Motionless .. still .. eyes shut in perpetuity .. a form on wooden logs .. covered .. flames about .. and a life turned to ashes ..
I first saw him entering the Ajanta Arts office in Bandra, of Sunil Dutt, where I was making my way to seek a job .. a most good looking handsome young man .. a body in elegant frame .. a swagger in his walk .. and a gentle smile as he looked towards me .. it was 1969 .. he was working in the Ajanta Arts film, ‘Man ka Meet’ .. I was struggling to get a role, any role, anywhere ..
In time we met again within the same precincts .. he and I were working in the same film of Dutt Saheb, ‘Reshma aur Shera’ .. look trials in the office of the film .. travel and sittings on the story .. Thapa saheb, Ali Raza, Sukhdev and those all night meets, most novel for me .. my first brush with the way the film industry functioned .. the time for the shoot and the excitement of travel on a location in Jaisalmer .. the months we spent together and after .. driving in the scorching heat of the deserts of Rajasthan to the location, Pochina, in the sands of nowhere near civilisation .. living under one tent - Vinod, Ranjit, Thapa Saheb, Ali Raza saheb about seven of us in the same tent .. then similar number at a make shift residence in the city of Jaisalmer - Amrish Puri joining us in that room filled with all of us, living laughing, working .. carefree days .. the rigors of that location and its environs ..
On return from the location his continued connect with me .. he a big star .. but always most humble with selfless concern for others .. the rides he would take me on, in his recently acquired Beetle VolksWagen, yellow in color .. his generosity in smuggling me into the only Disco Club in the city at the Taj, where he was a member, and I not even remotely in any state to become one .. his marriage to Geetanjali, whom he and we all fondly called Gitly .. the birth of his sons, Rahul and Akshay, whom he often brought on to the sets of AAA ..
That incident at a restaurant in SoBo, where someone made a snide remark, and he took him on, getting knifed in the arm during the scuffle, but being victorious ..
The sudden passing of his Father soon after our work together in ‘Reshma’ .. I being with him in his hour of grief .. and then .. the amazing chemistry of the several historic films that we did together .. an association that was so loveable and considerate .. spending time in each others make up rooms, sharing our lunch, just biding time and talking of all kinds of talk .. the late shoot pack ups and the beyond midnight drives to Juhu Beach, to just sit with our directors and he to have a drink, and I mine ( I used to in those days ) ..
That guilt ridden incident when I had to fling a glass in a scene towards him and it accidentally hitting his chin, cutting him open right through to his teeth .. the remorse regret and guilt within me to date for that unforgiving accident .. rushing him to his doctor, late at night, getting stitched up, driving with him to his house to settle him in and to just keep apologising for this horrific accidental slip ..
The sudden brush with him as he ran up the stairs in Breach Candy Hospital, where I had gone to visit a friend, and his anger and grave faced expression - he learning of the accident of his close relative on a motorbike, and him wanting to be with her as she struggled for her life ..
His friendly gesture of appearing in a film of mine ‘Zameer’ .. the times we spent on it at various locations .. the most rigorous being action sequences shot in the interiors of Udaipur, well into the night and dawn, with that most respected Action Coordinator Khanna Saheb .. after the sequence was filmed, Khanna Saheb sitting with us in the early hours of the morning and emotionally expressing his great joy in working with the two of us ..
“give me these two artists in an action drama and I shall extract the best ever seen” .. he would commend us ..
The Hotel in Udaipur and our rooms distanced .. me away in one lonely corner and he in another .. I call him in the middle of the night and express the loneliness .. he inviting me over and saying to stay with him in his room .. for a newcomer you cannot imagine what this meant to me to be treated like this by a star ..
His confident charm was infectious .. there was always an optimistic swagger about him .. a smile .. a laugh .. a casualness .. nothing seemed to disturb him one felt .. the relaxed ‘cool’ of today’s times ..
The jigs we would invent on set .. impromptu songs .. when 5 Librans working together in the same film at the same scene would break into - Shammi Kapoor ji, Amjad, Kader Khan, Vinod and I - our little ditty, on the sets of ManMohan Desai’s “Parvarish” ..
‘We are crazy Librans .. **%#@!! up this film” .. !!!
And the uproarious laughter that followed each shot that we gave together ..
And then one day his sudden decision to the following of Rajneesh .. his passion and the strength of his belief .. his sincerity in his following, right to California where Rajneesh had shifted .. I met him in Los Angeles during this period on a stray visit, and he spent hours at a common friend’s place explaining to me what the movement meant not just to him, but to the World in general ..
And this afternoon that association of 48 years came to an end ..
This man .. this body of enthused energy and giving .. this friend .. this colleague .. this ever smiling swagger infested individual, lay motionless ..
No one walked the way he did .. no one had the presence he had in a crowded room .. no one could lighten up the surroundings he was in, like him .. no one ..
Music. That’s what The Shroud was to him. He’d lived there a shorter time than many, and yet still he spoke its language fluently. It was a land painted for him in picture books from his youth, beckoning him from the pages all the way in Othard. He’d never paused to think that the real thing could be any less miraculous. In his head he had added his own embellishments as a child; sprays of water from a foaming brook glittering in a beam of sunshine, the luring symphony of birds calling from branches above, even a glimpse of a faerie, gossamer and pale in the twilight. All these things and more he’d conjured, and only once he arrived there, in the heart of the forest, did he understand that he had not conjured these things. He’d not invented them. They were already there. They were simply awaiting him.
Mythka had weathered the winter as he always had, crafting tonics and salves, healing those who stumbled onto his doorstep, and tending to the seeds he’d started in his cabin. They lined his windows, soaking up every ilm of winter sunlight afforded them, and eventually pushed past the soil to greet it. His hearth burned brightly, morning to night and well into the darkness, and it was perhaps this winter out of them all that he’d felt the most confident.
A lovely Lalafell had visited him, one he’d patched up on her travels through The Shroud last summer. She’d brought Mythka a beautiful rug, woven by expert hands in Ul'dah, as payment for his services. He’d never charged a living soul, but more often than not people would find a way to pay him. And this rug, while he thought it was far too fine for him, did in fact look quite nice there in his living room nestled near his fireplace. It sneaked underneath his couch and his coffee table and made the entire room softer. Warmer. Cozier. He sat on it now, in fact.
In his hands was a picture book, not unlike the one he’d cherished so long ago in Othard. He still had that book, in fact; it held a place on his bookshelf, between a catalog of the flora of the East Shroud and an accounting ledger he used not for keeping track of his bank balances, but rather for documenting the ratios and concentrations of his various concoctions. But the book in his hands was not illustrating the forest he now lived in, like that special one on his shelf. Instead the pages were painted with sceneries from the a land he’d left what felt like ages before: Othard.
The Raen’s lips pursed as his watery-pale eyes flickered over the scenes: The Steppes he had always been so terrified of, Doma itself and the architectural splendors it held, The Ruby Sea in its vast expanse. The drawings were beautiful. Artistically. But they held no magic for Mythka. No mystique. The feelings that had suffused through young Myth as his eyes pored over the pages of his book about The Shroud did not touch him as he studied this one. He’d never felt like he belonged on that continent.
Still, his fingers turned page after page, waiting for something to spark some kind of familial longing inside him… and yet, nothing did. He pursed his lips and sighed, closing the book with a soft thwack. The dust jacket on the book proclaimed “OTHARD” in mock-gilded letters. Oddly enough, it was the mere sight of those letters that socked him in the gut - not with any need to return there, but rather… with the emptiness it left inside him. The place he came from, the place he felt nothing for.
“Enough,” he murmured softly as he rose, his skirt swishing gently around his ankles. He took one step closer to the fireplace and bent over to wedge the book securely between the burning logs. The flames reflected in his eyes as he righted himself, glowing orange and then a sickly greenish-blue when the ink began to burn. Mythka watched for a moment more, then set his jaw and pulled his long cardigan snugly around himself. It was still chilly in his neck of the woods, so to speak, and he’d need the warmth on his evening walk.
My brother and his girlfriend got a kitten, so I chased it around with my camera for a while. The lighting was pretty bad, so I had to crank up the ISO to 3200, which I try to avoid whenever possible because my camera (a Canon 60D) gets a little spicy up there. His name is Packer (after the American football team) and he’s a little hellion! (but I still love him)
felt like forever since you had seen your father, and you definitely
had never seen him like this – reduced to a distorted, groaning
mess on the ground. You hadn’t noticed him before.
completely honest, you had almost forgotten about him.
stared up at you with wide eyes, and you stared back, your weapons
still aimed at the door that was threatening to give in any second.
There were shouts from the other side, demands to open the door,
requests for your father to respond.
all went unanswered.
took a couple of steps towards your father, stopping where the heat
of the fireplace enveloped you and became one with the fiery rage
that was slowly growing inside you at the mere sight of him. You
thought of all the things he had done to your mother. Jin. Yoongi.
kicked your father in the stomach before he could finish his
sentence. And then you kicked him again, and again, until he was
coughing and whimpering.
were burning in your throat, but you refused to show any signs of
weakness. You wanted him to remember you like this, make sure that
the image of you he took to his grave was that of a person who was
cracked, but whom he could not break.
“I’m afraid there’s only bread and cheese,” Michael said rather stiffly.
“But there’s a whole basket of eggs in there!” Sophie said. “And isn’t that bacon? What about a hot drink as well? Where’s your kettle?”
“There isn’t one,” Michael said. “Howl’s the only one who can cook.”
“I can cook,” said Sophie. “Unhook that frying pan and I’ll show you.”
She reached for the large black pan hanging on the closet wall, in spite of Michael trying to prevent her. “You don’t understand,” Michael said. “It’s Calcifer, the fire demon. He won’t bend down his head to be cooked on for anyone but Howl.”
Sophie turned and looked at the fire demon. He flickered back at her wickedly. “I refuse to be exploited,” he said.
“You mean,” Sophie said to Michael, “that you have to do without even a hot drink unless Howl’s here?” Michael gave an embarrassed nod. “Then you’re the one that’s being exploited!” said Sophie. “Give that here.” She wrenched the pan from Michael’s resisting fingers, plonked the bacon into it, popped a handy wooden spoon into the egg basket, and marched with the lot to the fireplace. “Now, Calcifer,” she said, “let’s have no more nonsense. Bend down your head.”
“You can’t make me!” crackled the fire demon.
“Oh, yes I can!” Sophie crackled back, with the ferocity that had often stopped both her sisters in mid-fight. “If you don’t, I shall pour water on you. Or I shall pick up the tongs and take away both your logs,” she added, as she got herself creakingly onto her knees by the hearth. There she whispered, “Or I can go back on our bargain, or tell Howl about it, can’t I?”
“Oh, curses!” Calcifer spat. “Why did you let her in here, Michael?” Sulkily he bent his blue face forward until all that could be seen of him was a ring of curly green flames dancing on the logs.
“Thank you,” Sophie said, and slapped the heavy pan onto the green ring to make sure Calcifer did not suddenly rise up again.
“I hope your bacon burns,” Calcifer said, muffled under the pan.