The mountains arrogantly stood between his village, Gehlaur and the nearest town blocking medical and other facilities. And not long back, the love of his life had slipped from one of these rocky terrains, leaving him alone.
He wanted revenge now! It was his will against the daunting mountains. Angrily, he took out his hammer and chisel and began to hurt the mountains.
The villagers called him mad. But he just stopped listening. For twenty two years, he single handedly struggled against the mountains.
Finally, he succeeded in carving a path 9.1 metres (30 ft) wide and 110 metres (360 ft) long through a hill 7.6 metres (25 ft). The distance between his village and the town got reduced from 55km to 15km.
Today, the world knows him as the noble Mountain Man!
(The picture reminded me of the poor labourer Dashrath Manjhi from India, who spent his entire life doing a noble task. His life has inspired many documentaries and films as well as stories. In August 2015, a Hindi movie Manjhi – The Mountain Man, based on his life got released and was well received.)
(This is my entry to the flash fiction challenge, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by the lovely Priceless Joy. We are given a photo prompt and approximately 75-175 words with which to create our stories. This challenge is open to all who would like to participate. Please CLICK HERE for more. Thank you Grant for the image!)
Hindi film actresses like Hema Malini, Saira Banu, Sadhana, Asha Parekh, Mumtaz, Sharmila Tagore went bolder and experimental with dress and make up during the era. Ladies extensively used winged eyeliners while beehives and fringe cut went on to be a rage. Old teen age pictures of our mothers say it all.
I have once again used pastel pencils and chalks here. As I worked on it continuously for about two hours, I felt I needed a lot of practice to understand the tricks and techniques for blending colours. Do you have any idea how to blend pastels?
Not far from where we live, there is a patch in the sky that holds ‘Thought’ clouds. You can call it the Thoughtland!
Whatever thoughts you’ve had today or in the past, travels to this place and sticks there. To be frank, it is quite a confusing world comprising of jet black, white, grey, orange and blue clouds.
Dark clouds comprise of sad or wicked thoughts while white clouds are inspirational. Grey clouds are filled with tragi-comic thoughts pertaining to ups and downs in our mundane lives. Orange clouds hold thoughts by people from the past while blue clouds, which happen to be my favourite, hold brightest ideas.
That day, like most thinkers, I unwittingly entered the ‘Thoughtland’ while looking for a story idea. I got carried away, flew and flew, and reached the cloud patch. It was totally chaotic there…as thought clouds flew past me whispering of bitter sweet things.
I found myself amongst the grey clouds first and read a few thoughts of a teenager – “Why do my parents keep finding faults with me? I will grow up and take up a job and live far away from them!” Then, there was a housewife’s thoughts – “Thankless job I have been doing! Since morning till night, I am working. Cooking meals, washing, taking care of kids. But no respect, no joy! I will have to do something about it!”
I steered myself towards white clouds and read a few happy ones. A girl was going on a date with the guy of her dreams and she was thinking – “May the fairytale I am living today never ends.” And then there were thoughts of a little boy who was going to Disneyland and he was dreaming – “Tomorrow is going to be the best day of my life”.
I read a few black thoughts too and felt revolted. Stopping myself from reading further, I attempted to catch one of the blue clouds because I intuitively knew they held the story idea I was looking for.
But the blue clouds were the naughtiest ones! The moment I tried to get near them, they vanished, and my own dark and grey clouds, blocked way. Some of the dark clouds screamed, “It is useless to look for ideas and inspiration. Get used to your mundane existence. It is stupid, tiring and hard to try. You are born unlucky. Just give up!”
It was difficult to breathe when the dark clouds started bombarding me with negative thoughts. The naughty blue cloud had floated away. I felt like being trapped in an ocean of depressive thoughts.
Somehow, a lone Orange cloud appeared out of nowhere and whispered – “All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark. Never think there is anything impossible for the soul. It is the greatest heresy to think so. If there is sin, this is the only sin; to say that you are weak, or others are weak.”
I remembered reading this quote somewhere. I guess it was by the great spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda! His lofty thought had stayed in the universe to inspire people like me. I chanted the thought like a drowning person holds on to a branch.
After a short while , I felt something wriggling in my hand. The tiny blue thought cloud was resting calmly on my palm. It had come to me on its own! I understood! The idea got pulled to me when I was chanting a positive thought. A bright frame of mind attracts great ideas!
I came out of the ‘Thoughtland’ holding the precious tiny blue cloud. An interesting story idea was already taking shape in my mind. I resolved to work upon it as soon as possible…because guess you know, great ideas often vanish quickly without a trace.
Thank you for your participation in our Writing Competition.
The overwhelming response to our contest resulted in thousands of entries from amateur and professional authors alike. We’ve spent an enormous number of hours reviewing all the entries, and narrowing those thousands to double digits has been no easy task.
Unfortunately, we’re sorry to inform you that your entry is no longer being considered for a prize.
We sincerely hope you will ‘try again’!]
When you receive a letter like the above, you are gripped with an enormous sense of failure. All that months of brainstorming, effort, struggle and persistence ends up in a huge cipher. And then tormenting questions start spinning your head – Am I not good enough? Where do I lack? Perhaps, my works should be thrown in a garbage can? Should I quit writing? They no longer appreciate works like mine… Thoughts like these go on and on as you go about your daily chores. The letter crashes your expectation and self worth in a moment!
At first, the words ‘try again’ in the rejection letter sounds downright condescending. It seems organisers are patting the back of a dejected child, who is on the verge of tears. You think – “Have I not tried enough? I neglected sleep, appetite and everything that mattered to create something unique. And my work is mundane for them, my creativity has no acceptance.” You feel your struggle came to naught. You believe you are a loser for this is not the first time you have been rejected.
And then, from a tiny corner of your mind, emerges a beloved and luminous thought angel. “It wasn’t about winning, it was all about trying your best.” You remember hearing your child chant that sentence just a couple of days back. It is from his favourite story book. Everytime he comes across this line, he demands an explanation. And you like a doting mother, explain it to him.
This thought chastises and shakes you to sit upright. You no longer look grumpy and slumped. You think – “Why did I forget the meaning of the line when it became relevant in real life? Is it one thing to lecture a child and another thing to incorporate in real life?
You smile pleasantly as you repeat to yourself – “It wasn’t about winning, it was all about trying my best”.
One happy thought defeats dejection. The thought of quitting no longer plagues your mind. You know, you cannot let down your creativity. Winning or no winning, appreciation or no appreciation, applause or no applause… you will try to create like the everflowing murmuring ‘Brook’ ( Alfred Lord Tennyson). “Men may come and men may go but I go on forever”. Victory is transient, creativity is not!
You once again gear up to take up another challenge… just for the heck of it. Who thinks about failure as long as you are creating! Indeed, life is not about winning, it is all about trying your best! The rejection letter is forgotten.