This is a story about Sam, an Indian Druglord with an obsession for alcohol, businesss, coupling and drugs. His life is filled with confusion, turbulence and consistent brooding and he is on a quest for peace and tranquility. He then meets a beautiful home designer Rina, who attempts to bring peace into his life. The centerpiece of this story is a Tromp l'oeil- a mysterious painting on a wall.
He stares at the beautiful piece of porcelain adorning his blood red, Sabyasachi Mukherjee futon. She sleeps like a tired, innocent lamb going all out to seduce the severe blade of a thirsty butcher knife.
“Not today,” he says to himself. “Her designing is officially seeing the end of the tunnel today. She could use a good night’s rest.”
He shakes off what is buzzing in his head, extends his right arm over her satin-smooth shirt and reaches for the light-dimmer on the headboard. A mellow yellow light now bathes the lifelike shadows of all the Goddesses standing on the mantelpiece and the live, dreaming Goddess beside him.
Sleep evades him, as is the case every other night. Gazillion things are forever buzzing in his head; they mostly concern his Bermuda quadrangle ‘A B C D’- alcohol, business, coupling, drugs, not necessarily in that order though. Tonight, however, the insomnia is truly justified- he simply could not get over something that lay outside the purview of his ABCD. He could not get over his fantabulously soulful bedroom-facelift. When he met her, he originally intended for his bedroom to become a livelier, more livable place, as against the heavy, overbearing Tuscan theme of the rest of his house. He only wanted her to try and quell the perpetual, intensive A B C D brooding in the quiet of his bedchamber. But he didn’t expect this- she fed a little of his soul to every little thing she’d done here. For example, he wanted her to make a small space in the room for the person he loved the most- his deceased wife, a smaller Taj Mahal of sorts, which would just about kiss the fondness he would always have for her, without evoking melancholy. He showed her around his wife’s boudoir. She could have chosen to get something very obvious, like a designer sari or some very expensive jewelry. Instead, she chose to frame a peacock feather that lay buried in the first page of his bible- a page that had ‘To Sam. This book will carrie you through life. Your loving wife, Carrie.’ lovingly scribbled across it. He looks at the peacock feather frame, bang in between his favorite Greek Goddesses on the mantelpiece- it reads the same.
A Shaw Rug with an interestingly sewn assortment of cloth-converted photos of the many places he had visited and a glue chip glass bookcase behind the headboard that has on its surface a jumbled, phosphate-white etching of the characters, chapters, plots he had underlined in his books are indeed refreshing extensions of himself. Sam’s eyes now rest on her grand finale- a trompe l’oeil painted across an entire sidewall. He recalls the conversation they had earlier on in the day, when he finally got around for the special unveiling.
“Rina, you almost got me there. I thought that door on the wall really opened out to some kind of a secret pathway.”
“You only wish. (Laughs)That, in any case is the intention. This is a Trompe l’oeil- the tyranny of artistic deception. It is a painting on the wall that makes the image as real as possible. It lends a deceptive, illusory 3d effect to what is really only a 2d painting.”
“You gave me an indication that every move of yours in this room jives with something in my inner soul, funny as it did sound when you said that. (Winks) So, does this mural mean I’m a conman? (Laughs loud) ”
“Laugh all you care. I don’t really want to get into what this one on your wall is, what it means, or its relevance. It could well be another brick in the wall, or in this case- on the wall (she smiles), or it could make a huge wall and world of a difference. An artist like me only lives on elevating the experience the onlooker has. Believe me- I’ll live to hear you narrate that experience. ”
Sam looks at the door that opens out to some kind of a pathway in the midst of a forest.
“Elevating experience? Elevation must only be for cowards in the dumps, for those who bow before gravity and for those who lick the dust off destiny’s feet. Elevation, my foot! The quadrilateral of Alcohol, business, coupling and drugs keeps me high; even gravity could never pull me off my high ground.”
a.. b.. c.. d.. Sam drifts into a slight slumber.
Sam could feel himself getting up from his bed. His head feels light and floaty. He zips up his Kellsport full zipper sweatshirt, ducks a little- pulls the hood over his head and buries his chilly hands deep into the front pockets. The door stands ajar, a hint of a pathway shows up and the sinister passage begs Sam’s curiosity to take the upper hand. Sam decides that he needs to take a walk. “Curiosity,” he thinks, “is a dangerous alibi.”
Bang! The door shuts its back on his beautiful room and its even more beautiful occupant. Sam starts the march down the path. He doesn’t find anything all that sinister- a normal path and an even more normal sensation.
“I guess curiosity keeps a secret way more seductive than its ultimate discovery.”
The new room and its manifold soulful manifestations are left far behind. He gets back to thinking about his a b c d. Soon he returns to his regular permutations and combinations of thinking patterns. He breaks into a jog.
His three-day stubble stands peaked and peeved, the black pupils move around like two belligerent blackberries that aren’t exactly loving all the moving around together, the small beads of brine lick at his smooth, supple and dark skin right through the bristly arrowhead-brows and the stubble sheaf; he shrugs out of his hood, the raven hair on his head releases like a muddled mop of Cupid’s curls. His heart pounds in his chest , as he whizzes into a steady run.
Sam hears the pulse pounding up to his ears. His hands and legs move in synchronization, as if they always had a mind of their own. The heady swirls in his head transform into whirlwinds that visibly touch and go every now and then. Disturbing scenes turn and churn in his head as shifting frames, each fame an amalgamation of a hundred square puzzle pieces.
A few of the puzzle pieces that appear quite repeatedly are:
- Sam lying unconscious, on a Turkey carpet alongside an empty Jack Daniels.
- The most beautiful Bong bombshell crushing grapes and making wine in his own vineyard at Brézème, France…
- A particular twenty acres of his Cannabis/poppy drug fields in Kullu Manali and Chamba under special narcotics cell surveillance…
- A little farmer girl rolling the hash (the cannabis drug’s leaves) in between her tiny hands…
- His man at Kullu paying the farmer Rs.10…
-The first time he made love with his now dead wife on a hayloft- his wife has a light halo around her head…
-The Lebanese belly dancer in a black bedlah with groovy gyrations, beckoning him to ‘feel’ her gyrations…
-His eighteen year old son rolling a joint alongside his doped friends, and he not being able to exercise his paternal love or care because of being the Drug lord himself.
Suddenly, everything turns black. He can’t see a thing- all the bling in his head goes into a monotone ding. The ground below him is only a gliding tectonic plate that might give way to emptiness any darn moment. The shifting frames and puzzles in his head deform at a deafening pace and dissolve like a melting ice mannequin into the dark void vacuuming him. All his cranial reverberations smash to a grinding halt. He is in some form of a black hole and after a long time, instead of letting his head take stock of gazillion things, he is taken stock of by the gaping, high gravitational hole.
His arms flailing, he gropes around to get a hold onto something, anything….
At first, Sam feels fear. This fear rises from his smothered chest and comes out in the form of a slow grasp- a slight burp. And just like a burp releases the gas inside, this one expels the fear in the hollow of his unsteady frame.
Now, Sam just feels an easy equanimity. His pulse relaxes and the damning vortex along with its crazy, dark windstorms only prove to be a calming balm. His skin feels pebble smooth and cool, his stubble sheaf moves like tiny, chirpy wind-spurred waves on green grass blades, his eyelids open and shut on two mischievous bubbles that gurgle with energy, his hands and legs move about in absolutely uncalculated movements akin to the easy, unorganized motilities of the tentacles of a perky octopus. Sam is so self absorbed in this whirlpool of happiness that all his erstwhile worries have ebbed away into the fringes of faraway shores.
Sam only feels his own substance: fresh, uncluttered, unrestrained and clean.
All of a sudden, someone curbs Sam’s tentacle-like moves. He tries to shake free from the interruption, but in vain. He squints open his eyes and stares at a beautiful woman. He gets up and sits up with his mouth stark open on a blood red futon, HIS blood red futon. Reality tumbles on him as do her tresses on her satin silk shirt. She smiles at him. His lips twitch a little before his lips curve into a knowing, saucer-shaped smile.
“It has been such an……… elevating experience.”
“I knew it would be. So tell me about it (smiles).”
Sam looks at the open door, the tromp l’oeil and the mysterious path. “I’ve come to realize that no matter who and what are on your mind, it is important to know that at the end of the day, there’s only one person who lives with you till the last breath, and that one person is YOU yourself. It is important to take time out and pamper the self.”
“So, is elevation really required for someone who’s A B C D keeps him on perpetual high ground (winks)?”
“Everyone has got to bow down to self. I’ve got myself back today. Thank you Rina.”
“My doors are always open to you (smiles).”
“I know. Your doors (and he points to the door in the Trompe l’oeil) are not only open to me- they also open me, my mind and my self. While you were sleeping, prior to my ‘elevating’ experience, I was itching to get you up and ask you something huge. You looked too tired to disturb back then.” His blackcurrant eyes will her to comply.
She sees a definitive change- a soothing mildness caressing his firm features, a sea of placid peace engulfing his soul and an inner radiance shooting out from those blackcurrant twirls. A small excitement stirs in the pit of her stomach and rumbles upward in expectation. “I think I know what you want.”
“So will you agree and show me the green signal or show me the door?”
“I already have shown you ‘the door’ (winks); this time around, I think I’d rather try out some other door- maybe one that opens to a green
“My house is ready for you. My rooms are at your disposal. My heart is all open to something new and fresh (pauses for a long minute and keeps the tension alive).
Redecorate, refurbish, renovate and reignite my entire house. You’re the only designer who could transform cold brick and stone to warm home and hearth.This project is all yours. ”
Rina’s excitement breaks to the surface- her face lights up with unconditional joy, her eyes twinkle with frenzied anticipation, her brain sizzles with a cornucopia of colours, textures, paintings, artifacts and designs, her body sways and shakes with pure, palpitating madness. She finally gets her biggest break. Page 3 Tabloids would soon boast of the headline she’d always dreamt of: ‘Rina Khiandra, the golden decorator of the biggest hotshots in India.’ There is a perfect zing to that headline and it definitely is going to be a riveting roller-coaster ahead.
“This has always been my dream. This will be my dream project. This will be your dream home. You will discover your dream SELF.”