An urge to write produced a feeling of restlessness within him every time, before he came up with his masterpieces. Allen was a famous writer. Millions of copies of his books were sold in no time. He was a magician with words, one who knew every time when his magic was about to be witnessed. 

It always started with a form of anxiety that wrapped him around like a soft blanket. He felt shaken, mesmerised, charmed. It was a selfish show of madness when Allen felt compelled to be alone. 

Writing had the same effect as morphine had on a troubled patient. He got delusional as if he had the power of many people inside him to push away the seemingly suffocating material boundaries. It enabled him to release his soul to wander out freely before it was locked up again for an act of rebellion.

It was a cold winter morning when he drove aimlessly for a while. He was again engulfed by that urge to seclude himself and write his inside out thoughts and patterns. On reaching the beautiful lake surrounded by mountains he sat down on a small rock that looked like a cushioned stone. It felt freezing cold just like his feet became numb in those slippers. Like a patient that runs out of a hospital, he too was easily identified in the crowd. The serene surroundings, however, had a calming impact on his troubled mind. He finally got some time out from his busy schedule to meet himself, in his true form. 

A solitary moment was all he needed to cut off from the expectations of his readers, which gave Allen an immense power to hold outside world his captive. 

He got engrossed coming up with yet another masterpiece when a rather strange looking man broke his enchantment. 

The stranger had a rustic look to him, of a simpleton who did not pay attention to the norms of contemporary times. He had a wrinkled dry face, curly hair and a stick in his hands that often the shepherds use. 

‘What are you doing young man, I go past this place every day with my sheep. Have never seen you here before’? The stranger inquired. 

‘I have come here for the first time. This place attracted me from a distance. It’s so beautiful and serene, with a view from this hill it gives a fantastic panoramic view’. Allen added. ‘I am a fiction writer, by the way, was trying to give way to my seemingly knocking creativity’. 

The old man did not seem to understand the clue to give him privacy. He had a piece of paper that he must have picked on the way. A paper with different colours on each side. The old man out of curiosity was folding and wrapping the corners like origami. He asked a question out of sheer ignorance. ‘What do you mean by writing. What do you write and why? 

Allen knew it was not the right time to be distracted. Yet with patience, he tried to connect impartially. ‘Just like you are turning and reversing the paper, I turn, fold, open and pleat jumbled words in my mind and transfer them on to a piece of paper’. He answered. 

‘I get nothing out of folding this paper in and out. Life has natural laws that cannot be broken. Are you breaking yourself too to fight them?’ He asked. 

Allen took a deep sigh. He realised the man was not as simpleton as he seemed. He had a streak of immense practical and beneficial wisdom folded and pleated within him. He answered in a calm tone, ‘ I understand, in times of upsetting storms, one has to learn to make one’s self a lighthouse that stands steady patiently, while doing service at the same time’. 

‘Same question a second time, why write, when a candle burns to give light?’ The strange man asked a strange question again. 

‘I want to reap where I have sown, it is a survival response’… Allen replied. After a pause he added, ’if a smile irrespective of gloomy heart is a charity, giving light is a charity of the burning candle.’

‘What did you reap then?’, the strange curious man asked. 

By this time Allen got used to of answering questions. It was like an interview he never anticipated, with arbitrary arrows of questions striking him from all sides. It almost felt a sporting game. Allen in a much-relaxed tone answered. 

‘I reaped true knowledge, literary farming is also a roundabout. Human dimensions push us around and we end at the same place where we started, with the self-awareness for the very first time’. 

The old man after a moment of thought added, ‘ a true knowledge gives freedom to share freely, the real knowledge is a realisation when not to share’. 

Allen was not ready for a critic at this moment of time. Suddenly he had to be in a defensive line, ‘I am afraid… fear changes creativity..and strategic creativity kills spontaneity’. 

‘Then learn to listen carefully, with patience and willingness to understand others unconditionally before you take the pen license out to judge others and pass the verdict’. The strange man sounded even stranger than before. 

‘My writing has no verdict, it leaves it up to the readers to decode, some take evil out of it, others find goodness.’ Allen answered honestly. 

‘You mean to say it is that powerless’. The old man asked brutally. 

‘Not exactly’, Allen justified, ’I give a road map in the name of service, through my experience; my intake of values, principles and outcome of social interactions which others may or may not agree with’. 

‘This writing of yours… Is it a maze of vague guilt?’ The stranger almost sounded an expert. 

‘Precisely, it is an emblem of all colours of life that I have witnessed’. Allen answered. 

‘You want to be socially impressive and accepted’, he asked almost mechanically as if he was a machine for automated questions. 

‘I have achieved my goals already. Sadly so, I am a pipe piper in deaf times, not many people read any more, it is a dying, outdated tradition’. 

‘Aha, there you are,’ the old man chuckled as he started walking off, he then turned around to add, ‘you so-called famous writer is undermining the value of hard work and diligence. You said knowledge was a roundabout, let human dimensions push people away, they will come back with self – realisation. The power of a pen has stood the test of time. Keep a positive attitude and you will be happy in whichever times you are.’ 

Allen was left to decipher the context this time when he heard a loud roaring voice of the strange man, instead of formal goodbyes he shouted out loud from a distance. His booming voice sliced the frozen silence and left a message that echoed in the mountains all around. 

’Remember…. A character communicates more than words’.


  • Uzma


    Writing is my medium to spread the colours of hope. We all go through times of high and low. What’s important is our response, the struggle, the survival and the positivity. Trying to pass on through my writing, that beacon of light, that magnet of gratitude and key of hope that we all desperately need from time to time.