Arka Chattopadhyay
Art & Literature

He was writing the evening. But by the time he went deeper into pen-pushing, the evening had suddenly become night, as if to mock the truth of his composition. And then within that unfathomable moment when he became an I, the pen fell from my hand.

It fell without a sound and disappeared into the shadowy floor as if it hid a quicksand somewhere. I bent down to look for it. But all I could find was the enigma by which the other became me—the third person, the first person, the only person and yet a no-person!

A few glances here and there and there it was, the truant pen, lost in the shade of the table! As I picked it up, something in me shifted, much like the clock that struck one right then. Was it already one? How could it be? It was evening just a while back and when the pen fell, it was still a young night, replacing the dusk with pitch black! Where did all the hours go? How could it be past midnight already? When the pen fell, did it do something to the passing of the hours?

As I resumed writing, I could see I was barely a page or two. It would soon be dawn. The pen rippled on the paper:

“He was writing the morning. But by the time he went deeper into pen-pushing, the morning had already turned into afternoon, as if to mock the truth of his composition…”

I decided I would rather write about nothing. Neither morning, nor afternoon. Neither evening nor night. Let there be no time in writing that turns the He into the I and the I into the He.

“In my late boyhood days, there was an old rusty metal bench, looking over our playground. It was big enough for two people to sit on and chat away. I observed it regularly on my way to my friend’s place but hardly saw anyone sitting there! Without human presence, the bench became itself, but itself in my eyes alone.

One day the bench would be all out in the open and the very next day it would almost become entirely covered with the bushes, growing in a concealed way, behind it. It had this strange see-saw between disclosure and concealment like so many other things that throbbed the period of growing up!

For some mysterious reason, back then I would say to myself—‘the day that bench is completely eaten up by the bushes, it would be time for me to leave!’

The other day, as I was walking that road after long, I could not see the bench there in the thick green enclosure of bushes until I looked closer and an ancient metallic colour among the green vegetation caught my saddening eyes!

A small part of the bench had somehow survived though I wondered if it could take any human weight anymore! The bench was a relic from the past now. Though well on its way to decomposition and the eventual disappearance, it was hanging in there, like so many other things, continuing to haunt life. It was telling me that it was not yet time to leave! Not quite!

My friend for whom I frequently walked that road once had left the town. The bench was the memory of a fragile hyphen between the going and the gone.”

Lost in the impossible fantasy of timeless writing, I had failed to notice the pen—that seemingly innocent partner in crime, in its own true colour! After all, I couldn’t see the pen for what it was—time itself!

When I picked up the pen, it was one time and when the pen fell, time was another! When it moved, time wrote itself into nothingness.

Arka Chattopadhyay. Poet, Translator and Educator. He is by profession, assistant professor of literary studies in the humanities and social sciences department in IIT Gandhinagar India and by passion, a creative writer in Bengali and English as well as a...

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