Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fairy Tale from an Asylum



Short Story

Mr Sharma was sitting beside the bathtub with a fishing rod in hand.  The hook was in the tub.  There was water in the tub.  But wherever there is water there may not be fish.  That’s a natural law.  Mr Sharma was not in a mental status to recall natural laws although he could recall the whole of the Vedas from his formidable memory at the snap of a finger from his boss.

Fishing in troubled waters was the lifelong hobby of Mr Sharma.  You can’t blame him for that.  What’s in the race cannot be erased even with Surf Excel Stain Eraser.  Mr Sharma’s grandfather is known to have planted an idol of Lord Rama in the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in the night of Dec 12, 1949.  That was a smart move as far as grandfather Sharma was concerned.  Grandfather Sharma saw himself as the prophet of Hindustan that would become in his imagination the Hindu subcontinent in the twenty-first century.  But grandfather Sharma would not have imagined that his grandson would be toiling seventeen hours a day in a residential school in the capital of Hindustan, and that too a school which would be taken over by a Baba through a business tycoon who would become such a devotee of the Baba as to donate the entire campus to the Baba in order to attain Moksha in the life hereafter. 

History is a funny enterprise.  You turn the page the other way and you will get another truth.  Turn again and yet another truth will emerge.  Now, what’s the true truth?  You will wonder.  That wonder is literature.  But that’s a different matter. 

“Hi, Sharma ji, caught any fish?” asked Dr Tyagi, the psychiatrist of the sanatorium where Mr Sharma’s family members had got him admitted when his fishing had gone off on a tangent.

“No, Sir,” said Mr Sharma stroking his necktie which he could never live without. “This is only a bathtub.”

Dr Tyagi was an expert not only on neuroticism but also on Chanakya’s Kautilya Shastra.  

“Sharma ji,” said Dr Tyagi, “do you really want to catch fish from a bath tub?”

Sharma ji pulled back his fishing line and stared into the eyes of the doc.  Sparkling eyes.  Longing eyes.  Ambitious eyes.

“Play the game further,” said Dr Tyagi.  “It is called SFBT.”

SFBT did not strike a chord with Sharma ji’.  There’s no such thing in the Vedas. 

“Solution-Focused Brief Therapy,” explained Dr Tyagi.  “Find solutions.”

Together they discovered solutions.  Sharma ji learnt how to give his duties to others in his school.  He learnt to make everyone feel miserable.  Muddy the waters to the fullest.  Fishes swarm madly in sullied waters.  Catch them.  Kill them.  Use them.  It’s your choice.  That’s SFBT.

Sharma ji became the vice principal of his school soon.  “Every story can have a fairy tale ending,” said Sharma ji in the first class he took as vice principal. 

Notes:
1.      This is a work of fiction.  No character is intended to be from actual life.  If any character bears any resemblance to actuality, it is mere coincidence.  A writer lives in an asylum.
2.      The analogy of the fish is taken from Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

25 comments:

  1. The story sounds too much familiar to me :)

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    Replies
    1. Aram, are you saying that I'm not in an asylum yet? :)

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    2. You for sure are in one !!
      But the world is full of small asylums !!
      I escaped quiet a few !!
      Hope I keep escaping (knock wood) :) ...

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    3. Thanks for the reassurance. In a way, you console me :)

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  2. I agree with Aram there are many such mini ones and I think all of us have caught a glimpse of it at one point or other!

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  3. It definitely is a crazy world out there, I often wonder if I would get sucked in myself. Maybe I reside in my own asylum sometimes, the outsider thinking I am already crazy :D

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    1. We need to discover our own ways of keeping our sanity. Writing is one such trick for me.

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  4. , several times i skip reading your post as i dont wish to read in a hurry and miss out on a single word that you write..You are tooooo tooo good with words Matheikal :)

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    1. Thanks, Alka, for that wonderful appreciation. I must be obliged to some people who are determined to make my life miserable. It if were not for them, I wouldn't be a fiction writer today. :)

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  5. yes ....we all have one inside us .. our own asylum .... it was a nice reminder for me... SBFT ?? is there truely any such therapy ? :)

    I could feel the Sharmaji inside me !! very nice !! like Alka , even I skip your posts mostly to relax and read and then i see by the time I am free you already have another post knocking the door.. hence i stopped commenting in between .. just read enjoy and wait for another one !! Ur one such narrator responding to whom is mandatory for me !!

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  6. SBFT is real. This is a postmodern trend that emerged in psychology, people want quick solutions, you see. You can read more about it by merely googling the abbreviation.

    I'm certainly glad you find my stories interesting. There was a time when I gave up writing stories thinking I was a poor fiction writer. But life teaches us much...!

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  7. every person is after sbft these days i have felt. You always make it a point to weave your stories with a mention to the present day woes and turmoil. very well penned was this one too :)

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    1. Yes, Malini, I like to deal with contemporary problems. Even when I mention history or myth, it's to highlight some comparison or contrast with the present. What else matters really, isn't it?

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  8. Very nice. I think i saw SFBT in action in 'A Beautiful Mind' last night.

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    1. SFBT can be put to good use very effectively. But in the hands of villainous people it can become a dangerous tool too. Quick solutions can have side effects especially when they are politically motivated.

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  9. I want to join in the fun, competitive asyluming, I call it :)

    My asylum is better (worse) than yours.

    Truly, none can beat the one I am in; but, is comparison valid across professions? :P

    RE

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for joining in the fun, Raghuram. Your joining matters much to me, especially given your aversion to literature.

      Asylums are beyond comparison, forget the professional barrier. In the asylum you can be Nehru and I can be Geroge Washington.

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    2. No, Matheikal, I am Nelson Mandela, Richard Feynman rolled into one!

      RE

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  10. What about the fish which has to tolerate the ones that swarm in the muddy waters?

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    Replies
    1. There's no tolerance in muddy waters, wings. There's only survival.

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