The Pitch Called Life

>> Friday, June 01, 2007

The sun rose with all its majestic beauty, overpowering the evanescent moon and the few remaining ephemeral stars, alighting the dark hills in a golden frame. However, this was completely inconsequential to Ganga Kishore Bandhopadhyay and I, who were seated in my club, in one of the most urban localities in Kolkata, nine hours after the sun had so risen, two hundred kilometers away. Sunrises here are visualized on television screens. Ditto for sunsets and all the other natural phenomena the Romantics seemed to be so fond of eulogizing about. Modern poets are much more inclined towards the global unification, doubtlessly to gain access to a cheaper Macdonald’s.

“So, how has your ‘Midnight Murders’ fared,” I questioned my lunchmate, a beatific smile playing on my lips, as it usually does after I partake of heavy, oil laden or chocolate coated victuals, a smile profitable to all waiters and beggars in the vicinity. Food does to me what Rome did to Caesar. I come, I see, I conquer. My vision of Utopia is one where desserts can be consumed without facing any qualms in fear of gaining calories. My demeanor at this point of time was convincing enough for all atheists to believe that God was in heaven and everything was all right with the world. However, my companion did not seem so assured. He raised morose eyes towards me, sighed and went into a brown study.

“Hullo, Ganga, are you feeling all right,” I asked him with incredulous amazement, astonished at the fact that one could not feel all right after consuming five thousand, seven hundred and forty six calories in the guise of cordon bleu continental cooking.

“Scrapped”, a cry came from the bottom of his heart. “ Not good enough! The murderer is apparently obvious even before the murder is committed and anyway, the cause of the murder was unconvincing rendering it needless! Unrequired! Hah! Oh, the unfairness! Where is the equality which made our country famous? Where is the freedom of expression?”

Ganga Kishore Bandhopadhyay, a friend ever since I had discovered what teeth are actually intended for, was born to be a clerk. Clerkdom beckoned to him as a flame beckons to a moth. However, while passing through the phase of vulnerable teenage, a reckless astrologer had predicted great success for him in the field of creativity and my friend turned into an aspiring Agatha Christie, avoiding any allusions to gender confusion. Yet, the gods of murder mystery writers had apparently missed him during the blessing ceremony and success eluded him the way I elude cholestrol-free diets.

“Umm… That is such a tragedy. Talent is seldom appreciated nowadays. People never realize it when brilliance knocks their door.” I tried to fake some sympathy on my round and satiated face, which effused contentment. “So what are your plans for the future?”

“The critics have predicted that I will be a hopeless failure in this field. Why do I live?” I avoided saying that I had been asking this to myself ever since I had known him and persisted with the sympathetic look envisioning chocolate-coated wafers.

“Now I have no other option left,” he continued.” I think I will have to turn into a poet.”

“A what,” I reeled. “Where in the world did you acquire such an idea?”
I was completely taken back by Ganga’s statement. Ganga as a writer was overwhelming enough for my senses, but Ganga as a poet shook me to the core. My profound astonishment almost led me to miss his next words.

“…extremely impressed by the works of Arnold. My palm lines apparently are very similar to his. In fact I have even planned out my first poem.”

“ Indeed! That is marvellous!” Amazing would have stood more true. “What is it going to be about?”

“I am going to call it ‘The Pitch called Life’. It will reflect all the disappointments I have suffered in this lifetime. The starting goes something like this,
‘Oh how true it is my life can be called a pitch…’”
he sang out to the utter surprise of all people unfortunate enough to be seated within half a mile of him. Then he stopped abruptly looking uncomfortable.
“Well? What about the rest of the lines?” I queried, refraining from providing an opinion.

“That is where the tragedy lies,” he ejaculated. “ I cannot find a rhyme for pitch!”

“Oh, umm…..disappointing! How about ‘rich’?” was my brilliant rejoinder.

Ganga rolled his eyes and replied in the strained voice teachers employ for their mentally retarded students, “ What do you want me to write?
‘Oh how true it is that my life can be called a pitch,
Because I am tired, bored and rich!’
Where is the poetic beauty? Where is the lucidity of words?”

“Even I have to admit the lines sound ridiculous! How about ‘witch’?” But my help went unappreciated as he muttered something about his wife.

“Then why do not you use free verse,” was my next advice.
He tut-tutted. “Free verse is a form employed by amateurs”, implying he had been an expert since he was conceived.

Looking at his desperation, I was compelled to try and free him from all his worries.

“ Why can not you write another poem?”

“You do not understand! My senses have been completely overcome by this inspiration. I can not rest in peace until I have completed the poem,” he declared and went into throes of despondency.

“Oh, then, how about stitch?”

He shook his head. “Forget it, old friend! I will have to bear this burden myself, burn alone in the fire of my own creation! There is no escape for me now. Either I will complete this poem or embrace death. That is, after all, the only end for dreamers and believers. Today I might be laughed at. Tomorrow, when I am dead and decaying, I will be receiving accolades. This is the future I will face as will others after me who will make the mistake of believing in themselves,” and after making this highly dramatic speech he got up and went away leaving the entire burden of the unpaid bill on yours truly.

Another meeting between my friend and I was not in store for us. Two years later, while waiting for my poached eggs (sunny side up) one cold morning, I chanced across an article in a newspaper which reported the death of an obscure, aspiring poet, 'Gouri' Kishore Bandhopadhyay. He had died due to a massive stroke in a famous bookstore, with a dictionary in his hands. His last words apparently were “Pitch, rich, what?” I turned over to a culinary article in the next page.

Ritika Palit

4 scaly flippers:

Anonymous 1:52 am, August 17, 2007  

Not bad, not bad at all! Though the Wodehouse influence is apparent, still some of the stuff is quite original and funny!

ad libber 2:11 am, August 17, 2007  

Right on mark, I was all of 16 when i wrote this and thought Wodehouse was God (I still think that, Rhett Butler is Jesus though).
Its not only Wodehouse though, some of it is the not much known Christie humour. But, I hope, most of it came out of my brain.
Thank you.

Anonymous 1:20 am, August 18, 2007  

Christie? hmmm..I think I see it now that you told me. Christie humour is harder to spot,I think. On the other hand the last line was rather Saki-ish (or Poe-ish, both being masters of dark comedy).
Again, pretty good work! Espacially for someone who's all of 16, if you don't mind me saying so.

ad libber 2:41 am, August 19, 2007  

Right again, the last line was an attempt at a Saki-ish touch, one of my most favourite short story writers ever, this whole story is basically a conglomeration of the styles of all the authors I used to avidly read in those years, if I can be presumptuous enough to say that.

And its "who was all of 16".

Right now I am nearing the age where people stop calling me didi and start with aunty. *sigh*

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