Rachel, an interviewer from the leading magazine ‘The Reader’ had been assigned the task of interviewing Richard Clive, whose debut novel had been an international best seller. She makes a visit to his place on a cold morning and is greeted by his wife, who escorts her thorough the main hallway to the attic, where Richard often writes. Rachel being a journalist assimilates every detail of the hallway, ranging from the furniture to the ceiling chandelier. And now stands before the attic door…
Rachel climbed the staircase and turned the knob to the door. It was cold.
She was taken aback by what she saw. The room was in contrast with what she had just seen now. From no angle did it look like a study. She had just been absorbing the rich colours and exquisiteness of detail on her way up here, but now stood before her, a room, empty at best. Slanting roof, shallow walls, all flushed with white. Long in one direction, but a little constricted sideways. Floor was vinyl carpeted in brown. No shelves or cupboards to house any book, low wattage lights leaving the proper illumination at the mercy of the sun. It was not warm as downstairs, and all was quiet, much too quiet. It seemed like the place was in distress. The air was heavy and carried the scent of tobacco. Deserted, it was. Somewhere near the end of the room, there was light. A full size sliding window had been thrown open to let in air and light, which added to the chill.
Perplexed with the absurdity of this place, Rachel moved ahead with a contorted expression on her face. Just near the window were a wooden table and an armless chair. The chair had been moved slightly out of place with its seat slightly facing the window. On the table was a flower vase with a fresh black rose in it. A notepad was lying on the table and on top of it was an old pipe. Rachel entered the balcony. It was a cold and quiet morning. There Richard stood, gazing intently at the ground.
“Hello Sir, I am Rachel, from ‘The Reader’”, she politely interrupted his train of thoughts.
As if the spell was broken, he jumped back slightly. “Ah, I am sorry! I did not see you coming.” He smiled apologetically.
She extended her hand, smiling, “I am Rachel, from ‘The Reader’ “.
As they shook hands, Rachel noticed his hands were cold, just like the room. She had only seen him on the book cover before. He too might have been in his late forties or fifties maybe, but the years of mental labour as an auditor were clearly manifesting themselves in deep gorges and bends on his forehead, and the ever receding hair line of grays. Still, the patience and benevolence clearly showed in the way he maintained his stance.
“Sir, I read your ‘Another Routine’, it is very impressive I must say.” She started her ritual.
“Thank You Rachel, and I am Richard, if you may” said he.
She noticed that his mood was a little off, his face wasn’t hiding any emotion. “His mood can be unpredictable sometimes. Some things of his stories reflect in him.” Rachel remembered Mrs. Clive telling her.
“I guess you have been working on the next piece?” she tried to start again.
“Yes, I have been working on it for quite some time now.” He replied, his glum expression returning again, as if somebody had stepped on his nerves.
“Any insights?” She asked jokingly.
“Ah, just another casual story.” He replied.
“I learnt you liked reading from a young age, and then what prompted you to write after so many years?”
“Oh it was my wife, she has been a constant motivator. And she has been the one who revived my flare for literature in the first place.” He replied without hesitation.
“Yeah, she is a very gentle and motivating lady. So what makes your creations so alive? I mean, when I read the novel, I could easily imagine the scenes as if I was there myself. It all seemed so natural. Like it just happens around us every day.”
“I write it as I experience it. I am glad that it turns out that way.”
“Now we’re talking”, Rachel thought.
“That’s interesting, you mean to say that you feel what you write?” She asked.
“Why, yes. I try to experience them first hand, nothing second hand should pilfer the small emotions that I feel while I write.” He said affirming himself.
“But is it not like living alien lives?” she questioned.
“In a way yes, but isn’t it exciting. Stepping in someone else’s shoes, if only for a while?”
“But how can we do that?”She asked.
“That is what I try to find out while I write. For that, I describe them to myself, who they are, how they are, what they have, and every attribute that I can think of. I wouldn’t say they are fictional characters. They are always fueled from the characters I have met and lived with, or observed. Each character is a mix of many people whom I have met. And when we’ve shared some part of their lives, it is not that hard to emulate them, is it? The room inside is my workspace, my sway to create the surrounding and environment I want.” He explained it quite lucidly and plainly.
“That explains why you take so much time in writing?” she was trying to understand.
“Probably, I can’t say anything about other authors. I treasure my characters.” He said fondly.
“That’s so benign! But you look a little off today? And does this attic always bear this semblance.”
A sudden wave of nostalgia swept past through his face now and his expression was a little serious again. She sensed that she had stepped on wrong lines and tried to explain. “I mean, it is cold today. And the room inside is even more chilling. Plus the black rose on your table, it felt like…”
“Eric died, it is his funeral.” before she could complete it, he said suppressing some invisible pain.
Bewildered, she asked “Eric?”
“He, was a part of my story for a while. Died of a stroke, had a little girl and a beautiful, caring wife.”
It was all quiet once again. Rachel stared at that black rose from through the glass. It was not an interview anymore.
*Note: ‘The Reader’ never published this part of interview, only a line related to it. This guy writes genuinely, and maybe that is the reason, there are only a few critics.
P.S. I liked the idea, but I did not like it, and I think I failed to convey it too…anyhow. Sigh!