Passing Days

I woke; I showered; I worked; I slept.
I woke; I showered; I worked; I slept.
I woke; I showered; I worked; I slept.
I woke; I showered; I worked; I slept.
I woke; I showered; I worked; I slept.

I woke; I showered; I read; I watched; I cried; I called; we talked; I smiled; she laughed. I laughed. I slept.

I woke; I smiled; I showered; I dressed; I called; we met; we watched; we talked; we held; we kissed; we laughed; she went; I went; I called; we laughed; I slept.

I woke; I showered; I worked; I slept…

The Finish Line

nanowrimo 2006 Well, the finish line has been crossed, and I’m ready to go back to sanity. I think that the most important thing that I’ve learnt from this is that when we approach a difficult task, we always start out believing, then doubting, then, if we’re lucky, persevering; and in the end, winning.

I believe I deserve some sleep; I am going to sleep.

Good night,
Donn

Final Chapter

I conclude my NaNoWriMo with my final chapter. Do forgive the “speling and grammers mistakes,” it adds to the “NaNoWriMo” feel of the story… Here’s a (pretty long) excerpt…

Rowena turned and faced him. Her eyes, filled with tears, glistened in the light of the setting sun. He walked up to her.

“Ro…”

But Rowena said nothing. She felt bad she betrayed him, but felt even worse that he had not given her a chance to explain, a chance to ask for forgiveness. He looked at her, and saw how hurt she was; he felt terrible, but how could he forgive her after what she had done?

[…]

She continued, “tell me Dres, what is life? Life is but days strung together, like beads on a necklace. Just one wrong bead, in the wrong place, can destroy the whole thing.”

[…]

“Dresden, you’re the strangest, most unromantic crap head I know.”

Dresden realised this. And he felt a little embarrassed too. He was supposed to be this suave, thinking fellow, and now he was just saying “let’s just get back together, okay?”? He felt dumb and cheap.

“Ro…”

“Yes?”

“I’m going to take a mulligan.” And do Dresden did take that mulligan. And they started again, back then they had just sat down.

Again, the sun was setting, all was beautiful, ya-da ya-da, and tears rolled down her cheeks.

Dresden looked at her with a cool, sauve look, and took of his sunglasses. She could see his eyes now, and to her horror, they were almost as red as hers. What she didn’t know was that it was conjunctivitis, and not because he was crying.

“Ro, believe me when I say I love you. I always have. No matter what you do, no matter what you say, that will not change.”

Dresden then realised that perhaps the best words he could use in a situation such as this, were no words at all. He sat there, with her, watching the setting sun. When the sun had set, he slowly held her hand, and she didn’t take it away.

She put her head on his shoulder, and they just sat there, comfortable in each other’s silence. What so many people fail to realise, is that silence often is the most powerful language one can use, and one with the most tact. Used in the extremes, silence can kill a relationship, with fear being the main catalyst. But when used in a controlled manner, nothing could be better.

Dresden stood up, and helped Rowena up as well.

“Let’s go for a walk, Ro…” and he led Rowena to the edge of the lake. He sat down on the grass, and invited Rowena to do the same. She sat.

He took out from his bag some pieces of bread, and gave some to her. He then tore of a piece and threw it into the water.

“To the fish, it will seem like food is falling from the sky. A fish has no sense of land, no sense of sky. A bird that feeds on fish would seem like the devil, and a bird flying overhead might seem like an angel. And God is the unseen creature dropping food from the surface.

“We are the Gods to the fish. We can, with some effort, decide if they live, or they die.”

“Why are you telling me all this?” asked Rowena.

“There are some things we can never understand, Ro. God showed me that you existed, showed me that a beautiful human being such as yourself could even stand being in my company. I don’t understand him, and like the fish, I’ll never understand what is beyond me. Sometimes he chooses to torture me, but most times he just feeds me, and lets me be.”

“And I was your torture?” asked Rowena. She broke into a smile. “I’m sorry Dres.”

“No worries Ro, no worries.”

Dresden lay down on his back, and invited Ro to do the same. He put his arm behind her, and she lay on it. They both lay like this, watching the stars.

“In a million years, Ro…”

Rowena looked at him, then at the sky, and continued for him, “we’ll all be part of the cosmos, as dust in the nebulae, like dust in the wind.”

Then they closed their eyes, and slept.

The Dung Pile

As I was stumbling, I came across this site on Buddhist Stories. The very first story was The Worm, about two Buddhist monks who died within months of each other, but whose afterlives went in very different directions: one went to Heaven, while the other became a worm in a dung pile. Here’s the story:

There is a wonderful little story about two monks who lived together in a monastery for many years; they were great friends. Then they died within a few months of one another. One of them got reborn in the heaven realms, the other monk got reborn as a worm in a dung pile.

The one up in the heaven realms was having a wonderful time, enjoying all the heavenly pleasures. But he started thinking about his friend, “I wonder where my old mate has gone?” So he scanned all of the heaven realms, but could not find a trace of his friend.

Then he scanned the realm of human beings, but he could not see any trace of his friend there, so he looked in the realm of animals and then of insects. Finally he found him, reborn as a worm in a dung pile… Wow! He thought: “I am going to help my friend. I am going to go down there to that dung pile and take him up to the heavenly realm so he too can enjoy the heavenly pleasures and bliss of living in these wonderful realms.”

So he went down to the dung pile and called his mate. And the little worm wriggled out and said: “Who are you?”, “I am your friend. We used to be monks together in a past life, and I have come up to take you to the heaven realms where life is wonderful and blissful.” But the worm said: “Go away, get lost!” “But I am your friend, and I live in the heaven realms,” and he described the heaven realms to him. But the worm said: “No thank you, I am quite happy here in my dung pile. Please go away.”

Then the heavenly being thought: “Well if I could only just grab hold of him and take him up to the heaven realms, he could see for himself.” So he grabbed hold of the worm and started tugging at him; and the harder he tugged, the harder that worm clung to his pile of dung.

Do you get the moral of the story? How many of us are attached to our pile of dung?

— from the story The Worm, by Ajahn Brahmavamso

I actually thought I had gotten the moral of the story, when I saw the writer’s first question, “Do you get the moral of the story?” But when he asked “How many of us are attached to our pile of dung?” I realised that I hadn’t.

What I presume the writer’s intended moral was that we should not be so attached to what we’re comfortable with. Perhaps there’s a Heaven out there just waiting for us, with people trying hard to get us there, but we’re just too stubborn to see it.

In the context of this story, I do not agree.

Karma is there for a Reason

If the monk who became a worm was meant to go to Heaven, he would have gone there in the first place. If the monk who had gone to Heaven were to bring the worm there as well, what would the other people who were re-born into worms think? Would it be fair for them?

And what kind of Heaven would allow those who did not belong there to be there? It would be like inviting paedophiles into a kindergarten — it won’t be a pretty sight.

Heaven’s what you Make of it

One man’s meat is another man’s poison. One man’s Heaven, is another man’s Hell. What would a worm do in a Heaven populated by human-like beings?

No matter how nice we might think our house is, no wild animal would be content to live there. Animals are happier where they were placed by nature: in the wild. Likewise, the worm’s Heaven would well have been his dung pile; and if you noticed how hard he fought to remain where he was, you’ll find it hard to think otherwise.

My moral of the story is: Not everyone thinks like you do. You may think you know what’s best for another, but you will never know until you are the other.

Life’s simply not as straightforward as it suggests.

Giving up NaNoWriMo

In a writing stupor the 23,000th word was typed. Fingers slammed the wrong keys, misguided by the brain fatigued beyond total exhausation, hoping for some respite; but the heart would hear nothing of it, and I pushed on.

I only decided to stop for the night when I realised just how incoherent my thoughts had gotten, and how I simply could not concentrate at all on writing: I found that I had killed my character in Chapter 4 and Chapter 6, just as I completed chapter 12, in which she was a vital character.

But quantity, not quality, was the order of the night, so I allowed this metaphysical paradox to stand, fully believing that it would fix itself later on.

I went to bed and slept almost immediately.

The next night, I continued my writing. By chapter 16, I had run out of ideas. Writing stalled for a while, till I remembered that my character’s dual-death was still not resolved. With a stroke of genius, I decided this story would not be a thriller anymore: science fiction — complete with time travel and the theory of Parallel Universes — would be my genre of choice.

NaNoWriMo and its 50,000 Words

NaNoWriMo is about writing a 50,000 word novel in a month. I approached it thinking that it was an insanely doable task. And with so many other people having already done it (over 9,000 in 2005), how hard could it be?

Well, hard. Very hard, in fact.

It took me 19 days to hit my 13,000th word, and I was at this time already giving up over an hour of my time most nights to write.

Sacrifice

The last few nights, in my push towards the halfway mark, I’ve been giving close to three hours of my time. I’ve even given up reading, television, and my semi-daily run. I’ve isolated myself from friends and family; the radio’s been unplugged; and I have cut my sleeping time almost 20%. If this isn’t obsessive, I don’t know what is.

Purpose

I’ve asked myself countless times what I was doing all this for: Nobody’s going to read my novel; nobody’s going to say “well-done”; and I’m not going to get any monetary reward. Just what am I getting out of it?

Giving Up

I’ve often thought of giving up this silly game, especially as I struggled to find things to write. And of late, as the stagnation of ideas begins, this has been a thought continually playing on my mind: “Perhaps I should stop now. I could always try next year, when I’m more ready.”

That was the thing that made me realise that whether I liked it or not, I would have to go through with this: Not going through with this, all the way till the end, would be to set a terrible precedent, and I’m not prepared to do that.

I could well imagine myself giving up a business opportunity because “I could always wait for the next one to come along, when I’m more ready,” or not studying for an exam “because there’s always next year.”

I realised that if I do manage to get through these moments of self-doubting and push through to complete this novel, however bad it may be, it would prove to be a fantastic reference point for the rest of my life, instead of a terrible precedent for me to have to live with.

I hope to give you the good news in a week’s time when NaNoWriMo ends.

Dresden’s Childhood

I’ve been finding it almost impossible to continue my NaNoWriMo attempt along the lines of the Dresden-Rowena love story, so I’ve decided to write on Dresden’s childhood. This chapter is a short story by itself, and requires no prior knowledge of the novel. Here’s an excerpt of it, the epitaph that Dresden writes for this beloved dead chicken:

Here lies a chicken
Cooked beyond perfection
Original and unseasoned
Burned beyond recognition
Loved by Dresden
Killed by Dresden
Love kills —
Love not.
–- Dresden

Read the dramedic chapter in its entirety: Dresden’s Childhood

13,348 in 19 days. Oh boy, I’m in trouble.

Dresden's Childhood

I’ve been finding it almost impossible to continue my NaNoWriMo attempt along the lines of the Dresden-Rowena love story, so I’ve decided to write on Dresden’s childhood. This chapter is a short story by itself, and requires no prior knowledge of the novel. Here’s an excerpt of it, the epitaph that Dresden writes for this beloved dead chicken:

Here lies a chicken
Cooked beyond perfection
Original and unseasoned
Burned beyond recognition
Loved by Dresden
Killed by Dresden
Love kills —
Love not.
–- Dresden

Read the dramedic chapter in its entirety: Dresden’s Childhood

13,348 in 19 days. Oh boy, I’m in trouble.

NaNoWriMo Word Count 191106

Book III: Chapter II: Dresden's Childhood

Okay, I haven’t udpated for ages. Haven’t written much, and have had many doubts as to the feasibility of actually writing 50,000 words. But I’ll push through till the end, and if it doesn’t happen, there’s always next year. Current word count stands at 11,335. You may miss the story, but this chapter’s a mini-story all by itself, so here you have it:

When Dresden was but a boy, he used to have a pet chicken. This chicken was very dear to him, and he loved it a lot. He even gave this chicken a name: “Chi”

Chi was a normal kampung chicken, with feathers as white as snow, but since it was always covered with mud, people didn’t know that. But Dresden himself knew that Chi was white, and he always told the others, but nobody knew it.

“Chi’s white inside. You can’t just look at his outside and declare him black.”

“Sure, Dres, we believe you,” was the usual reply.

Whenever Dres came back from school, Chi would cluck noisily, in anticipation for the wormy feast that Dres was sure to give him. Dres never disappointed Chi in this respect, always giving him the freshest, longest worms he could find. Sometimes when Dres didn’t have the time to look for these worms himself, he even went to the pet shop and got some professionally grown worms, which cost up to a dollar a packet, depending on the season. For Dres (he was 9 years of age at this time), this was a huge amount.

Dres didn’t come from a rich family, and his family often disapproved of his love for Chi. They felt that a boy his age should concentrate on his studies, and not put in so much time and effort in caring for a chicken.

The way Chi came into Dresden’s life was a little perculiar as well. One day, on a field trip, he visited a chicken farm. At the farm, these people were selling all sorts of baby animals, including chickens, ducks, pigs, and even rats. Dresden fell in love with the chicks there, and immediately sought out how he might obtain one for his personal pleasure.

“How much are those chicks at the window?” asked Dresden to the farmer.

“Which one?” asked the farmer, and he looked at the window.

“The one with the waggly tail,” said Dresden, pointing to the chick with an overgrown tail feather.

“I’m sorry,” said the farmer, “but he’s not for sale.”

“Cluck cluck,” said the chick to the farmer, when he knew he was being eyed by Dresden.

The farmer, having been in this line for years, understood what the chicken had said. To Dresden, “cluck cluck” was just a sound that chickens made, and not anything else. To the farmer, it was, “let me be with the young boy, farmer, I cannot stand being cooped up in this window. If you will let me go, I promise you that I will spread only good words about you. I will tell every animal I see that your farm is an animal heaven, and I will spread the good word.”

The farmer, who in his spare time was a carpenter as well, thought a little bit about this. He did not wish to sell this chick, for he knew that this chick was special. It always praised the farmer, and preached to the other animals the virtue of this farmer. He even told them how this farmer walked on water before.

The farmer called this chick “John”.

“Okay,” said the farmer finally. “I’ll let you have this chick, but on one condition.”

“Yes? What might that condition be?” asked Dresden.

“That you promise to take good care of it. He is one of my favourites,” replied the farmer.

“Okay, I promise I will do that. I will hug him and squeeze him and love him!” answered Dresden, excitedly.

And thus, Dresden came to be the master of Chi, though everyone knew that Chi had a power over Dresden that made it seem that the chicken was more of the master than Dres was. But Dres didn’t mind. Games of domination were not for him, and all he wanted to do was make Chi happy.

Chi was no ordinary chicken. It had expensive tastes. Once, when it wanted a chick-phone, the latest phone that chickens use to communicate with each other over long distances, it asked Dresden for it. Chick-phones didn’t come cheap, and Dresden had to work for almost a year before being able to come up with that money.

By that time, chick-phones were no longer in vogue, and when Dresden got it for Chi the following year for Christmas, Chi was most disappointed. Dres cried after knowing of Chi’s disappointment, and asked Chi what it was that he wanted. Chi mentioned that he wanted to be left alone, and Dresden granted it its wish.

That Christmas, while Chi was sleeping, the very hurt Dresden decided that he was going to surprise Chi with a new present that would make Chi happen again, and he decided that he would choose Valentine’s to give it to it, for it was the next special occasion of gift-giving.

When Valentine’s came about, Dresden showed Chi what he had got it: a box of worm chocolates. Chi was so touched it started crying, and forgave Dres straight away. Dres felt relieved that Chi had at long last had forgiven him, and he decided to go out to celebrate with a few of his human friends.

Dres was at this time about 11-years-old. After his heavy night of drinking, he came back, drunk as a sober man who had drunk a bottle too much of wine, and went into the play-pen of Chi.

Feeling hungry at that time, he did not see Chi as Chi, but rather saw Chi as a chicken. He went to the kitchen, and returned yielding a knife. Chi looked up, and screamed, “cluck! Cluck!” But Dresden was too drunk to know what he was doing.

He took the knife and slashed Chi a few times, severely injuring Chi, which was a full-fledged chicken by now, but not killing him. Then he proceeded to slowly and painfully pluck out Chi’s feathers one by one, all the while Chi was screaming in pain, “cluck!”

When Chi was totally defeathered, it lay on its side, too ashamed to do or say anything, all the while as Dresden looked on. Then Dresden picked Chi up, which was visibly shaken, and threw it into the microwave. He set the microwave at 10 minutes, left the kitchen, and went straight to bed.

When Dres awoke the next morning, he realised that his room smelt of a wet market. That smell of blood and staleness hung in the air like a ghost that refuses to go away. He went to the toilet and realised his whole body was stained with blood. Shocked, he fainted.

When he awoke, he yet again saw the blood, and fainted yet again. The third time he rose again, but this time he stayed conscious. He quickly ran to the kitchen as images of what happened that night resurfaced in his mind, and, opening the microwave, fainted for the fourth time.

In the microwave was a cooked Chi, burnt almost beyond recognition. The only thing that made Dres know that it was Chi was that splattered on the wall of the microwave was not only blood, but wormy chocolate as well, the very chocolate had had given to Chi the previous day.

Dres cried and cried, but it was no use. No matter what he did from this time onward, he was always going to be the person with a traumatic childhood, and not even Freud would be able to save him now.

Dres scooped up the remains of Chi and put it into the box of wormy-chocolates. He then dug a hole in his garden and put the box inside, then covered it. A shallow grave for a shallow chicken. The epitaph of Chi read:

Here lies a chicken
Cooked beyond perfection
Original and unseasoned
Burned beyond recognition
Loved by Dresden
Killed by Dresden
Love kills—
Love not. – Dresden