Saturday, February 13, 2010

A scene from IIMB

Ordinary piece of writing. I was trying to imagine IIM Bangalore after not seeing it for almost half a decade now. I sometimes took long walks along its corridors in the night and the sense of surrealism still remains. There were corners and nooks so quiet, so alone that for a moment it felt that you have broken through the skin of the world to enter a new one.

The temperature drops immediately as I enter the campus and the smells of woods and pollen fill the air. A tree-lined driveway curving around a wooded lawn brings me to the side patio of a grey stone building where I park the bike and step inside. A network of corridors opens in three directions: to my left, my right and straight ahead. No one in sight: I walk straight. The corridors shift space as I walk. The width of the walkway expands and contracts; tunnels break into open spaces, walls give way to pergolas lined with colonnade of pillars two stories high, unbroken ceilings to trellis running like rail-tracks overhead and laden with vines; whole section of walls get eaten by climbers, the veins of their branches pressed flat and gray to the granite like fossils; corridors run alongside separated by rows of pillars or green spaces only to disappear around a corner where others meet; they lead to stairways, climb steps to inner passages, run around central courts, drop to an amphitheatre, end in doors – I get lost.

I walk out of the dormitory and stand uncertainly in the middle of the corridor, trying to remember the tortuous route the hostel prefect had taken to bring and abandon me here. No one in sight. Absolutely quiet but for the rustling leaves. And yet, an overwhelming sense of their presence here once – like the wet stains of their shadows which had fallen across the courtyard and this corridor have just dried. A thought – am I dead? I am still ten but I know what it feels to be dying: the dark suffocating passage through its crypt. Is this the aftermath of dying – I wonder. Crawling back to the very world one has left the others weeping behind and denied, too, of their presence forever? Does heaven mean having the world to yourself and yet be condemned to chase shadows around the corner? Mirages baking in the distance, breaking and disappearing in a smoke at the last lap of approach; footprints ahead in the wet sand sucked back in the tide; rooms where the blades of the switched-off fan still turn and the food untouched on the table still warm. What is hell then?

A couple of guards whispering at a nook. They direct me to follow to the end a corridor branching at a tangent and watch for a wide open space boxed between two lecture-halls on my left.

The space is wide, flanked by flights of steps leading to the lecture-halls and opening at the back to a stone-paved walkway melding into darkness. Strings of green lampposts had lit the open passage which had led to here, the phosphorescent light between them seaming passages of radiance and gloom; here, rows of tube-lights bracing the ceiling like girders frame the scene in milky unshadowed lucidity. Again, no one around but a scrawny boy in a black suit, sitting on the steps and arranging a pile of papers on his lap, two fingers hooked like talons crawling along the sheaf, one marking the spot where a sheet is pulled out and the other where it is inserted back.

Time imagined is passage of thoughts. My mind remains numb.

Time sensed is breaking of rhythms; culmination of actions. He pulls another sheet out and slides it back.

I stand still and silent – as if a ripple stirred and sent quivering on the surface of this tableau of limbo and it would dissolve again into labyrinthine corridors. The talons meet and the boy shuffles the stack one last time, lines the sheets – three taps along the short edge on his knee, a quarter rotation, three taps along the long edge – and places them in a folder. He looks up and notices me. ‘Yes?’

The clock starts ticking again.


Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bland Spice said...

thanks jennifer :)

ramya sriram said...

did you write this in a flow or did you stop and think?

Bland Spice said...

stopped stopped stopped.... i have a very bad lexicon

but wrote it in a single day