Month: February 2013

On Fiction

On Fiction

“Truth is often vastly more stranger than fiction” – EV Lucas, Face on the Wall

I read the story as a kid and this sentence has stuck in my head ever since. Again today I found myself wondering on similar lines. I am a fiction writer. I like telling stories. I like making up things – people and situation. Today, I was wondering does a fiction writer lie for fun?

I have never lied in my life. I don’t like to. A subjective view, of course. I believe it serves no higher purpose. I don’t conceal anything about me either. So, as you would imagine, I am an open book sort of a person. People just need to ask me anything, and I have always told them the truth. Lying does not agree with me. The lengths I would have to go to protect that lie make it absolutely unviable, for me, to lie.

Being secretive is not my thing either. It just makes people suspicious, I believe and they become more nosy than I like. So I just go ahead and tell people what they want to know. I have nothing to hide. Or so I thought up until today.

I realized I am probably more of a liar than anyone of my friends and acquaintances. I lie for fun. I lie when I write. I make up characters, place and people. I write with the authority of a seasoned journalist about life after death, about things that will happen in the future and about spirituality, religion and philosophy.

I have often said and still maintain that even while narrating incidents to friends and family, I embellish, exaggerate. I try and keep the central idea the same. That is why I never tire from repeating. Every time I narrate I take the liberty to tweak some little detail. Add more light to some other. It keeps me and the listeners engaged. It give me joy to entertain with trinkets of my imagination.

I got to wondering how and when did I start making things up. It seemed like we all have a need for a little bit of excitement, a little bit of drama in our lives. Some people get addicted to that and become compulsive liars. There are others like yours truly who become compulsive writers. We all need a dose of drama in our lives. It’s a perfect foil for the drudgery, mundane and monotonous nature of our lives. There are people who steal, cheat just for that bit of adrenalin. It keeps us going.

I’ll close with a quote from self – “All good stories need embellishment.”

Javier – Who loved to live, to live on love

Javier – Who loved to live, to live on love

This is the story of our friend Javier, who was not like us. He had a zeal for life, unlike the rest of us. We were all tired, fatigued and always viewed life with an iota, or more, of distrust. We never could understand what life brings and what is in store for us but our lives, the part which had happened by the time we reached where we were, had taught us to be used to the rude shocks that inevitably come along to bring us down from a state of happiness or neutrality. We slept with one eye open, to catch life sneaking around in the shadows at night watching us. Waiting to strike, to deal its hand. But Javier, was a whole another being.

He loved to live, as we have already established. He was happiest when he was awake, and regretted when he was too tired to stay up. He wanted to embrace life and as many moments as he could. He said that what he’ll be left with are memories, at the end of it all and he did not want to spend any time sleeping, which was the time he added nothing to his bag of memories. He traveled the world, refusing to work like the rest of us. Refusing to be brought down by life.

We all believed he could afford to do so because he was never hungry. Not, at least, in the way rest of us were. He never ate a solid meal, he didn’t have to. For the longest time we wondered, how did he manage to stay alive and then one day over lunch, well when we were all having lunch and he was just sitting with us, we decided to ask him, and this is what he told us.

I live on love. I know you would find it hard to believe, but when I see love around it nourishes me, the way carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals work for you. It’s my food, Javier told us as normally as he one would talk about a game of cricket last night. Nonchalant, yes that’s the word that describes it. Matter-of-factly.

But how is it possible? we asked him, hoping to wrench the truth out of him or to catch if he was pulling a fast one, as the tweeting kids today say, on us. Well that’s just how it is, I got no say in all this because my parents or whoever created me did not ask my opinion on how things should be, Javier told us. Well you have a point there, we told him not able to refute the plain and sound logic in his argument. But do you ever feel hunger? Yes, I do, all the time, Love is not that easy to find, you see. That is why I must keep traveling, in search of love, Javier was solemn, Does this love have to be directed towards you? Or does it work if you just see people sharing love, we had so many questions but we tried to do it as lovingly as possible so that, we could finally feel, as if he was also having lunch with us.

It works better, or should I say tastes better maybe?, when the love is directed towards me, but it works well when I see it between other people, between animals, in nature, It feeds me and I feel healthy and bright I fill out and my mater says it makes me look handsome, at least as handsome as one can look within the constraints defined by the creator, you see. We saw, we were beginning to understand. But there was no way the questions were going to end with beginning of understanding, this is usually the moment when the biggest and most pertinent questions start coming, So what happens when you don’t find love, when someone hurts you or you see hatred around?

Well, the changes are slow and subtle in the beginning, like a gradual delta decline that is hard to notice in the beginning, but when it becomes too much the changes are noticeable, I start shriveling up, or at least that’s how pater put it when he finally understood what was happening. The shine in my eyes starts to recede, the glow in my skin goes away, and that is what gives me that ‘shriveled up’ look that we discussed a moment ago. It weighs on my shoulders, as if I were carrying a physical burden, as if I was having a hard time lifting myself up, I slouch, much to maters dismay, And what I hate the worst is that I am unable to smile, it hurts me to try and laugh or smile, I feel like someone normal would feel if they were starving, yes, that’s right, I think I starve for love.

None of us spoke a whole lot after that, we were all silent, thinking about what our special friend had just told us, wondering if were very different from him. Love, through its presence or absence, has always been felt by us in the same way, hasn’t it? It’s love that buoys us, and the lack of it that makes us triste, that takes away the shine from our eyes and smiles from our faces. With love, for love we can do anything, Javier’s life seemed to be telling us. But without it, we shrivel up, as Javier’s papa told him.

Javier died on December 16, 2012. Doctors said he died of starvation. When all the love was sucked up from the world and clouds covered the sky, so that we don’t see that even the sun refuses to rise and shine. We were all engulfed with darkness that will stay with us forever, until we change and learn to love. We all love to live, well most of us do and Javier did love that more than anything else, but from Javier we need to learn that we live on love, that we depend on it, more than anything else.