Earlier this week in the creative writing class with Fadia Faqir, characterization was covered.
It was both fascinatingly obvious and enthralling at once.
This week’s assignment was two-fold, the second more of an implied challenge and infinitely more terrifying than the first.
Officially, we must write a 300-word passage about a character utterly removed from ourselves.
Should there be any likeness traceable, we will be duly slapped with the ruler of creative writer’s idiocy and forever banished to the wobbly table on the fringe of the class.
More dreadsome is the reality that by week four we can no longer evade publicly owning our stories.
Where once a steady scrutinization of a piece of fluff on the desk and little light play of being deaf sufficed, the obligatory shuffling of papers (with names!) and dissemination for reading aloud pretty much snuffs that ploy.
And so, to quell my nerves of tomorrow’s debut, I shall put it in context by publishing it here first.
I can feel the wobbly table already.
The silhouette in the window shrugged on the dress and patted its hair. From beneath the blind languid jazz seeped into the late summer evening; quieter, though no less subdued by the hum of traffic streaming beneath the building. Inside, incense hung heavy – doing battle with the exhaust fumes – and a cigarette shod ash as it balanced on a cracked saucer. Mascara was applied in long, precise strokes, soon to be followed by a slather of gloss. [15 minutes.] Perfume was sprayed, shoes appraised, discounted, appraised, chosen. They would blister, but there is no beauty without sufferance, the silhouette reasoned. Jewels gleamed, fragrance hesitated then settled on skin. [10 minutes.] A hand with tips still drying (Dior, Red Royalty) grasped at glasses harbouring dregs from the previous evening’s soiree. A stray trainer was kicked under the couch, a football hurled into the cupboard and a razor slung under the bathroom sink, with the foam for good measure. Arak is swilled, a Gauloise struck (as its cousin gives up the last ember) and a pillow plumped. [5 minutes.] The jazz notes are broken only briefly by a long cough. The silhouette glides by the window once more, taller. As the muezzin strikes up the Maghreb refrain the figure barely pauses; a scarf is entwined, music ceased, keys grabbed. [60 seconds.] Only a deep inhalation denotes the poignancy of the moment. Another shot of arak stills the shaking hands. [30 seconds.] The door opens and the at once familiar, yet not so, steps negotiated to street level. It is dark, but the cars and the kiosks offer their own radiance. And so Bashir steps out and smiles. “Tonight will be the first of many, Rana,” he whispers to himself, before being swallowed up by the city night.
If life were really like Heroes and a super-power could be harnessed, I would snatch Arjun Basu‘s ability to convey tales in 140 characters in an instant.
Imagine. He moves you in 140 – think what he could do in a novel.