Archive for: October, 2016

Under the Rug by Diego Reymondez

Oct 23 2016 Published by under The WiFiles

 

Whenever Grandma begins her lectures on the old days she leaves out everything that interests me. The blemishes, squalor. The embarrassing realities. I’ve read enough about the depressions to guess at what really went down in her daily life.

What’s more, she wants the same from me. Like when she tells me not to talk to my friends about how I’m surviving on a basic income, I recognize she’s pushing some of that ol’ good shame that’s saved her from countless uncomfortable conversations. She’s soaked through with the dissonance of way back in the day when no one worked yet spoke like they did.

She might have worked ten years total between coming of age and now, yet most all her yarns are about work. Maybe I’m interpreting too deep but her only stories I can trust to conform (slightly) to reality come out of things of timeless importance.  In this case, family. I asked her the other day how she met my grand-uncle Charlie. She, of course, sidestepped, “He was a neighbor.” she said.  So I, of course, insisted pressured her past the threshold of humble resistance.

Like all her stories it began with an affirmation of how clean she kept her apartment. “Even back then I liked to keep a tidy space.” she said. This time it was the impossible triangular end of her attic apartment, “You could only clean it by stretching your broom into the junction of the roof and floor.”

What she neglected to mention was the stimulant for her sprouting obsession with tidiness.  The roof’s wood had rotten through and the landlord had laid down layer after layer of economy plaster each time he rented it out. Consequently, it chipped and snowed down at every opportunity.

Then came my great-uncle a-knocking at the door. “I swept up as much as I could on the way to the door, and I slipped it all under the rug because- well, it’s not very important why.”

She may not have wanted to tell me why, but I’m pretty certain that had she told me, it’d be something about how seldom the garbage truck came and how she’d woken up too many mornings to her bags ripped and gleaned of what little scraps they contained by the neighborhood bands of mice, coyotes and raccoons.

At the door, she saw a strange man on the monitor who swayed nervously and ran fingers through his unkempt beard.

I wasn’t too pleased with Grandma’s telling of this part of the story, so I asked my great-uncle Charlie to give his account too. It turns out his version was just as occluding. And since I think the truth is somewhere between their accounts, I put them together:

“Hello?” Grandma called through the door.

“   .” murmured my great-uncle Charlie.

“What?”

“Hey. I said.”

“Oh. Hello.”

“Sorry I didn’t call first. I live across the hall. I would have called. But- my tablet’s dead.”

“And?”

“                                         ”

“I didn’t catch that.”

“Can I use your charge?”

I imagine a long silence here where Grandma mulls her charge as well as her trust for the stranger’s story, and Charlie, eager to receive his “No.” and be on his way, is already shifting down the hallway. But Grandma’s generosity was always a point of pride, a quirk if ever she had one, since in those days it was kin to leprosy. A weakness from a bygone time. With grandeur she opens the door and with magnanimity says, “I suppose you can use my charge. But not too much of it. And do you mind leaving your shoes outside?”

But her heart sank to her butt when he answered, “My water’s been out. There’s not much difference between shoes, socks and feet.”

“I knew he was a dud, right there.” she said to me, “But, I’m too good a heart, I let him in anyhow.”

He stomped his feet in the hall, shook loose what he could, and with a tight smile passed into the room.

“You’re on wind?” she asked.

“Only until I can sort out a few things.”

“As it should be.”

Charlie hung his head to mask the nervous tic, a jutting out of his lower jaw, and said “If you’ll direct me.” and held out his tablet.

“Right over here.” Grandma answered. She took his tablet and plugged it into the extension cord that ran along the edge of the room towards a transformer imbedded in the wall and camouflaged by a frame.

“You’re on wind too, I take it.”

“I am.”

And here, I think I should preface their reactions by saying they lived in the St. Louis block of Sanders houses. In were infamous in the day for never having been retrofitted to handle the failure of the jet stream and therefore prone to collapse. So, when the building grunted to adjust to a sudden gust they exchanged panicked glances they were quick to bridle as the building slinked back into place. They were left with the residual whir of the turbine out the window.

“What a strong house.” affirmed Charlie, shaking plaster out of his hair with another tic.

“The strongest.” confirmed Grandma.

“I’ve read we can withstand simultaneous gusts and earthquake up to a seven on the Richter scale.”

“Well if that doesn’t make you confident, what will?”

“They’re quite sturdy.”

I can feel that awkward pause resonate through the years. Grandma told the story right through, but Charlie smiled to try and diminish the denial of his day.

“Am I right to think I’ve seen you with a daughter?” Grandma asked.

“You are.” said Charlie, “She’s doing great. Back in South Carolina. Where we’re from. Trying to get into growing sunchokes, but there’s no particular farm she’s felt passionate enough to work with.”

“Same story for my cousin Johnny. He went out to Idaho for peas and he was doing well for a while.”

“Then the price shot up. That’s my guess.”

Exactly. So he moved on because he thought it so stubborn of these agriculture types to charge what they do. It’s food, you know?”

“Well, I do. But, they need  to make a profit. Or else why do it?”

“That’s true… you’ve got to applaud how these kids go out and find their future.”

“I do. But at our age….”

Now this is my favorite part of the whole exchange. I mean, they came so damned close to admitting how neither one was doing just that. It was obvious they were the ‘strain’ on the economy they often condemned in conversation.  But it was just as clear that there existed no channel for remedying their situation. Another second of awkward eye holding might have fractured the dissonance into the radical banter that sometimes followed that variety of exchange. Instead, Charlie’s tic broke their eye contact.

He said, “Unemployment’s dropped to a half percent. “

“Is that so?” she said.

“I’m waiting to hear back from the dealership on Lafayette.”

“I can see you selling carts. You’d be great.”

“Wouldn’t I?” he ticced again.

“I’m in the process of getting involved with fusion. My engineering degree must be useful for something down there.”

“Definitely.”

“Yeah.” they both sighed.

“Oh.” said Charlie, “I really hope you get that! You could get the whole building reconnected. We wouldn’t have to rely on-” and to finish his sentence another gust of wind caused the building and neighbors to shiver, and brought on the dizzying whir of the turbine.

“Two in a day!” said Grandma.

“Three days, nothing. Not a breath. I knew this would happen. The moment I go asking for charge, winds, gusts and gales let loose wouldn’t you know it? With my luck, they’re probably showing twisters for the afternoon.”

“Wouldn’t that be something?”

He unplugged his tablet and said “I’ll get out of your hair then.”  then rushed out.

Charlie ended his relating their meeting by asking why I was interested, “It was such an innocuous thing.” he said. Grandma finished by saying “He might have been a wet sandwich, but it was nice to have the company.”

I told them both the same thing. They can act like it was nothing unusual, or pleasant, but I know their sweet breath of mutual relief the instant the door closed. I know they felt dirty at having been so close to begging. And each in their own privacy dashed for their broom to take out their discomfort on the fresh drizzle of plaster.

 

End.

 

Diego Reymondez is a dizzy mess who passed out in New York and woke up in Spain. Since regaining consciousness he’s planted a food forest and now must spend his days making rocket stoves, keeping his brother from dying on intergalactic travels, taking care of animals and generally learning how to nature. Eventually he gets around to writing. He has one upcoming publication in Cleaver Magazine.

 

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The Song of Death by Charles G Chettiar

Oct 02 2016 Published by under The WiFiles

When we speak about dreams, there is a pessimistic shadow always at the back of the head that they may not be achieved. That they will be evey difficult to find. Everyone has a dream, even the most commonplace among us. It was the same with Avaranya Mistry, who wanted to be a PhD in music.

She could create valuable music, had won accolades from her building and friends, but without any commercial success. For that she came to know that her knowledge should be more than plain knitty-gritty and like a child’s. With the confidence which her parents had instilled in her about educaton, she decided to do a PhD in music and as she progressed with it was less than surprised to see her music grow. Side by side she was preparing her own score maybe for a superhit movie, and if rejected there, had plans to bring out her own album.

She knew that academic success didn’t matter much, but was thus surprised to find that the more academically successful she became, she had such vivid and mesmerizing inspirations that she shat and composed. And towards the end of her labors was a terrifically written and beautifully thought score.

Then she saw great talent laid waste. Then she saw real genius entrapped I his own failings. Then she saw what had happened to one of the greatest conductors of an erstwhile opera.

He was locked in his own world unable to get out, to feel the fresh air, see the beautiful rose and scarlet sunset. He by shutting himself in oblivion had bereaved himself of the basic inspiration by which music is composed.

…I hear him on the violin,” said his landlady, a rigorous lady, even though in her early sixties. “Beautiful music. But he only plays when the pangs hit him, it seems.”

Her thoughtful eyes grew graver than usual and she stared at her bespectacled visitor.

“He is not violent, is he?”

“Of course not!” said the landlady. “Otherwise I would have admitted him to the mental hospital long back. You can go & see. He is a very good mannered man.”

The staircase lay in front of her. It creaked and shuddered with her every step. She knocked.

From within came a resounding “Yes”.

He was not a wasted wreck which she had imagined. He was not in any alcoholic stupor. The room was immaculately clean, and not littered with empty liquor bottles. A lone ceiling fan was noisily rotating above a wooden writing table in the centre of the room. A bespectacled man was sitting beside it with a book.

“How can I help you?”

“I am Avaranya Mistry. I am doing a thesis on Mozart’s unrevealed music. For that I want your help.”

“First will you please sit down?”

Avaranya took a seat beside the bed.

“It’s been a long time since I had company. I like it that way.”

Avaranya unconsciously was grooming her hair. She was a little on edge. Meeting a musician who was said to be reincarnation of Mozart, anyone would have be fidgety.

“Why have you locked yourself Mr. Kashinami?”

The old man on the bed knotted his brows.

“Are you a reporter? IF YOU ARE THEN THE DOOR IS THERE!”

Avaranya stared. She hadn’t expected such violence from the frail bed ridden man.

“No, no, no, Mr. Kashinami. As I told you I am a PhD student doing a thesis on Mozart’s unrevealed music.”

“Prove it!”

Avaranya showed him her college ID.

“It can be forged,” said the bespectacled wasted man.

“In that corner,” continued Mr. Kashinami, “you will find a piano and written music. Let’s see if you can play it.”

Avaranya was playing the piano from age seven. She started with delicate chords, and felt the tempo build up. The song was coaxing her finger to be fluidic and even fluidier. She started playing consciously but lost her consciousness and became one with the task. Nothing mattered to her, nothing was of an importance except to keep strumming the piano, and keep increasing the tempo of the music. She was in such a state that she wanted more and more. But music in front of her stopped. The music was not complete. Climax of the song was missing.

“You have some talent, girl,” said the man on the bed. “Take a Xerox, and take these sheets with you. As your correctly guessed it is one fo the pieces which Mozart wrote just before pieces which Mozart wrote just before his death. He only wrote the intro. The rest around 95% of it is my contribution. Take it girl, and complete it!

Avaranya hesitated, but anyhow asked. “Why sir you won’t complete it?”

Kashinami showed his rheumatic hands and said, “ I don’t write music anymore. Take that diary on the table. They have my notes. Goodbye, Miss Mistry.”

**********************

The diary was a wealth of information. Before she finally got to the Mozart’s unfinished Sonata, she browsed and copied Kashinami’s scribbles. They were all scribbles, but if a Bollywood music director came across it, then he would be surely able to churn out at least music for ten different movies.

She saw that Kashinami had changed some of the chors. She didn’t know why. Senility, she thought. She corrected the chords and went for luck.

********************

Avaranya was ecstatic. In her hand was Mozart’s unfinished score. The score, which was touted as a masterpiece, only if it had been completed. After checking the authenticity of the piece, from the library. So Mr. Kashinami was not lying. He surely had the original Mozart’s score, with instructions to finish it. Mr. Kashinami was genuine.

He had not told her by when to finish it. But she wanted it to be ready at least two months before her thesis presentation, so that she could vet it from Kashinami & do the necessary changes if any.

She set down to work feverishly. Te best way to compose she had come to know was while playing. She started the piece in her hostel room. The reverberations of the music continued from the tip of her finger, to her eardrums, to her mind and then deep within her. The music was so soothing that her inner being got freer and freer as she proceeded. And then the tempo started and conveyed her to a stare which had no equivalent words in any language. The only language which could express it was music and she was speaking it.

Just then the cords ended and Avaranya came out of the trance. Strangely, her heart was aflutter and her body had gone cold. When she tried to get up she collapsed on the floor in a heap. Only by slowly wriggling her toes and gingers, little by little, she was able to bring warmth back to her limbs and body.

Then she knew that the music was really a masterpiece. A masterpiece which would convey the hearer to a location and make them forget the existing world.

She didn’t attempt another go at the piece. She had written scores which could be used fo twenty different albums, but this score evaded her.

And then a mere 65 days before the thesis deadline, she got the breakthrough. She started with the writing after attempting the score in half. She realized that with the original notes it became very difficult to get out of the trance and so she replaced those with what Mr. Kashinami had wrote. With that the music just flowed out of her and the score was complete.

The only thing remaining was the draft which would take a maximum of three days. Her first draft was already complete. The missing link was the score in her hands. After its addition, it would be over.

She was so enthusiastic that she couldn’t wait to show it to Mr. Kashinami. Long had he wallowed in obscurity, but it would soon be the end of it. A composer of his mettle couldn’t be allowed to be obscure; couldn’t be allowed to waste away. She would convince him. Maybe he could get a Nobel or a Bharat Ratna for his contributions.

“You completed it, girl?” asked Kashinami.

Avaranya nodded and said, “Yes sir. The music is just mind blowing.”

“Literally,” he said. He smiled.

Avaranya positioned the papers in front of the piano and started the piece. It started like dripping water, which then became a stream, which then became a rivulet and then became a river. It went higher and higher, but it still had no limit. The flow was building up slowly and slowly. The reverberations of the music originated from the tip of her fingers, to her eardrums, to her mind and then deep within. The music was so soothing that her inner being got freer and freer. The tempo continued building up and conveyed her to a state which had no equivalent words in any language. The only language which could express it was music & she was speaking it. she went on higher & higher and when the end note of the climax was reached in a shattering crescendo, all she saw was a blinding light.

********************

The bodies of Avaranya Mistry & Jaibhoom Kashinami, were found by Mr. Kashinami’s landlady. The post mortem by the police only revealed that both had died of heart failure. The score was taken in by the police as evidence, and remained in the Mumbai police archives for quite some time before being released to the landlady, as Mr. Kashinami had bequeathed everything to his landlady as a mark of gratitude for allowing a failed but non-famous music star to stay under her roof. The shrewd landlady sold the remainder of Mr. Kashinami’s estate to a Bollywood music director for a sum, considered hefty by some standards.

THE END

Bio: I am an Engineer by circumstance and writer by choice. I work in Engineering in Mumbai. I started writing short stories when in college, and have just now completed my first novel. My fiction genres include, horror, fantasy, political thrillers & historical. I am looking out for a publisher at present and working on my second book.

 

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