Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Muse's Farewell

Once upon a time there was a girl. She thought of too many things, dreamed of even more. She believed in a few things, hoped for even fewer. She questioned too much, but answered all by herself. She smiled too much, but never knew if she was happy.

One evening, on a ceasing winter's day, she met her Hero.

She never thought she would meet a Hero. He had wild dreams, and wilder ways. He cared not for things usual, but pursued things that others had no time for. He was her Hero and she cared not for what he was, because she knew only of what he would become. Her thoughts, dreams, beliefs, hopes, questions and answers, smiles were all for the Hero.

He called her his Muse. And she felt special to be his Muse. Was there any greater joy than to be an inspiration? The Muse and the Hero, they marched along that dangerous path of discovery and adventure. There were many ideas to be ensnared and many to be enslaved. He would conquer, she would guide. He would wonder, she would reflect. Life began to run, but time had slowed down. What was time but a construct of science meant to keep mere mortals on their toes? Why think of time when the imagination begged to explore other passions?

One afternoon, on a reluctant rainy day, she saw the first fall.

It was as if she had been knocked down a long flight of stairs and had collided with a solid wind. That solid wind had turned into a sea, that carried her and sank her, then brought her floating up to be charred by the sun and then calmed by the night's tide. She could have left, but she stayed on. She didn't want to be a bad Muse.

The sun rose and sank. Ships left harbors and charged into storms. Buds bloomed and leaves shed. Snow fell and fires burned. Something gave, everyone took. Seasons fled, time dipped into decay. She stayed in a corner, called when needed.  But she didn't know if she was there because she was called or because she was needed. She didn't even know if she was needed at all. She didn't know if she was even wanted at all. Maybe there were others who wanted her.

She saw herself falling. She watched as her Hero fell. She tried to help her Hero rise, while trying to help herself from fading away. The Muse and the Hero stumbled and picked up, fighting and faring along. Sometimes she would watch her Hero, with real people and the real world and try to ascertain where she was. She would see the sun, from under the deep ocean and know not how far from the surface she was.

One morning, on a summer night's end, she began to question. 

Does a Muse choose her Hero and make him a Hero? Or does a Hero find a Muse and give her the status of a Muse? Does anyone care for the Muse when there is a Hero? What does a Muse ever do to leave behind for herself, apart from the shadows of the Hero's footsteps? Can a Muse's only existence be to inspire and not ask for anything more? What does the Muse do after her Hero leaves for another Muse, for another life?
Was that all that was left of her being a Muse- being just a feeble spark on the dim horizon?

Or does every Muse fail when she begins to dream of her Hero turning into Pygmalion? Can a Muse never dream or hope, but only support those of her Hero? Could the Muse leave on her own accord or did she have to hang around till she was forgotten? Was there any greater misery than to be just a Muse?

She realized she knew all the answers, but didn't like them at all. So she kept questioning till she was exhausted of all her answers and knew there was no escaping the questions. She asked till she couldn't fight the answers, till she defeated the questions.

One wintry night, past some springs and monsoons, the Muse decided to cease to be.

She looked out of her window, and knew she cannot look outside anymore. She had to bid farewell to the Muse that had been for a Hero. She had to bid farewell to the caterpillar and the statue. She had to leave the depths of the ocean for the cliffs above. She had to stare at the sun straight in its face.

There were dreams to be chanced upon, thoughts to be given attention to. There were beliefs to be wrestled with, hopes to be given birth to. There were questions to be chased, answers to be discovered. There were seasons to be seen, places to be experienced. There were things to be done. There was time to be reclaimed.

There were swaying fields and dropped arms, cotton clouds and burdened orchard trees, fiery sunrises and unfettered souls, and other such inconsequential sights to smile for without asking why.


  1. lovely story, alpana! :)

    ps: what happened to the salesman? if you've thought of the ending, spill it here! don't wait for us to forget the beginning :)

  2. @Kris- Thank you.
    I'm working on the second part of The Salesman story. Will try and post it by the end of this week. :)

  3. Anonymous7:08 AM

    The sense of freedom I felt in the concluding lines were such a sharp contrast to the shackles that came to mind in the preceding ones. Brilliantly composed and laid down Alpana.

  4. Beautiful.

    "... inconsequential sights to smile for without asking why."

    I think we spoke recently about how people don't smile about enough things. It really seems to me like the entire piece was written just so that that line could exist. And it is a very worthy existence.

  5. @Ree- Thank you. :)

    @Samir- :) I think we spoke about that after I had written this. But since it's such an everlasting thought (ideal), the timing doesn't matter much. :)


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