.

I remember reading one of Gaiman’s short fictions- A Study in Emerald- the great detective Sherlock Holmes met the universe of H. P Lovecraft, that is full of mystery and horror and unreal. Gaiman writes the story in rather a manner that would make you feel both the Lovecraft-ian thrill and the classic Holmes adventure as it feels when you read the study in scarlet probably the first time. And again, when you read Stardust, the pace, the tempo and the style changes. Then what makes reading Gaiman’s works so pleasing? What makes the stories to grab your senses and attention in a way that you can not think about putting down the book before you have finished it?

No. Gaiman’s writing style varies and it changes according to the need of the story. It changes according to your pace. The language is used in a way that at some moment you can actually guess what the author was thinking, and at times you can feel exactly what the author was feeling, all the while having your own freedom to interpret the text, the messages in a way that you can relate to. I guess that’s where lies the success of a good storyteller.
My interest in myths and folklore is age old. Been reading them when I was just a naive brat, and listening to them even before that. Norse mythology and its stories weren’t new to me. As I grew up, I discovered works like Ragnarok by none other than A. S Byatt and enjoyed that equally. And reading Gaiman’s Norse Mythology somehow completes the circle.

It shows Norse gods as not gods, but as humans, humans with feelings and good side and bad side. Odin’s wiser side and selfishness together with his compassion when he deals with Loki’s children. The unexpected and unnatural bond between him and Hel, Gaiman explained that bond with ease and that’s one among the best parts of the book. Thor is not just a mighty hero, but at times stupid and a person who oversimplifies things and a hothead. And Loki. Oh! How he portrayed Loki is a sheer piece of brilliance. You resent him and at the same time, you admire his intelligence and a childlike attitude full of boasting and mischievous traits. I used to dislike Loki for all the troubles he had created. But not now. You love him and you hate him. And you realize that no person is all good or all bad. Everyone has two sides and Loki was not an exception. Nor were the other gods. Tyr must mention Tyr, who used to adore Loki’s second child-Fenrir born from the union of Loki and Angrboda, Fenrir was not some wild wolf. He was Tyr’s cousin and a friend, or at least could have been… Only if the conspiration of the gods born from their fear could be avoided. The loss, the pain, and the foolhardiness it’s all there in Norse mythology.

Gaiman’s more descriptive works such as The American Gods gets boring at times in the middle of a reading, and to be honest American Gods is a book I have not been able to finish, but that’s a con you won’t find in Norse Mythology. Picked it up, finished it and started writing this while the memory is still fresh, cherishing the stories told with a passion that only someone with a deep love for myths and folklore would be able to understand.

No matter who you are, how old are you at this age, what language you speak or comfortable with, I would insist you heartily to grab a copy of this book and read it from cover to cover as I did. You will not get disappointed, that’s a promise.
As for me, I will do as Gaiman insists in his introduction. Make the stories my own and re-tell them to anyone who is willing to listen. After all, that’s the point of reading good stories, isn’t it?


Runaway Childhood

The drops of liquid were slowly dripping from the broken ceiling. Due to a gloomy weather outside, the room was dimly lit with only a single candle at the far end, beside the locked door. The apparently colorless liquid kept on dripping from above. Slowly forming a pool on the floor. Some amount of the gathered liquid was flowing towards the inclined side of the floor. Towards the little girl.

The little girl was sleeping. Her hands tied behind her back. Her face whitened. Signs of tiredness was there and a hint of unnatural aging was slowly becoming prominent on her skin. While age lines were forming on her skin within mere seconds, her heart beat also increased. Her veins under her skin were so prominent, that if there was sufficient amount of light, one could see, that her veins are pulsing at an abnormally high rate. As if they would burst out and splatter blood in all direction in any moment. Yet, there was a peaceful smile etched on her face.

The child was walking in small strides. She was already late for her school. Her father was holding her hand, softly yet in a firm grip so that she doesn’t fall. Despite the alacrity in her movement, she was quite contained. Her expressions lucid, calm and she was asking questions.

Child: Why do we study dad?

The dad was smiling. He was used to such questions. Especially on such moments, when she used to feel an amount of stress due to any unforeseen reason apparently. He knew, that this was her way of coping up with the situation. Thus, he answered, in a way to make her think, to arrive at conclusions on her own.

Dad: So that you can know.
Child: Know what?
Dad: What you’re weak at.

The child stayed silent for a while. After a few paces, she again asked. Rapidly throwing a few questions at her dad.

Child: What do I do after that? Why am I weak? Weakness is bad, right dad?

By the time she came up with her questions, they had already reached the school. So, the dad got down on his knees. Looked at her eyes, and answered with a smile: “You make yourself better than you were before knowing your weaknesses. Everyone’s weak at some point my dear, it is not bad. It’s what makes us enable to decide which steps to take and which are to be avoided. That helps us to overcome some disasters and odds in certain points of time.”

The child stood there, it took a while for her to let her dad’s words sink in. And then, she hugged him and ran towards her class with a joyous smile on her face.

Diana was having a bad day in her office. It was, as usual, her boss was being over friendly, trying to flirt out with her. At the same time, she was involved in a bitter argument with her project leader. Her private life was not going as well she had planned. Misunderstandings were increasing and the amount of time spent in a relation was decreasing at equal rates. Her boyfriend was there, only to remind her about things what she actually missed and wanted. That did not help in any way, not in a positive way at least. She exhaled a deep sigh of utter disgust and frustration and forced her concentration back on her pending task. Within a few moments, she was engulfed under the huge amount of paperwork. Analyzing the market behavior, doing the thing at which she did best.

The visions of a child playing in the field, or the young girl running towards her parents through a flowery field slowly lay dormant. As she indulged herself more into her work, the scenes dissolved into nothingness as if they were mere sprinkles of imagination. Some figments from thoughts of a nonexistent being, her visions moved away from her mind. All that was left there was some dry calculations and complex reports which had no essence of life in them.
The child was tired after a long day of school. Yet, the sign of a refreshed flowery freshness was present in her demeanor. It did not take any effort, she was like that naturally. And slowly she strode towards her home, in a rhythmic pace. Neither running nor walking, but in fluid and quick paces. She needed to get to her home before the storm.
She did not know what actually would have happened on any other day. She was not tensed, as it was not in her nature. Yet, when she felt the breeze getting chiller in a rapid manner, and the force of the wind suddenly became very strong with a hint of wetness, which signaled for a hefty cloudburst momentarily. Then, she started to run, in a desperate attempt to reach her home before being swept by the storm. The sky was getting roofed by dark clouds. The surroundings became dark, the daylight suddenly seemed to have been extinguished by some unnatural force.

Suddenly, she saw an elderly woman. Dressed in a black business suit, signaling the child to follow her. The child, confused and at the same time in a hope to get settled for a while till the storm passed, followed her. Together they entered an old building. The only source of light was coming from the single candle beside the entrance. The building was very old, and its ceiling was broken. Yet, it was the best place as a shelter at the present moment. The child called the woman, but could not find or see her. Instead, she heard a calm voice, “Stay here, till the storm passes, you’re too weak to get out in there”. She tried protesting, as she did not think that she was weak, but no more response came. She banged the door through which she had entered, but it was bolted shut. At that very moment, she felt somebody gripping her tightly from behind. A dark shadow engulfing her entire body, her hands were tied behind her back. She could not protest or stop the person or thing which was assaulting her. All she could do was to feel all of her strength leaving her body. And then, everything went blank, as she lay there. She could only sense that the rain has finally begun to fall.

Diana got up from her chair. Came outside of her cubicle. It was just another tiring day, but today she felt somewhat different. The entire day her past memories, the days of being a happy child came back to her in bits and pieces. And, each time those memories surfaced, she pushed them back. She could not afford to be nostalgic or getting lost in the reminiscence of something which she had buried a long time ago under a rubble of old memories and bittersweet experiences. Though she was trying hard to convince herself, convince that she did the right thing, she felt an emptiness growing inside her stomach and slowly engulfing her completely. She forced herself to stay strong. She tried to remember the lessons, of not being weak and to survive. With a determination beyond imagination, she drove her car back to the apartment where she lived.

She took small steps and climbed the staircase. Opened the door and jumped straight into her bed. She could not stop it anymore and busted out. Sobbing silently, tears flowing down her cheeks, wetting the pillow, the bed and herself. As she was lying face down, she could not see the skylight above her. It was raining.

The child slowly woke up. The signs of aging were beginning to disappear. She saw a streak of the liquid flowing, coming towards her. She tried to move her head, but she could not, due to the weakness. She could see the sky through the broken ceiling now. The rain had finally stopped. The sky was beginning to get clear. She did not know for how long she had been observing the sky, as she suddenly felt a salty taste in her mouth. The flowing thick liquid had touched her mouth. She instantly recognized the taste of tears. At the same moment realized that her hands were not tied anymore.

She stood up. Took firm stepped towards the door. Opened it, and stepped outside, once again into the open world with a smile on her face.

Cliched Fairy Tale

“Once upon a time, in a distant land far, faraway, there lived a king. He had a little daughter, his loving princess. She was an apple of his eyes. He loved her and gave her everything she asked for. From toys to clothes, even some playmates from foreign lands. And… “

While reading from the small book made of palm leaves, the storyteller suddenly screamed, “Enough of this clichéd beginnings and tragic ends to these fairy tales full of nuisance and melodrama” in the state of agitation, his temples were throbbing, the veins of his throat were pulsing and getting prominent in a scary way, as much as it was weird but still it seemed that his veins would pop out from underneath the skin. Gasping heavily for some air, he threw the book into the fireplace.

The leaves were burning, and a thick black smoke was coiling from the ashes of the age old book. The child, to whom the storyteller was narrating the story, just sit there, flabbergasted by the sudden turn of events. He wanted to pick the book up but knew that he could not. All he could do was to wait… and watch his favorite stories to get burned slowly in the all-consuming fire.

In his small mind, he could not portray it, but what he thought summed up to this, that all the different universes stored in the pages of that book are dissolving into the thick black smoke. One by one. Their existence in nature is getting obviated one by one, or in a random manner. As an observer, he did not even know how it was affecting the stories or those characters who lived in them.

The storyteller, however, was a bit calmed down, seeing the book being burned was acting like an anesthetic to him. He drank some water and laughed in a muffled voice. His primary work done, now he can educate the child further.

He started asking questions, and the child replied.

Storyteller- Do you know why I burned the book?
Child- I don’t know. It was a good book. Why did you?
Storyteller- It contained lies, falls hopes and misleading wisdom about love.
Child- What is the truth then?
Storyteller- Did you ever thought that I could do such a horrible and disgusting thing? Perform such a vile act of burning a book?
Child- No. Why did you? Are you a bad man? Are you ill?

As they were continuing their conversation, something weird was happening in a distant land. A land far faraway.

The king was riding his favorite horse. With his daughter in his lap. The horse was cantering and suddenly it frowned. With a jerk, it tried to run in an opposite direction. The kind quickly acted as his reflexes took over. He slowly patted the horse, rubbing his tresses. He let the horse rest for a while. He let him eat from a nearby patch of grasses, he let him drink from a nearby lake. All the while taking constant care of the horse and at the same time putting a protective eye over his daughter. The little girl, however, was neither afraid nor shocked. She sat on the back of the horse and keenly observed everything which was being unfolded in front of her eyes.

Suddenly, the king smelled something odd. He instantly recognized the smell of wildfire. He gazed towards the greenish horizon and watched a black smoke engulfing the entire forest, slowly. The smoke was coiling, but unlike any other wildfire this was not burning bright. Neither there was any heat in the environment. Only the smoke coiling and engulfing the surroundings in a steady manner. And, as it was thickening, the burning smell also amplified. Inducing an instant nauseating effect.

The king swiftly got back up on his horse and rode back to his palace. He quickly went to the nearest tower and climbed it. What he saw made him speechless, he even forgot that he was holding his daughter on his lap, and as he stood there, he saw the black smoke has engulfed the boundaries of his kingdom. The blue sky existed as just a small patch of grayish blue overhead, and everything else was covered in the thick black smoke.

Storyteller – Laughing hard. “No! I am not a bad man.” He said, “I am just unpredictable”. He paused. Looked into the eyes of the child, and said in a very calm, baritone voice, “Everyone is, child”.
Child- Is it bad? Is it a sickness?

Storyteller- No. It is normal. It is how we were made. It is our habit.
Child- But you never burned any books before. Why today?
Storyteller- Sometimes we lose control, we give away our conscience to our dark desires. Often, to get a pleasure of a different kind.
Child- Why did not I stop you from doing so?
Storyteller- You read those fairy tales. Tell me what should have happened in a fairytale?
Child- A prince in a shining armor would have stopped you from doing the bad thing?
Storyteller- Yes, but this is not a story. What can YOU do?

The child stops asking. He thinks. He says to himself, “everyone is unpredictable”.

Slowly the child walks. He walks towards the fire. Picks up the jug of water and pours all of it’s contains over the burning fire. He does not wait for the fire to get doused properly. He picks up the book and rubs away the burnt ashes with his bare hands. His hands get charred. But he does not flinch. He smiles, as his back is turned towards the storyteller, the storyteller also smiles. He leaves the room, with another book in his hand, probably to find another home.

The king is watching helplessly, as his kingdom is getting immersed in a growing darkness. People are driven mad in panic. And, he could do nothing to help them. The princess, however, was as calm as she was before. Her eyes were fixed on the small grayish blue patch of the sky, the only visible light which was coming from that portion.

She smiled in a gleeful manner. The small patch of the sky suddenly became cloudy and at the same time, bright light was illuminating from the very same spot. The rain came down like, how a bunch of happy sparrows glides towards the ground when they see rice grains. As it rained, the black smoke dissolved into nothingness, slowly. And a smell of new flowery sensation filled the atmosphere with a sense of rejuvenation.

Date with Nature

The similarity between a broken bridge and a hand painted wall can be striking to an uneasy eye. For the seasoned observers, it’s the pattern of all what’s beautiful.
Just like how they find similarities between the taste of charred potatoes and the smell of lemon grass.
More often, there’s nothing distinguishable about the smell of burnt diesel coming out from an old Bentley or the dense smog surrounding the slums of workers from the nearby factory.
Occasionally, the wildfire and the stony riverbed seems so similar. In a way that human sense cannot comprehend. Yet, there exists some souls, souls with uncanny perceptions and capable intelligent interpretation of all those seemingly self-contradictory mundane things. Nature at some point becomes a playground of emotions for them. That’s where the story starts.

Zoya was getting ready for the ceremony. The socialist ritual which will officially grant her the status of someone’s wife. She was a bit skeptical and indifferent as well about this marriage. It’s not that she did not want to get married or have a family of her own, but she never felt the need of another human being in her life to complete her. She has always felt complete and self-complimented whenever she was alone and out within nature itself. It was the jungles and the rivers, which called out to her. It was the broken buildings and coarse paddy fields towards which she felt an attachment. The rain was like a best friend and the bonfires during winter were like her lovers. Lovers for whose warmth she had to linger for a while but was not allowed to touch, out of the fear that her uncontrollable desire for love would and might burn her to the ground. During the marriage ceremony, she was thinking all these and a dreamy knot was hovering within her stomach as she was taking the rounds around the ceremonial fire and taking the oaths along with her husband. She did not realize what it was, but she liked it when the man held her hands tightly and squeezed it gently to assure her, the knot in her stomach felt heavier. She thought of it to be love.

It’s not that Zoya did not know what love is. She knew how her mother used to love her when she was a child. Or how she used to love playing with other children of her age when she was young. Yet, she knew that all those were different kinds of love. Her mother’s love came from a caring and serene attitude while her love for playing games came from a sense of having fun. Among those moments, Zoya, however, was able to pick out one or two moments. Those moments when she was sick and left alone by her playmates. She used to stay inside her neat and tiny room and watch the sky through the window. Those moments gave her a different kind of togetherness with something larger than herself. Somehow she felt distinctly sober even in illness and was able to relish the beautiful patterns in the clouds. In a way, love for Zoya was always about completeness and peace.

Continue reading “Date with Nature”

Castiel’s Next Journey

They say pictures speak louder than words. However, the truth value of the statement is highly relative and depends on the perspective of the user. In the following sequence of some randomly selected images, I am simply trying to convey a message. You, as a viewer, have the full freedom of interpretation according to your own free will and point of view. I would just be glad to know your thoughts. feel free to leave any kind of remarks, even if it is a negative one, I really do not mind that, since it will only help me to improve.

P.S: Some of the images are heavily cross processed to convey a particular mood. If cross processing is not your cup of tea, I will completely understand your disapproval of it and know that you are a puritan by heart. Thank you. Happy viewing.

Once again, feel free to leave your remarks.

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Sam’s Lesson


Figments Of Imagination

Talking hats, flying snitches, gurgling Butter beer, Skiving Snackboxes were all a mystery to me

Until I met the scarred boy under the stairs!

He looked at me with his mother’s eyes in round glasses, while rackets of owl rained the house with fishy letters.

Then came knocking the giant with a heart of a bear

That grew tails on greedy boys, and gifted cakes to the kind ones.

Goblins with degrees in banking, with vaults full of gold

And a hidden market behind the old bricked walls!

A station with a quarter at the end

A trolley of goods vanishing into the bricked bend!

Black robed students and swishing wands

A thousand candles in the Great Hall!

An old robed man with flowing white beard

His love for chocolates and conquests of absolution,

His booming voice and an endearing trust in love.

A secret gift of super fast Nimbus…

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Damyanti Biswas is an author, blogger, animal-lover, spiritualist. Her work is represented by Ed Wilson from the Johnson & Alcock agency. When not pottering about with her plants or her aquariums, you can find her nose deep in a book, or baking up a storm.

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