At Swim, Two Boys

Just like almost everything else in life, if you look closely, there is a pattern to seemingly random events. Or rather, without much strain, you can see that there is pattern to events that are supposed to be wildly random.

Almost a year ago, in July 2015 when I was in Chennai, my friends group from Trivandrum made a short notice plan to go explore Pondicherry and before we knew we were already in Pondicherry having fun! And weather made quick plans like us and a rather sunny day turned rainy as we watched (I should have taken a hint at that point about the Dublin visit). To escape from the rain, we ran to the nearest building which happened to be a book store. Among the books that captured my interest that day was a book that inspired a dance by Earthfall I somehow came across and looked interesting because it is set against a backdrop of a waterfall and the stage is a slowly filling lake- At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Neill.atswim

I bought the book.

The book is not exactly gentle in the first 100-150 pages. Jamie O’Neill fishes the most beautiful words from all over the dictionary, cooks them in choicest of, what I assume are, phrases from Irish period vocabulary and serves you with a side of history of Irish Easter Rising. It sure is yummy but it takes a while getting used to. The book is set in 1915-16 Dublin and tells the tale of two boys Jim and Doyler set to the backdrop of Irish struggle for Independence from the British. I would write about this wonderful book and its story of love, war, poverty, self-acceptance and war some other time.

And before I finished this book, I am assigned to a project in the very Dublin the book is set in. What are the odds? At that point I didn’t even know we had projects in Dublin.

I carried the book with me to Dublin.

While walking back home from a cinema last day, I saw a poster for the play At Swim, Two boys. I am like, Whoa!! I ran across the road, clicked a picture of the poster and came home and booked tickets for the next show.

The play is one of the most beautiful man made things I have ever seen. Samuel Beckett Theater in Trinity College is quite brilliantly set into a multi level asymmetric stage where the whole of the play happens with absolutely no break in flow save for the short intermission. Fenna von Hirschheydt who designed a space like that should be doing our public spaces; such a clever use of space. The same set is a pier, beach, bedroom, living room of multiple houses and often simultaneously and you need not be Sabu Cyril to visualize the parts of the scene not depicted in the minimalist set.

But for me without question the best part of the show was the brilliant acting by the lead pair, Jim and Doyler. Or was it their adorable Irish accent? If I was Doyler, I could kill to hear Jim call me Doyler.

Kerill Kelly made Jim such an endearing character. The innocence in his eyes, despite lack of evidence, I would call fake. You can’t look that innocent and naïve at this age. It just is not humanly possible. I have no idea how he does that. A very mature young actor. Intentional or not, I think I saw the whole play through his eyes. Attention to details is amazing. While sitting with legs in water the way his foot plays with the imaginary water was the most memorable part of the play for me.

In no way is other actors any lesser than him, just that Jim is the most lovable character. Theo Foley is brilliant and oozes confidence. Doyler looks considerably different than how I had him pictured in my head.

Anthony MacMurrough convincingly convert the initial slight hatred we might feel to the character to a sort of love and respect. And oh Nancy! Love you! ❤

How did Tim Scott adapt that mammoth of a book to such a short time frame without losing the essence of it? The screen-play, to layman’s eyes, have done justice to the novel.

Would have loved to get my copy of the book signed by the Author and the lead pair!

I think my disappointment of having missed Khasakkinte Ithihasam play in Bangalore has vanished. Seeing a play based on a book you have read is an inexplicable feeling. If you think movie adaptations are good, trust me plays are the best. Remember the childhood days when you thought the actors lived inside the TV, that is how you feel when you see a play. No start-action-cut and retakes. People live the characters right before your eyes.

In one year, picked a random book from a random bookstore and ended up traveling to a country and city where the book is set and see a play based on the very same book. Hmmmm…

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Deferred Dreams
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Deferred Dreams

What happens to dreams ​deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

~Langston Hughes

I am touched by this moving piece of pure poem. What happens to deferred dreams? I hope I will never have to find out.

Loved it that I made a wallpaper for my computer.

Deferred Dreams

A little boy I met once

School BoyI really like certain type of English short stories. And only after browsing through the Guttenberg Archive I mentioned in the previous post, that I came to know that more than half of the stories I love are by O.Henry. Thanks to the NCERT syllabus. I still cherish those short stories in the ‘Read for Pleasure’ reader as well as the text book. And that is why I bought “Great Works of O Henry: 157 Stories’ at a Book Fair at Ernakulam yesterday.

Reading a few stories from that book reminded me of a little boy I met once. And I want to tell you about him.

And it is after sitting down to write something here that I realize how poor I am in writing. So many things strike me and I think “Why don’t I write that?!” but then, even before switching the computer on, I give up the idea due to sheer laziness.

It was during the monsoons in 2001 or 2002. I was a school going boy. And near to that junction that always smelled of freshly ground coffee, stand a girl and her two younger brothers waiting to board the school bus, everyday. Even though I will be running to catch my bus, we used to wish each other a good morning. I don’t remember when did it start, but I remember that it had become a routine.

I never realized that this was so much a part of my routine until one day when they were absent – all three of them. As I was nearing the junction I could see that they were not there. I looked at my watch. No I was not early (; nor late.). I felt as if I was unable to do something which I should have done.

But as I was passing the street light under which they used to stand, I heard a “Good Morning”. I turned back. No. they were not there. But I was sure that I heard it. And then from a group of boys which just passed me and going in the opposite direction, a smart one turned back and smiled. I smiled too. He wished me by bowing his head a little and smiled. I wished him too.

It was then that I realized that wishing that girl and her brothers a good morning was something I did daily. And this little boy who was in his fifth standard then noticed it everyday. From that day onwards I think I was eager to meet this little one with so much charisma. He had a radiating personality. Though we never talked anything except a good morning for the next 7-8 months, we had developed a kind of rapport. (At least that is what I think). And then I asked him his name. He told some name I had never heard before (and after). I remember that it sounded something like … or I’m not posting it here. And next year I changed school and had different bus timing. And I never met him again. I asked a student of his age from that school once if he knew this guy. He remembers that there was someone who fits my description who studied there, but he changed school and they have no idea where is he now.

I wish he read this some day and send me a mail telling how to spell his name. I seriously hope to find him some day. To be frank I still miss him when I pass that junction.
Any of you have similar experiences?

The Last Leaf

I woke up today morning thinking of this story I’ve been cherishing ever since I read it in my younger classes…. So for all others who remember this and for those who forgot… and ofcourse for those who never read this wonderful story by O.Henry

The Last Leaf

by O. Henry (1862-1910)

In a little district west of Washington Square the streets have run crazy and broken themselves into small strips called “places.” These “places” make strange angles and curves. One Street crosses itself a time or two. An artist once discovered a valuable possibility in this street. Suppose a collector with a bill for paints, paper and canvas should, in traversing this route, suddenly meet himself coming back, without a cent having been paid on account!

So, to quaint old Greenwich Village the art people soon came prowling, hunting for north windows and eighteenth-century gables and Dutch attics and low rents. Then they imported some pewter mugs and a chafing dish or two from Sixth Avenue, and became a “colony.”

At the top of a squatty, three-story brick Sue and Johnsy had their studio. “Johnsy” was familiar for Joanna. One was from Maine; the other from California. They had met at the table d’hôte of an Eighth Street “Delmonico’s,” and found their tastes in art, chicory salad and bishop sleeves so congenial that the joint studio resulted.

That was in May. In November a cold, unseen stranger, whom the doctors called Pneumonia, stalked about the colony, touching one here and there with his icy fingers. Over on the east side this ravager strode boldly, smiting his victims by scores, but his feet trod slowly through the maze of the narrow and moss-grown “places.”

Mr. Pneumonia was not what you would call a chivalric old gentleman. A mite of a little woman with blood thinned by California zephyrs was hardly fair game for the red-fisted, short-breathed old duffer. But Johnsy he smote; and she lay, scarcely moving, on her painted iron bedstead, looking through the small Dutch window-panes at the blank side of the next brick house.

One morning the busy doctor invited Sue into the hallway with a shaggy, gray eyebrow.

“She has one chance in – let us say, ten,” he said, as he shook down the mercury in his clinical thermometer. ” And that chance is for her to want to live. This way people have of lining-u on the side of the undertaker makes the entire pharmacopoeia look silly. Your little lady has made up her mind that she’s not going to get well. Has she anything on her mind?” Continue reading