They say there are not many living souls who do not nurture an aspiration at the age of adolescence. Swayam Jamwal was that one of the few. No dreams found abode in his mind during his childhood or adolescence. Neither had he invited them. However, this story unfolds the layers of a carefree mind and the journey to find his aspiration.
Situated on the banks of river Yamuna, the city of Agra is rich with historical architectures and the magical allure of the Taj Mahal. This is also the birthplace of Swayam. But, he couldn’t care less about this city. Born in a middleclass family, he had restricted himself to his own world, a world of video games, which was. Soon, it had reached a level of addiction. His mother had to intervene to unshackle him from his virtual captivity. She had rationed his playtime with strict measures. Swayam eventually cracked open his shell and tasted the sweat and mud of the real world. He excelled in sports with time. Was it a hint? Had any tiny bubble of aspiration popped up inside? Negative. It was nothing but a source of amusement to fill the absence of video games.
His marks at school were consistently good. He had secured a seat in engineering in a college of repute.
“A degree in software engineering followed by a job in an MNC and career is sorted. What else do I need?” thought the boy in his same old casual manner.
However, life was about to take the most unexpected turn. A cocooned soul was about to find a way to burst out with the aspiration to fly high.
Politics and current affairs drew his attention. The more he read the more he felt engrossed. His perfect plan to get a degree and bag a showoff job screeched and went off the road. Swayam along with one of his friends launched a page on facebook, ‘Nazariyan’. He started scribbling opinions on current events and political happenings. In no time, the page boomed among youngsters. To his utter surprise, Swayam discovered that he had a flair for writing.
Nazariyan’s success was worthy to celebrate. However, still in the baffling mode, Swayam was oblivious to the recognition his Nazariyan was receiving. Well, what were friends for? It was their moral duty to escort him to disco and holler in the name of his success. He too loosened up. Suddenly, the noise stopped. The throbbing of his heart was the only audible sound. He could see not a single soul except her as if, all the lights were focusing on her yet her illuminating presence was fading them all. His eyes refused to move forgetting the passage of time. But, valour did appear. He reached her and introduced himself. A new chapter started.
Mugdha Wasin, the girl from the disco, was associated with a publication house. Love can make us do great things. Swayam followed that path too. To enter the publication house and be around that girl, his pen proved to be the most trusted ally. He stepped into the world of fiction. As he started writing fiction, he felt mesmerized by the fact that, he could scribble his own perspective and fantasies. This newfound world liberated him, as Nazariyan was more about people and the interpretation of their thought. Eventually, he fell in love with books as well. The Jeffery Archer series won his heart.
It all felt good till the relationship lasted. However, Swayam and Mugdha parted their ways, as fate would have it.
“Never seek the wind in the field—it is useless to try and find what is gone,” disheartened, he kept reminding himself a quote from his favourite book, Kane and Abel by Jeffery Archer.
Still, the burn remained there for long. He continued scribbling, but the passion was lost. He felt hollow inside. He was unsure of the path life was taking him on. The final year of engineering ended. He wanted to picture himself five years down the line. A blurred image corrupted his vision. And, ambiguity voted for MBA. However, academics again failed to win his attention. Days felt as mundane as they could be.
‘Expect the unexpected,’ the rule of life they say. Swayam believed it only when fate sprinkled its magic on him. A phone call left him baffled. Other side, a mellifluous voice informed him that Mr. Virendra Gujral, a movie director would love to meet Swayam in the evening. The director wished to make a movie based on one of his fictions. The words cascaded down through his ears. But, Swayam could barely believe even a syllable of it. The voice sensed his bewilderment and repeated the message. He finally noted down the details for the proposed rendezvous.
As the orange ball in the sky sank for the day, Swayam got himself ready and hit the road. A young boy showed him to Mr. Gujral’s chamber. He checked his watch for the tenth time. He was early. However, it seemed the hands of his wristwatch were moving much slower. With his sweaty hand, he picked up the glass offered to him and gulped the remaining water. Mr. Gujral entered the room and greeted him with warmth. His friendly approach slowly put Swayam at ease. His amazement knew no boundary when Virendra told him that he had read many of his stories. He believed some of Swayam’s work had the potential to be presented on the big screen. He had finalized the story published as ‘Dear Diary’. He was awaiting Swayam’s consent to start the project.
The call time was set at nine in the morning. Swayam still had an hour. He opened the window of his room. The morning breeze caressed him gently. The sun was beaming in the sky unfurling its soft rays on the beautiful city of Shimla. He felt alive. Spring had already knocked on the door. But, winter was too lazy to wrap up. The mid March weather in hilly Shimla still felt chilly. First few scenes Virendra had decided to shoot in Shimla. Swayam accompanied. As he reached the set, the hullaballoo was at the full swing.
After half an hour or so, the director checked the monitor and said those three words, “Lights… camera… action”. Swayam was spellbound. “Cut,” the director shouted. His voice broke Swayam’s trance. A moment of awakening it was. He had at last found his dream to nurture with all his love and dedication.
The blurred image of his future became clear to him. To perform as a standup storyteller, that was the dream he wanted to accomplish. He planned to present himself in front of a crowd to measure his worth. For months, he had become a regular visitor in the clubs that arrange open mike shows. He approached a few of them and auditioned for a chance. It was difficult to get one, as he was inexperienced in that field. However, his perseverance paid off. A club in south Delhi granted him an opportunity.
It was Saturday. By eight in the evening, the club would tend to get well crowded. That evening, it was no different. In the green room, Swayam was sitting alone. His heart was throbbing audibly just as it did when he met Mugdha. It was his first step towards his dream. Anxious, he could feel the churning of his stomach.
“Fortune favours the brave,” again a quote from Kane and Abel, he closed his eyes and murmured.
The anchor announced his name on stage. Swayam Jamwal was ready to perform.
His life experiences and stories with a generous sprinkle of comedy, he presented on stage. A few rounds of half-suppressed snickers, his performance managed to evoke that day. After the show, disappointed, he called his father.
The wise man gave him a piece of advice, “Do not be disheartened if you have failed to reach success. Scratch any hero and you will find a serious of failures”.
A year later, again it was a Saturday evening. The anchor announced, “Please welcome The Storyteller Swayam Jamwal”. The unending rounds of applause were enough to let him know that he had succeeded in achieving his dream. In the front row, Mr. & Mrs. Sanjay Jamwal, the proud parents of the storyteller were beaming with joy and lauding their son.
Meanwhile, the writer in him too was collecting accolades. One of his fictions had achieved a record number of readers. Eventually, worthy offers by producers and directors found their way to Swayam. He had given his consent to a production house of repute to make a movie on it, but put a condition. He wanted to assist the director. One more aspiration had dared to popup in his mind. As a director, he could tell a story through the characters.
Had he made it? That’s another story for another time.
Picture Courtesy: James Coleman
The above story is an entry into #Aspirations an Artale Greenhorns-2, Feathers Club Exclusive writing event entry.
Check out event guidelines here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/artale-greenhorns-2/
Check out Anwesha’s space here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/author/anweemazumder/