When Ariadne sat down to write, no story would come. They were right there, there was one fully finished sentence, an almost complete dream, an incident too good to be true. But when she sat down to write, they just weren’t there anymore.
Her mother said if she didn’t pour water over the vessels after she ate, her heart would dry out. Would her memory dry out too? She routinely left the vessels at the edge of the sink. Somehow the turning on and off of the tap was too much of a chore.
In the nights when everyone slept she crept back downstairs to search for a snack. Her mother always said that if you ate at midnight, the banshees would get into you. That was when they ate, you were not allowed to interrupt that. Those were the times she always believed she could write, in the dead quiet of the night. The snack was to fill gaps between empty sentences. Had the banshees crawled into her? Because the sentences never came. It was one gaping gap.
Ariadne was a Greek name. I’m not sure why that was the first name that popped into my head for a character. Why Greek? Ever since I began writing stories, I have always been reluctant to write characters with Hindu names. They just didn’t sound right in books. Indian names appeared in books that sounded weird in English. The names had to be English too. But Greek came out of nowhere. There is something about beginning with Greek that sounds like I might also descend into Genesis.
Two times two was always four. I had a problem with that. Ariadne could also have a problem with that. Sometimes i feel limited in writing my characters out. They can have no interest in Math or Science as I don’t understand them myself. They can have no understanding of Indian languages, poetry, literature, even to a large extent popular culture because I grew up with images of blackened chimney tops and Oliver Twist picking pockets.
How does one understand when one is writing anyway? Is there a hint to be found somewhere that the story one is writing is not utterly dumb?
Who would believe what my mum said? I don’t and I routinely scoff at her. Yet, in my dreams all my vessels have dried out. As if vessels could dry out. But somewhere in my mind it means that I will dry out, die of a slow, lonely dryness. Like a withered plant that has nevertheless stayed in its assigned plot at the corner of a window that never received any sun because it didn’t face the east or the west.
If Ariadne were a woman, would she have long hair like I do? I could make it curly at the end and leave it to the knees to stop them in their track.
My mum says if I leave my hair lying loose and strewn over my back, banshees would swoop in and live there. I imagine swinging women moving fluidly like Tarzan from strand to strand or twisted bodies stuck in a braided twist. Couldn’t I wring them out or drown them in the shower or lather them in a soapy massage? Death by shampoo. I’m sure mine are toxic. When I see hair fallen and strewn on the white tiled floor I imagine I have wrecked homes like demolitions of illegal buildings in Bombay. Illegal buildings, illegitimate owners.
Perhaps I could write a thought piece on superstitious old women in modern India- double shifts and twisted minds of the working class woman. These stories come out only in hushed whispers, when you sit down to write you cannot divulge such secrets.
Ariadne could be a modern Scheherazade or an Indian Eva Luna – since i borrowed the term modern scheherazade from her in the first place. A magic realism novel, postmodern, postcolonial piece de resistance.