lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Name:
Location: Kolkata, India

Saturday, November 04, 2006

To tell a story

Tell me your story, he said. She was silent. Where do you begin? How do you condense a life into a few short words?

She looked down at her hands. My hands could tell my story, she thought. The callouses of a veena player, the second finger's thicker than the index finger's; the long nails on her right hand, the vertical line of discoloration on the little finger's nail that's caused by repeated striking of the drone strings. The thickened sinews of the wrists and the hardened heel of her right palm could tell about the hours of practice. Or my ankles could, she thought. A tale of bearing the veena's weight and endless hours of music sitting cross-legged and the callouses thereof.

Tell me your story, he said. She was silent. Where do you begin? How do you condense a life into a few short words?

She looked down at her hands. My hands could tell my story, she thought. The myriad scars of little-felt scrapes of the grater, the knife; the scalds and occasional splatter of an excited mustard seed; of a lifetime of meals made, and people fed. Of judging dishes, of countless stews stirred, vegetables diced and sliced and minced and grated. Of spices ground and batters made and fritters fried. Of how natural the knife felt now in the hand that used to race up and down the frets of the veena.

Tell me your story, he said. She was silent. Where do you begin? How do you condense a life into a few short words?

She looked down at her hands. My hands could tell my story, she thought. The slim fingers with their knuckles thickening with arthritis that is her inheritance; or was that thickening because of the times she'd crack the knuckles to loosen up and start working again? Her hands could tell her story, of the hours spent writing and typing; of the words that flowed out of her onto paper, to her hard disk; of the words she tried to define her world with, herself with.

Tell me your story, he said. She was silent. Where do you begin? How do you condense a life into a few short words?

Her hand fluttered to her face. My face could tell my story, she thought. The faded almost invisible scar on her forehead could tell of the toddler that fell and cut herself, the panicky scolding mother, and the protective brother dragging her away (she was too heavy to carry) from frightened wrath. Or the equally faded crescent on her chin could tell of the time she bravely if foolishly tried to lance a whitlow and fainted, splitting her chin and cutting her lip. The faint lines that bracket her mouth could tell of the times she laughed and lived.

Tell me your story, he said. She was silent. Where do you begin? How do you condense a life into a few short words?

She stirred uncomfortably. My body could tell my story, she thought. The scars of surgeries from a keloid to appendectomy; her scars could tell of disease and health, of life and age. Each scar telling a tale of life, the ancient mark of chickenpox to the latest bruise she received as she bumped into something; of everyday life and extraordinary events.

Tell me your story, he said. She looked up and smiled brightly. I don't have a story, she said, I just am.

Cheers!

22 Comments:

Anonymous Ph said...

Lovely. But people are persistent. They will ask. Especially if you tell them so beautifully. :)

7:05 pm  
Anonymous Ash said...

Brilliant piece, Lali. I wish you will elaborate on all the stories hinted. Absolutely fascinating.

9:20 pm  
Blogger Rimi said...

Missus Em, you're forgiven this once. What an incredibly poignant post. I'd have added several exclamation marks after that last sentence, but they would have destroyed the elegant serenity of this post so.

(And the award for Corny Comment goes to...)

11:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a lovely post, Lali. I echo Ash here, do tell us the hinted at tales. I foresee lots of fun at Missus Em's blog soon.
Sincerely,
Secret admirer

11:46 pm  
Anonymous Hehhh said...

Pah. Watta post, No Crossword Clue.

In Caps, even.

Might as well have told the stories, no ?

: )))

12:04 am  
Anonymous Hehhh said...

Forgot to add

From your hands you know you'll never be
More than twist in your sobriety

: ))))

12:54 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

ph- Hi. People are persistent, aren't they? Thank you. Do visit again.

Ash- Hinted is the key word, don't you think?

Rimi- Thanks for your vote, Princess. Much appreciated.

Anon- Get a name, will you?

Hehhh- Show relative importance of Germany fighting France (5)

So there. Nice couplet though. :-)

9:25 am  
Anonymous Hehhh said...

Show relative importance of Germany fighting France (5) ....


Oh... we do not attempt to match you in crosswords ma'am.

Merely singing Sahasranamams, we are.

10:25 am  
Blogger Rubic_Cube said...

Awesome!!!

5:41 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Hehhh- Dwarf, as a verb. D+war+F; show relative importance is the definition.

And what teflon sliding away from the demand for a clue and refusal to tackle it, heh? Marvellous, we concede.

Rubic_ cube- Hi there, welcome and thank you. Glad you liked it. Am reading your archives now, and what fun we are having vonly.

10:22 pm  
Anonymous Rajesh said...

It seems the lady has been busy while I was away. Don't you ever take a break, Lali?

A good post. Telling stories without telling them, Let me catch up.

11:26 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Rajesh- Thanks. Where have you been to, Pussy Cat?

9:21 am  
Blogger Priya said...

My my my! The storyteller at her best. Awesome stuff, lady. I just need to send G over, every night;)

11:26 am  
Anonymous Ash said...

On second reading, you have posted about this before, I think. How our bodies are marked by our daily lifestyle. About atheletes and salespersons and so on.

But that was a light piece, and this is a lovely story.

12:08 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Priya- Thanks, angel. I'd love to have G over, every night. I think we'd end up doing jigsaws, rather than telling stories, though. ;)

Ash- Yes, I did do a post on occupational hazards. But that was just a fun piece.

2:53 pm  
Blogger Priya said...

I'm sure you would. Have been trying to keep her away from a certain Red Riding Hood puzzle for the last 15 days! Finally last night she told me "I'm sleeping with the box in my hand today!"

2:07 pm  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

brilliant as always. very nicely told.

11:47 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Priya- Just let G be, willya, you mother hen you? Attagirl, G.

M- Thanks for dropping in again, lady. I appreciate it.

11:59 pm  
Anonymous dipali said...

Beautiful. Soul stirring- so many stories that are lived in a lifetime, impossible to know where they begin and where they end!

2:23 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Dipali- Exactly! You can't condense a life. Thanks.

4:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a brilliant post, I think I am in love. There are already several admirers taking numbers, so I will just say, me too.

8:31 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Anon- Thank you, just acquire a name.

11:22 pm  

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