Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Talking Puppets: Part 2

                                           The Talking Puppets: Part 2

But we are losing one of our members all the same" shouted the Rebel. The Puppeteer grunted in his sleep. "It's time we Our World too". He got all the Puppets in a huddle. 

A plan was hatched.


The Rebel and The Aide climbed out of the green bag and hid themselves in a corner of the Puppeteer's room. Their first tactic was to disrupt his storytelling. Without two critical characters, the Puppeteer would fumble. That would give them leverage to bring him to the table for negotiation.

The Puppeteer didn't look into his bag before starting off with the story that day. It was not something he did regularly. Once in 3 months, he would take the puppets out of the bag and give them a coat of raw paint, so that they didn't lose their lustre in the lights. The puppets sneezed continuously for a couple of nights after the painting ritual and cursed the Puppeteer for not exposing them to fresh air. But ofcourse, they didn't believe they could rebel. Not until the Rebel had given them direction - which was now.

The Puppeteer started off with the story. The audience waited with bated breath as each character took birth out of the green bag and engaged the audience. Soon enough, the Puppeteer had set stage for the Rebel to appear. The story was reaching a climax and the Rebel would change its course. Only, he was not there that day. The Puppeteer started fumbling. The Old Man winked at the Son. The Puppeteer almost noticed this. But attributed that to a trick of the light. The professional that he was, he quickly changed the course of the story and brought it to a close. In the end. only he knew that he was a little shaken by what had just happened. He looked into the green bag and searched for the Rebel. After the search, he came to know the Aide was also missing from the lot.

He hurried back home and looked for the missing puppets. He found them both hiding in the corner. There was an unmistakable smile on the Rebel's face. The Aide was standing a couple of paces behind. He gave them both a look of fury and thrust them into the bag.

"You should've seen the look on his face, when the Rebel wasn't appearing from the bag. It was priceless" The Old Man said, as all the Puppets burst out laughing.
"And when father winked at me, he was utterly confused....for the first time in his life" said the Son with the smugness of having achieved something.
"We can bend him to our wills and wishes, friends....we only need to stand united" the Rebel motivated. "I have decided I'm going to have this smile on my face more looking angry. If he wants to, let him call me the 'The Smiling Rebel'. But now, to the second part of the plan."
"Yes, I'll talk to the Puppeteer tonight. Given the way we have planned, it would seem to him that he's dreaming. Let him see the magic of his Magician today" said the Magician.

Only the Philosopher noticed that all of their colors had started fading, ever so slightly. They had started to become pale.


It was a couple of hours after midnight when the Magician climbed out of the green bag. The bag was left slightly open, for him to make the sudden escape into its depths in case anything went wrong in the operation. His black attire blended in a sinister way with the darkness of the night, making his red eyes all the more cruel and venomous.

He sat near the Puppeteer's head, and started the conversation.

The Puppeteer woke up with a start, when he heard the baritone. It was his voice. But strangely, he wasn't the one speaking. He clutched his throat in shock and turned to the direction from where the voice was coming. In the darkness, he could only make out those red eyes.

"Who are you? I know these eyes...but it just can't be" he stammered, disbelievingly.
"When Your world can exist...Ours can exist too" said the Magician. The Puppeteer moved closer to the voice, to see if the Magician's mouth was moving. But it wasn't. It startled him further.
Even in the state of shock  he was in, he managed to muster a forceful reply
"Your world!!?? It exists because I create it. You are the Magician, because I call you so!"
"But the fact remains that you've called me the Magician. And that I do have a few tricks up my sleeve". The Magician retorted. He gave a low whistle.

And the war cries started. And before the Puppeteer knew what was happening, there were pairs of eyes surrounding him from nowhere. There was no head, no torso. Pairs of eyes with menacing looks. Some of them angry, some of them smug. Some of them dancing with victory. Then came music. Music that rang out a warning. Music that breathed fire and commanded submission. The eyes encircled the Puppeteer and started dancing, even as the music blared on relentlessly. The Magician's red eyes smiled the look of satisfaction.

"What do you want? Whose eyes are all these? I remember having seen them, but I don't know who they belong to.." The Puppeteer said. He wasn't composed anymore.
"Those eyes you mean? Didn't you see the look of sorrow in those eyes, when you discarded one of us each year? Each of those pair of eyes wants revenge today. You have the right to give birth....but you can't take life out of us...unless we want to go ourselves..

The Puppeteer was now sitting scared. His legs were folded to his chin. He forehead showed perspiration. "What do you want me to do?" he whispered.

The Magician's eyes were now one nose distance from those of the Puppeteer.
"You won't be discarding any of us anymore. I don't know if you want to create more of us. But none of us....are going to die for your whims and fancies". Those red eyes lingered on the Puppeteer for a moment more. And before the Puppeteer could react, they disappeared. And so did all the other pairs of eyes surrounding the Puppeteer. The room was plunged in darkness. The silence was deafening.

                                                                                                                          - January 17th, 2016

                                                                                                                         (To be continued)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Talking Puppets: Part 1

                                 The Talking Puppets: Part 1

He never knew the puppets spoke amongst themselves at night. His sleep was rarely disturbed by those hushed voices. Occasionally, one of the female puppets would squeak in excitement and the Puppeteer would groan in his sleep. When he woke up in the morning, he would not remember it at all...

Nobody knew what his origins were. The Puppeteer himself had only vague recollections of his childhood. It was almost as if he had woken up one day with a bag of puppets and decided to make puppetry his life.

The bag was a faded green with three kinds of puppets - male puppets, female puppets and animals. Every year, he would discard one puppet from the entire lot. If in the first year it was a male, then it would be female in the second and an animal in the third and the cycle would repeat. He would replace the discarded puppet with a new one that he fashioned on his own. He had one rule though. All his puppets would be of the same size and shape. This simple rule was his biggest strength.

For he was no ordinary Puppeteer. He was gifted. Or he had honed his skills to that degree of perfection,that people called him gifted. He would start off with no story in mind. At the start of the performance, his mind would be a "blank slate" as he called it. As he pulled out each of the puppets from the bag and placed them on his orange mat, the story would unfold from the deepest recesses of his mind. Nobody, including the Puppeteer, knew which would be the character that would appear from the bag. Once he placed the puppet on the orange mat, he would introduce the character to the audience and its relevance to the entire story that day. His creativity was at an other level. But only he knew the years of practice and perseverance behind the spontaneity of his art. 


The puppets were in general a cheerful lot. The Puppeteer's many stories had breathed consciousness to them. Or to be precise, the many emotions the Puppeteer made them go through in his stories had breathed consciousness to them. Each puppet over a period of time came to understand the meaning of happiness, love, kindness, empathy, anger, sorrow, jealousy and the like. It took a few more years for them to feel it. And to be able to express those emotions was only a natural progression.

In due course of time, they started speaking amongst themselves. They picked up the Puppeteer's dialect quite well and quite soon. The conversations would centre around that day's show; how impressive the Puppeteer was or how could he have manipulated the story to increase it's appeal with the audience; There was general agreement about his talent though. And a certain respect.  

So it was a little alarming to the other puppets when the Old Man puppet started shouting loudly one night. The Saint was trying to calm him down. "He will wake up and find out about us. Control yourself"the Saint was saying. The other puppets were waking up too. The Policeman flashed his torchlight and the Cow started mooing.
"Sit down Old Man..we'll sort this out" the Saint was saying. Being one of the older Puppets, he commanded the respect of the group.
The Policeman placed his torchlight in the centre and all the Puppets sat around it. The Servant climbed to the mouth of the bag and sealed it, so no noise or light escaped the bag.

"I don't want my Son to be discarded. He just can't die" the Old Man was wailing. Every Puppet knew this moment was due for quite some time. The Old Man's Son was the oldest puppet in the lot now. The Puppeteer would soon discard the Son to make way for a new puppet. They knew this part of their existence and each of them would be day or the other. But nobody had chosen to rebel so far. Nobody knew how they could rebel as well.
"All of us exist because of the Puppeteer. We can't possibly overrule him. We would not even feel these emotions but for him" the Saint said.
"But the fact remains that we feel these emotions. And we need to respect it. He needs to respect it as well" The Old Man retorted. "Look at him...he's a young boy. Look how pale he has turned ever since he got to know he would be discarded"
"The color is fading Old Man" the Philosopher mused, with a practicality that was unlike him "And it could be because the color is fading that he is being discarded..and not the other way round!"

There was silence. The female puppets started squeaking amongst themselves. "This discarding needs to stop. It was our daughter last time" The Curious Neighbor (as she was called by the Puppeteer) was saying. "I wish someone saw my tears at that time"
" We can't shed tears. And the emotions we feel are borrowed ones. Are they real at all...? He makes his audience happy by introducing a new character every year...and we feel sorry about losing one of our kin. One man's joy is an other man's sorrow". The Philosopher said.

"But we are losing one of our members all the same" shouted the Rebel. The Puppeteer grunted in his sleep. "It's time we Our World too". He got all the Puppets in a huddle.

A plan was hatched.


                                                                                                              -12th January, 2016
                                                                                                              (To be continued)