I wrote this months and months ago. I keep forgetting about this story and then remember that I’d written this once upon a time–and been very proud of it–whenever I sort my blog drafts. Then I make a mental note to sit down and edit it and then forget that too. Today, I finally sat down and did the work (though admittedly, it was just some proofreading; I didn’t make any structural changes because I can be lazy like that). This can hardly be counted as among my best stories, but sometimes I write them for myself instead of some magazine. I know it’s never going to get published, so I’m sharing it here because otherwise, it would rot in the drafts folder, and I really like the story still, so simply deleting is out of the question. I hope you all like it, and it’s not a waste of your time. 🙂
I will not step out of my hut until I have written at least one good sentence.
Little Rodah carved his vow onto the large rock resting next to the patch of white lilies outside his hut, with the Head Monk as the witness, and promptly shut himself in the little brick hut. He wouldn’t get out until he had written something good, anything good. He would work hard and stay inside until he had written at least one good sentence. It may take him hours. Days. Months even. Maybe years. But Little Rodah, who was little just by name and scarcely by stature, wasn’t little anymore. He had committed himself to good writing and he would be giving himself away to the work completed. Come what may.
With this declaration, signing his name off on the stone, he bowed to the Head Monk and took his leave. He walked with his eyes set on the door of the hut, as if they could see past the wood at the pile of parchment sheets beside the lamp on the table. The Head Monk watched Little Rodah stride to his voluntary confinement and speaking so low even he couldn’t hear himself, blessed the young monk.
Little Rodah opened and closed the door behind him slowly, just like it was in his nature. Monks are calm. They have to be calm. They have to learn to be patient. This is my test of patience, Little Rodah thought as he seated himself at the low table, picked a parchment from the pile, dipped his quill into the earthen inkpot and started scribbling.
Outside, the brick hut burned orange as the rays of the sun slipping behind the horizon rested on the walls. The Head Monk continued his silent meditation in the prayer hall. Farmers made their way home and the king ended his practice and headed for dinner.
Inside the hut, aided by the light of the lamp, Little Rodah read the words he had just written and slowly threw the parchment over his shoulder, letting it fall slowly to the floor. He had an intense urge to tear the parchment to pieces when he realized the incoherence of his words, but he was a monk. He ought to be patient and calm. This was his practice.
Days passed until the darkness started to linger on the lands of Bharat longer and longer.
The dim rays of the sun still passed over Little Rodah’s hut. The lilies had long gone and there now stood only the bare green stems. The Head Monk continued his services. The king worked harder with the reducing daylight and the farmers got home earlier, resting themselves and their lands.
Inside the hut, Little Rodah kept writing. He had no idea how much time had passed.
One day, when the days started getting longer again, Little Rodah marked the end of a sentence with a period, read what he had written, discarded the parchment, having long lost the urge to tear it apart and moved to get another one, until he realized he had run out of the tons of parchment he had stored in his room. He turned around. The room was almost flooded with parchment, blackened with his handwriting.
He moved aside some of it to make space. One particular parchment caught his interest. He picked it up and read it. The neat writing on it told him that this parchment was from his early days of this quest to write good words. He read the words and he read them again, not because they were incoherent, but because they were some of the most beautiful words he had ever read.
But they were just words forming a phrase. It wasn’t a sentence. And Little Rodah had promised he wouldn’t step out until he had written at least a good sentence. He started moving the parchment again until another one caught his eye and he found another good one.
There must be more such phrases hidden in these parchments, he thought as he looked at the words flooding his room. Phrases that will help him write his sentence.
Little Rodah grew excited at the thought but then composed himself as he started sifting through the piles of parchment. He was a monk. He ought to be patient and calm. This, now, was his practice.