Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A Girl's Gotta Do What A Girl's Gotta Do ... But The Magic Shall Continue ...

A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do ... But the magic shall continue ...

The Dream Pedlar turned four months old on Saturday. The first of the ‘tricks from my hat’ went up on the site on February 27, and Saturday’s story was the forty-third. 

43 is an odd number. It is also a prime number. It is just one level above the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything.

Not that any of the above has any bearing to the purpose of this post. But what is life without its element of madness? And right now, in my life, I feel as if I am caught up in a whirlwind. It is all good stuff, practical stuff. Matters essential to do this thing called living and to do it well. But this means there are too many demands on my time, and it appears as if this will be the case until early 2014. 

And so a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do ... 
Which means telling fewer tales, peddling fewer dreams ...
Making a little less magic than before ...
But the magic continues ...

One story with all my soul in it is not equal to two stories carrying half a heart each. 
The math may add up but the magic certainly doesn’t. 

And so going forward, the stories on Dream Pedlar will be posted only every Saturday. And this is only so as to give me some time to breathe, dream several other dreams and work on making them come true.

I thank you for being with me all this while, and I hope you will stay for as long as the madness and the magic continue.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

The Unknown Destinations of Paper Planes

The Unknown Destinations of Paper Planes - Image courtesy of Fiddle Oak

Paper planes are easy to make. The hardest bit is getting them to fly.

The first time I flung one, it soared upwards, hit the ceiling, and nosedived to land on my right foot. 

The first time I managed to fly one well enough was during Maths class in third grade. The plane landed below Suzie’s desk and tickled the nose of a little lizard that had been dozing under the desk in class. Shaken up by the flying piece of paper, the lizard darted across the desk, leaped on to Suzie’s lap, and made a bolt for the wall but not before she let out a shriek that caused our teacher to faint and brought the teachers from all other classrooms rushing into ours. And my paper plane lay innocuously under Suzie’s desk as an incontrovertible proof my guilt. (No one believed my story of the lizard, and Suzie insisted there had never been one, though she did roll her eyes and stick her tongue out at me when she thought no one else was looking.)

Sometimes my planes flew up and got stuck in the branches of trees. 
Sometimes they’d manage to get themselves snared in the jumble of electric wires atop tall poles. 
Often they’d just somersault in place and fall on my head. 

The only person I knew who knew how to make paper planes fly was my brother. And he refused to let me in on the secret. For seven years he derived pleasure in watching my clumsy efforts and laughing at my futile attempts. And when he planned to move to the city (in search of a better life), I worried that with him, his secret too would be gone forever. But when he boarded the bus and turned to wave at us from the window, he looked at me and yelled that they need to be told where to go.

I have since figured there are many ways to guide the planes to their destinations. Sometimes I just whisper to them before setting them on their way. Sometimes I scribble the names of places on them. My neighbour’s rooftop, the haunted oak tree at the edge of the fields, as far as the summer wind will take them, into my lover’s home, as high as the eagle soaring above the mountaintops, on the other side of the horizon.

I try to make bigger planes now. I hope some day they will be large enough for me to ride on them. And I will tell them to take me closer to you.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Little Muse who Lives in The Typewriter

The Little Muse who Lives in The Typewriter - Image courtesy of Fiddle Oak

Master had instructed me to never enter his study. 
The day I first showed up for work at the manor, he said I was to clean and tidy up the whole house everyday but that his study was strictly out of bounds.
And that of course means I have snooped around the study on every occasion that has since presented itself to me innocuously.

My first few visits were mostly uneventful. It is a lovely study, no doubt. Shelves of beautiful books run up the walls. The French windows on the far end open onto a vast garden that gives way to sprawling meadows cloaked in a million shades of green, unfolding lazily to kiss the horizon. 

Master’s desk sits in the centre of the room, buried under reams of paper, holding a typewriter, an eclectic collection of pens and pencils scattered haphazardly on the desk, and sundry other items. I sometimes read through the pages and wonder aloud how such lousy prose could earn Master his reputation as a famed connoisseur of tales.

It was only on my fourth or fifth visit did I discover the little muse who lives in the typewriter. She thinks my name is Psst because that is how she addresses me whenever she wants to grab my attention. I correct her each time but to no avail. 

Often she asks me to fetch her a cup of lavender tea, and I do. It usually makes her happy. In return, she shows me a few tricks. My favourite is the one in which she snaps her fingers and dances on the keys. And when she does that, the words on the pages on the desk start to tremble as if they are in an attempt to break free from the story that binds them. And she shuffles and reshuffles and rearranges the words so that when I read Master’s story again, it is no longer his because it is no longer a story and instead, it is now a tale converted into magic. Just as how his publisher would like it, she says.

I tell her he never acknowledges her contribution to his work. And she nods in understanding and says that that is quite alright. As long as her stories are alive and well for all to savour, she says, it does not matter who claims to have written them.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Wedding of The Tin Soldier and The Paper Ballerina

The Wedding of The Tin Soldier and The Paper Ballerina - Image courtesy of PrettyHowTown

Dear Santa,

After years of simply loving her from a distance, the tin soldier has finally asked the paper ballerina out and the two of them are quite the couple now. 

Happiest about this is the cat who has been practising playing the fiddle and he intends to give what he hopes would be a stellar performance when the wedding bells ring next year.

We intend to invite Her Most Gracious Majesty and we hope she will grace us with her presence at the wedding but the ballerina is worried that a last minute incident could prevent the royalty from attending, and so she insisted on having a backup. So the frog has been practising hard at shape-shifting and she can now turn into a gorgeous princess at the snap of a finger. 

We do have a (real) princess in our midst but she has been very upset that the tin soldier fell in love with the ballerina and not with her. We think it would be cruel to invite her to the wedding. But that is not to say she is bitter about it all. She has promised to stitch dresses for all of us to wear to the wedding. 

But she has also secretly planned to leave town the night before the wedding, and the cow has promised he will let her ride on his back that night as he jumps over the moon. They say there is a man on the moon waiting for her. 

And all this, we promise, will be no trouble at all to the family that lives in the house. We do not really know who they are for during the day we lie quietly on top of one another in the dusty, old shoe-box tucked under silver-grey cobwebs in the darkest corner of the forgotten cupboard under the rickety stairs. We troop out only at night after everyone has fallen asleep and slip back into the shoebox without a noise before the first light of dawn.

The only trouble is the tin soldier and the ballerina have no other home to go to after their wedding. So, dear Santa, when you sail through the chimney this December, could you please gift them a doll-house this Christmas?

Yours obediently,
The Blue Doll

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

A Happy Place

A Happy Place - Image courtesy of Yume Cyan

And I say to him I am afraid I can’t put up with it anymore. And he gives me a half-bored, half-quizzical, half-I-know-where-this-is-leading look. (I know I have put three halves in there and that such a thing is logically not possible but that is hardly the point and he knows better than to argue about that right now.) 

And he also knows that the thing I think I simply cannot put up with anymore has nothing to do with him. I am only scared the well may have run dry and that I may have not a single story left in me and that I don’t want to turn to the big, bad world out there for inspiration because it is a world filled with mean people who do not believe in stories and fairness, I sob to him.

And so he says he will take me to a place where all my miseries (both real and imagined, he mocks) and all of the world’s problems will disappear. He blindfolds me and leads me through many places and like a tour guide he keeps up a commentary on the destination as we go. But as far as I am concerned the only thing that appears real to me right now is that I am stumbling through a dark, unlit passage that seems to never end, and I fervently pray he never lets go of my hand.

It is a forgotten place, he says, the place he is leading me to. People know it exists but no one really remembers it does. Like houses not lived in for centuries. No one ever goes in or out. But if you look hard enough, you will see lights shining from the windows as if the house were having its own personal sunrise after the rest of the world has turned in for the night, he says.

I am walking more steadily now, my hand in his, and I trust he will keep me from falling as I lose myself in his narration. He asks me what I’d like to see when I reach there, this forgotten place. I am beginning to like the game he is playing, and so I play along and answer fairy lights. He says I will not be disappointed.

A few steps ahead, he slows down and reveals this is as far as he can go but that I must carry on. Only a few more steps, he insists. I hesitate at first but having come this far I do not want to return without knowing where it was we were headed in the first place. 

I push ahead, guided by my senses now there is no storyteller to lead me on the path. The air is crisp and wintry. I hear the leaves and twigs crack under my feet. Night creatures are playing their music and singing their songs, and I don’t feel lonely. I keep thinking of the fairy lights I want to see. 

When I know I have arrived, I open my eyes and see a million tiny lights floating all around me. Little green pinpricks of light shining, gliding, disappearing, then reappearing elsewhere in the dark, as if bobbing about to the music of the creatures of the night.

I turn to tell him I know where I am. 
I know this is my happy place.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

When The Ghosts Do Not Come Calling

When The Ghosts Do Not Come Calling - Image courtesy of Robert Montgomery

For several years after our parents died, my sister and I walked to the end of the pier every evening to read the message on the illuminated board installed in the middle of the ocean. 

She believed the messages that flashed on the board came from the afterworld. She also believed mum and dad would send us messages, and she didn’t want to miss the communications when they arrived. I did not share her beliefs but I rarely let her walk alone.

Once I asked her what kind of messages she expected them to send. She simply shrugged and said she didn’t know. 
Perhaps a note saying they have arrived safely
Arrived where? I asked.
Heaven maybe? she reckoned, unwilling to entertain other possibilities. 

Some evenings I was unable to leave from work early enough to accompany her on her walks. On such days, she would set out by herself and sit at the end of the pier, staring unblinkingly at the board until I came by to bring her back home.

Maybe you should let them go, I said one evening. Not hold them back.
She disagreed, even though she was soaking wet and shivering in the rain that day. I just want to know they are still out there. Somewhere, she insisted.

The message on the metallic board has changed not once in the all the years we've been here.

I can no longer join her on her evening walks. She hasn’t stopped looking for mum and dad, but now she pins all her hopes on me. Sometimes she calls out into the wind asking me to send her a message if I can hear her. I watch her mutely. I wish there was something I could say or do to help her move on. But there are some boundaries we simply must not transgress.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Trail of The Yellow Sycamore Leaves

The Trail of The Yellow Sycamore Leaves - Image courtesy of WallpapersMood.com

When we first set out on an expedition to the far end of the world, the wise old man who lives at the edge of the forest advised us to stick to the trail of the yellow sycamore leaves. And he told us to hurry because autumn was swiftly coming to an end and winter was lurking around the corner.

We scrambled through the forest but the paths were cloaked in a million shades of red. Flaming oranges bled into raging vermilions. Flamboyant auburns mellowed into rose or were devoured by incensed scarlets. We turned over each leaf looking for traces of yellow, but in vain. The last of the leaves soon deserted the trees, which were left to stand in naked silence. And the snow, when it fell, buried the last vestiges of colour. 

When winter had had his fill and spring breezed her way through the forest, we set out once more on the well-trodden and offbeat trails. The paths were clean and clear. The trees that had once drooped under the weight of winter, pulled back to stand tall and strong to support their nascent canopies of green. There was no sign of the yellow sycamore leaves.

Summer came and the forest was drenched in the golden warmth of the sun. The trees rose higher to kiss the sun. The only leaves that drifted earthwards were brown as mud and dry as twigs.

Summer’s liaison with the forest ended when winter started to get impatient and sent autumn ahead to pave the way for him. Summer bade the forest farewell and the sun-kissed leaves started to turn yellow in fond remembrance. 

When it became clear summer wasn’t returning for another year, the yellow sycamore leaves floated away from the trees and drifted deep over the earth, where they formed a path they hoped would lead them to the sun. 

We plough through the forest a third time, on the trail of the yellow leaves, making haste this time before the leaves decide to turn an infuriated red. Miles after miles of forest land lie blanketed in yellow leaves. The scenery changes little and often we think we are going around in circles.

But we do reach the far end of the world and the only way we know it is because there is no more land for the yellow leaves to lay their trail. They converge at the end and rise up, coiling themselves into what looks like a helical staircase leading up into the clouds.

They say they are going up the meet the sun and that we could continue to travel with them if we want to. We are not sure what to do. A trip to the sun sounds fun. But we know the yellow leaves shouldn’t be trusted. We still do not know their true colours.

Saturday, 6 July 2013


Conversations - Image courtesy of Jumbo WallPaper

The thing I miss the most about us is our conversations.

Our frequent rendezvous at the coffee shop where we discussed dreams and drew up plans for the future.

Moonlight trysts and the ghost stories you used to spin, knowing how much they terrified me. And despite all my outward protestations of fear I had a secret longing to be terror-struck, and you knew that and that, your knowing is something I miss too. 

The conversations at the park bench after a morning run, our breaths frosting in the cold winter air as you whispered sweet nothings in my ear.

The late night telephone chats when you were continents away. Words that travelled across time and space, their meanings sometimes failing to keep pace, but the words always stayed with me long after we hung up and went about our separate lives. 

Then the I do’s.

And not long after, the I don’t want to’s

And then there were the things left unsaid but more real than spoken words. They hung between us in an invisible bubble that kept us apart and grew larger as more things were left unsaid. 

And now you are gone.
And I can’t remember your voice anymore.
And all that remain are the voices in my head.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Decade of Seasons

The Decade of Seasons - Image courtesy of Investors Hub

Summer that decade lasted two and a half years. 
It was the season of the fiercest parching heat. 
Flowers wilted. 
Crops parched. 
Vineyards shrivelled up. 
Leaves dried up and crumpled to the touch like old paper. 
Birdsong faded like a distant memory. 
Oceans dried up, seabeds served as mass graves. 
The earth ruptured and fissured, and began to crumble.

But everyone remembered it as the summer that mermaids disappeared from the face of the earth.

When the rains finally came, they lasted merely a month. 
That was all the time the skies needed.
As if the heat had burnt up the skies and there was nothing to hold back the downpours. 
What the heat did not destroy, the rains demolished.
The waters filled up the cracks in the earth, oceans and rivers swelled to life and transgressed whatever boundaries may have once existed. 

When they were convinced it was finally safe, the mermaids rose from their groundwater havens and swam to the surface. 
They looked around but there was no land to be found. 
And there was no one to remark this was the monsoon that brought the mermaids back to life.


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