The Creative Mind

T’was the end of the Christmas holiday, or if you prefer the politically correct version: T’was the end of the Holiday Season holiday , and the family was quietly going about the business of getting back to business. That is, we yelled across staircases for missing tiffin boxes, wondered aloud why things that were to be done during the luxurious break were still undone, books landed with a thump on the stairs, socks pushed under the sofa were retrieved and shoes frantically scoured the home for their partners. Folks wandering past the home may have been pardoned for thinking there was a nursery inside, but there! It was a typical end-of-vacation-day.

I opened the daughter’s backpack, put my hand in and let out a strangled yelp. I may have heard snapping inside, but I also felt like I was holding a fur ball. Judging by the smell, it could have been a marmalade-smeared rat or an orange-scented skunk. I felt around a bit more and there was another such monster.  There was nothing to be done. I bit down the nausea brought on by eating too many cookies, remembered the brave deeds of my father while tackling rats in our childhood home, squared my shoulders for the onslaught and plunged my hand in with a grim determination to retrieve whatever monster the bag held.

There was no cat or rat to let out of the bag. It was just a couple of sad looking oranges that had long ago passed its ‘Best by’ date. Judging by the fungi on it, it may be long past the ‘Fling without spattering’ date as well. I moaned a sound that started out as ‘Ugh’, pitched up to a holler of her complete name, and squeaked down at ‘please’.

The School Bag
The School Bag

“Let’s clean it up.” I said becoming the stern taskmaster.  We trooped up the stairs with the foul smelling bag and its 100 pound contents. I kid you not, that bag weighs about 100 pounds – I don’t know what is in there, for every child I see pulls this mini-suitcase-like bag along bursting at its seams with books it seems, and yet when it is time to buckle down to a piece of homework or an assignment, I see a fair bit of telephoning and neighbor hopping to ‘see if my friend has the book to finish the assignment’ happening. Sigh.

It was a good few minutes later, and the techniques of deep breathing successfully applied gave me the glowing answer. I let her deal with the bag with the able assistance of her father. There was still some bag-related noise upstairs, but it had mellowed to a gurgle with occasional spurts of “But Appa! I need that. It is for Moon-city.” (their play patch is christened something-city)  This dash-city is home to some willow trees and a large grass patch. Lodged in blah-city is a variety of treasures ranging from pine cones to balls made of pencil shavings. (I have a series of blogs on pencil shavings that will make entertaining reading when I sit down to writing about it).  It looked like a large layer of the general debris in the schoolbag was for Sun-city.

I like these glimpses into her childhood that I get. I hope this is the kind of thing that she will throw her mind back to when she thinks of her childhood. As a child I was best amused when left to my own devices and swinging on a tree trunk still tickles the endorphins in me. I agree with Bertrand Russell when he says that “The pleasures of childhood should in the main be such as the child extracts from his environment by means of some effort and inventiveness.”

This illustration by Maurice Sendak gets it: <Everybody should be quiet near a stream and listen>

Everybody should sit by  a little stream and listen
Everybody should sit by a little stream and listen

Anyway, back to the bag. Judging by the level of debris in her bag, she may be one of the most creative persons I know. For there is this study that says folks with the messiest desks are the most creative.

I like the tone of this article. I now don’t have to castigate ourselves as a messy household, but paint ourselves as a creative household. Nice!

The Lost Heart

Through nobody’s fault, I found myself in a state wanting to submit an entry for the 3-minute fiction contest on NPR with an afternoon to spare. Add a production problem at work, 2 unbathed children playing with mud and a hose in the backyard, and a hungry family to the mix and you have the components for story-telling complete. Obviously, I was using all of this as a perfect excuse to not sit and write something. But the husband would hear nothing of the sort and shoo-ed me away to write. The theme was to write a story in which a character finds an object that he or she has no intention of returning.

I wrote out more than a few stories. I had almost decided on this one, but the daughter was so disgusted by the story, that she would not let me send it in. I have written a good many stories for her age group over the past few years and she has always been my trusted reviewer and critic. I love discussing my writing with her. Sometimes, the insights she offers can only come from a child her age and yet seem far more reasoned than I had supposed from someone her age. So, I honored her and did not send this one in, but decided to put it up on my blog instead.

The Lost Heart

This story is about a young girl called Fibrill who found a heart. A human heart.

 The object repulsed her, but she bent down and picked it up anyway like she usually did. This time, a longing engulfed her. The mass felt alien to her hands, but she persevered. She could give it to her mother and maybe that would make her happy. Yes that was it. She ran with the heart in her hands. She was running along the clouds as fast as her legs and the dead weight of the heart would allow her to. But the heart was not dead yet. It was still pulsing and throbbing. 

 As she burst into the kitchen through the back-door, her mother looked shocked. “What is this?”

 “A human heart! A human heart….can you check if it is alive?”

 “Oh dear. I wonder who is missing it. Give it to me.” said her mother rushing to her side.

 Her mother touched the edge of her nose. She saw the familiar transformation as her nose turned blue and the electric blue from her nose tip spread to all the nerve endings in her body. “Fibrill! Give me the heart right now. There is still hope left.”

 The shot of blue pulsed through the heart and Fibrill’s inside, but this time Fibrill did not part with the heart. It was her heart now.

 The man, whose heart it was, lay limp on Earth below.

The daughter did not know the word, but I told her that the word she was looking for was ‘Morbid’. Her expression said it all. Never one to hold back, she said, “Amma – you usually write things that make people happy, how could you write this?”

“Didn’t this make you happy?”. I love needling her.

“No way! This makes no one happy. A heart is lovely – like this! ” she said indignantly and drew me a heart on a post-it note. I must say that is the way I like hearts too. Beautiful and full of throbbing love.

Please let me know what you think of the story.

PS: Ideally, I would have loved to finish the story differently, but the requirement was to have the person not return what they found.

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