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Monday, June 4, 2007

14 -- Dusty Memories

NOTE: This blog is a continuing dialog between the two faces of rilla. The identity crisis is explained (if such a thing is possible) in the first edition. Click here to read: 1 -- Introduction

rilla: What is it?
Rilla: What?
rilla: Dust.
Rilla: Dust?
rilla: Yeah. What is dust? You don’t see it unless there’s a shaft of sunlight coming through the window.
Rilla: You do see it if you haven’t dusted in a while…
rilla: Here you think you’re breathing this lovely clear air and then suddenly you walk by a window. And there’s a stream of light pouring in. And it’s full of little particles. And you gasp. And you hold your breath until you’ve walked out of the light. As if the dust is only in the light and nowhere else.
Rilla: Reminds me of that Birbal story.
rilla: Birbal?
Rilla: Yeah. You remember Birbal?
rilla: A bit before my time, wouldn’t you say, given he was advisor to Akbar the Great, Mughal Emperor of India in the late say…sixteenth century?
Rilla: Are you always this dense or…don’t answer that…I’m talking about remembering Birbal stories from school.
rilla: School? That was a century ago. How would I remember…?
Rilla: The one about the man Birbal meets on the street. He’s standing under a lamp searching for something. What did you lose? asks Birbal. A gold ring, answers the man. So Birbal sets up helping the man search for the ring. After a while, when they are unsuccessful, Birbal asks the man. Are you sure you lost it in this spot? Oh, no! replies the man. I dropped it back there, but there’s no light there, and there’s no point searching for it in the dark…
rilla: Ah! Yes faint glimmerings of such a tale do arise now you mention…
Rilla: But my favorite Birbal story was about the man and the light.
rilla: The light? I thought this was the story of the man and the light…
Rilla: No no... the one about the lake a couple of miles from Akbar’s palace. Its waters would become exceedingly cold in the winter…
rilla: Well…Delhi is cold in the winter…but I wonder if still gets that cold, you know what with global warming…?
Rilla: Will you QUIT INTERRUPTING…? One day, when Akbar stops by the lake to wash his hands, Birbal mentions how people will do anything if the price is right.
rilla: People were the same back then too? Did they have reality TV?
Rilla: Don’t be ridiculous, says the emperor. No one can spend an entire night submerged to the neck in this frigid water without any heat source. If any one is willing, they will be rewarded handsomely.
rilla: Kind of like winning the Lotto.
Rilla: More like shooting a basket from half-court in a basketball stadium.
rilla: Yeah…you get a million dollars for that…
Rilla: We were talking about Birbal.
rilla: Actually, we were discussing the vagaries of dust.
Rilla: Are you going to let me finish the story or not…
rilla: Won’t get a minute’s peace if I don’t…
Rilla: So, as soon as Akbar issues the challenge…
rilla: Really, the kings in those days must have been mighty bored and overly rich if all they did was set up dumb challenges…maybe it was their equivalent of a reality show…oh, you’re tapping your foot…
Rilla: As I was saying…a poor man steps forward and accepts the challenge. He spends the entire night in the lake, immersed to the neck, with two of the palace guards keeping watch. The next morning the man demands his reward. Akbar asks the man how he managed to achieve the feat. The poor man replies that he could see the palace from where he stood soaking, and a light in one of the palace windows stayed on all night. He derived warmth from the sight and so…
rilla: Wow! What a neat idea. Talk about will, use of imagination…would make a great writer that one…or…you’re tapping your foot again…come on…I let you finish the story…
Rilla: It’s not finished.
rilla: Oh. Well get on with it then…sigh…
Rilla: The man cheated, says the angry regent. The palace light gave him warmth and he broke the rules of the challenge. Akbar sends the poor man away emptyhanded. Later that day, Birbal fails to show up in court. Akbar asks for him. Says one of the courtiers, Sir, he is making khichidi…that’s rice and lentils cooked together…
rilla: I know what khichidi is. I love it. Haven’t had it in a while. Maybe for dinner…
Rilla: So Akbar waits and waits but Birbal still doesn’t show. Finally the ruler grows impatient and decides to pay Birbal a visit. What’s taking so long, he asks. Well, replies Birbal, the khichidi’s not cooking as quickly as I had hoped. He shows Akbar a lovely fire going with a pot of khichidi, except the pot is suspended many feet above the fire. You fool cries, the king. How can you derive any warmth with the fire so far away? Well, replies Birbal, if a man can obtain heat from a light two miles away, why can’t I cook khichidi with a fire only ten feet away from my pot?
rilla: If I were Akbar, I’d have said Off with your head for making a fool of me. I assume the poor guy got his reward. But you know…my mind’s still on dust.
Rilla: Dust though art to dust returnest…
rilla: Just look at that will you? You think dust is dust is dust…but it isn’t…each little piece is unique…like snowflakes…some are short and straight, some are long and crooked, some are tiny and squiggly…brings me back to my original question…what is dust?
Rilla: Will you finish the dusting already. You were supposed to be done an hour ago…
rilla: How can I concentrate on dusting when you can’t stop with the stories…
Rilla: Hey…I’m trying to help you. I thought half of your writing exercises call for you remembering stories from your past…
rilla: That’s supposed to mean original stories…not other people’s…I don’t know where you excavated these ancient tales from…now will you let me finish the dusting…
Rilla: I’m not stopping you. You’re the one waxing eloquent on dust motes! Long, straight, crooked…
rilla: “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother's eye.”
Rilla: Hey…! Stop waving that duster around…oh…now you’ve done it… I think there’s a short squiggly one up my…my…maa …atchoo!

Hope your weekend was less dusty than mine!



How Birbal came to Akbar's court -- Funny
More Birbal Stories -- Stories I loved growing up -- Slightly grammatically challenged narratives ;)

7 comments:

gnosisistic said...

i almost stopped at "global warming." :( i think it would be more effective to use your own expressions rather than politically-charged jargon.

gnosisistic said...

i did enjoy the Birbal story

Rilla said...

Mmm...I used to love Birbal stories growing up. Funny some of the little things from childhood that stay with you forever...until alzheimers hits that is ;)

J said...

Actually, much of dust is quartz. I learned that while studying gemology.

But the worst thing about dusting is that you are never finished. As you noted, it is continually spreading itself throughout my house. It is such an endless task, just like making the bed or washing dishes...endless.

Forget the rags and the swiping. Go back to writing, it's more productive.

Rilla said...

Hey J,
Thank you so much. That is fascinating! Quartz...huh! Learn something new everyday. You're so right you know. I think I'll just give up on the quartz around the house and write a jewel of a novel instead ;)

LynNerd said...

That's really a cute idea, give up on the quartz and write a jewel of a novel instead. You already have a jewel of a novel. Actually, two that I know of. Now, is crystal a jewel? Or just glass? It sparkles like bling, bling. There you go, Crystal Coffin and Kalpa wearing her royal jewels! See, you didn't realize all that would come from dust, did you?

I'm just wondering, though, if dust is mostly crystal -- you know how we have those little nose hairs to prevent the dust from going into our lungs? -- Well, if dust is mostly crystal, does that mean there's crystal in boogars?
Now, there's an idea for a picture book!

Rilla said...

Crystal boogers...you are a hoot Lynnerd. Sounds way better than crystal coffin any day!