An Evening on The Terrace

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This article has been submitted by Sudha Ayim for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.

I was on the terrace. The setting sun splashed an orange hue across the earth below. The cool breeze sighed peacefully. The chirruping birds scurried to their homes nested in verdant trees. The terrace overlooked a mottled array of buildings and roads sewn onto a barren landscape.

The winds suddenly altered course, forcefully throwing open a window. I fell into an enticing line of thought. “How would it feel”, I mused, “to stand as tall as this”. I looked down at the minute, benign buildings and little insignificant ants in clothes scampering up and down, moiling insignificantly. I could dictate the rules of the game. Put this fellow in jail, lock this other guy up, marry this fellow off to the other girl, put this girl in that apartment, flick this apartment out of existence, and arbitrate the flow of money. Like SimCity. A reckless despot who could turn people out of cities on a whim, bring down and erect structures, colossal structures, at the click of a mouse. The very thought of being an irrationally powerful force much, much above measly pecuniary considerations sated me with such mirth that I roared with laughter. An impalpable, fleeting feeling of absolute power seized me with its strong, bare hands. I roared till laughter was reduced to an apprehensive, nervous whimper.

Another window had blasted open. Their movements began to look surreptitious. They could think for themselves. I felt a tightening in my throat. They could, with their overwhelming majority, bring me down. I remembered the story of David and Goliath. A clandestine movement would abrogate my rule. After all, you can’t always win SimCity. It’s no picnic for someone wielding absolute authority. Ban public meetings, ban public press, ban public forums, turn them into hand puppets. I was left with no choice. The unknown citizen must remain so.

The wind course changed drastically. Another window creaked open. Men thought for themselves. I had reconciled. I shelved the idea of turning them into my hand puppets. Nevertheless I still bore the onus of general welfare of my Lilliputs and free thinking augmented my responsibilities. I saw malicious men, mad men, careless men and other men too. I had to protect each from the other and bind them together with some coalescing superglue. As I pondered over how to deflect that blow and swerve that car away and deter that man or help that girl, I had run out of time. Intimidated by the responsibility I warily eyed the exit. Dabbing my sweaty forehead with a soaked handkerchief, I momentarily hovered over my initial strategy to reign them in, when a sharp, shrieking wind almost rendered me deaf. Another window had opened.

Another window had opened crisply. The incipient perceptions seemed hazy and distant. I saw men woven into an intrinsic fabric. Some tried hard to wriggle their way out, others wriggled to raise their heads above the rest. Still others remained obsequiously inert, some nonchalant and others evidently worried, yet others remained torpid sceptics. Some invisible hand, intermittently and interminably plucked men out and wove them into some other fabric. A tighter or looser pattern. A pretty one or an eyesore. The men remained the same in the merciless grapple hold of the filaments woven by the invisible hand. They could never extricate themselves from an unknown, inexorable threat. There was a design, just no purpose. The fabric engulfed them and the hand tore them apart. I helplessly looked on. The filaments looked like they knew. An obscure motive and an ephemeral motif – that was all I knew about the filaments. It was a raw, sober force and its actions best suited its own reasons. The fabric was always novel, but the rationale, the purpose escaped me. The fabric was woven everywhere. Maybe I was part of it too. Like clothes spinning in a washer. Tumbling and thrown anywhere and everywhere within a steeled frame.

I abandoned my conjectural ruminations. The sun had set and night had thrown a pall over the city. The city was abuzz with life and vigour. The insects still crawled and scampered. My eyes ran over the splendid city one last time before I joined the scampering bugs and moiling ants.

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