I will wake up tomorrow in a room with a minimal setup: a bed, two baskets and an ironing board. The bed is great for sleeping at night, of course, but also doubles as a table or general sitting area during the waking hours. Of the baskets, one is for dirty clothes and the other for clean ones. The ironing board is for ironing clothes but will probably have small random items lying upon it from time to time. I will spend my time – hours, days and weeks, perhaps even months – learning a trade. Days and nights will be spent in practice. Have to make a living somehow.

I will learn to play the guitar, spending my day-night cycles practicing till my calluses build. I will then proceed to find a suitable location on the streets. I will set up shop – if you can call it that. A mat and a shawl will do the trick, along with the guitar, of course. Then I will strum away at the strings all my inner rhythms. The town’s people will pass by barely even noticing. I will be alert, noticing their footsteps, their patterns, their expressions and discussions. Eventually they will find a spot on the mat where their coins can rest. Odd at first, I will start to grow on them; they will learn to like me.

Weeks or months will pass by like this until one of the town’s people will start to listen closer. This person will come by repeatedly and observe me closely. One day this person will come with a crowd and yell, “You’re a fraud! You are nothing like the greats that have graced this art!” The crowd – many consisting of those that had started to like me – will chime in in agreement. Having been exposed, I will quickly pack my things into my bag and run as fast as I can. Back in my room, I will lock the door until the crowd (which may have followed me) disperses.

As soon as I can, I will buy a ticket to another town. I will wake up the next day in a room with a minimal setup. It will take me a few seconds before I realize that this is the same room that I went to sleep in the night before. But not the room I slept in the night before that. I will order a set of brass cups and balls along with a dark-brown wooden wand. I will spend hours practicing wand twirls and false transfers. I will buy a mirror so I can see myself perform. I will practice till I fool myself. Until even as I do the trick I am amazed at how it is done. Until I believe in the magic in my hands.

I will then proceed to find a suitable location on the streets. I will setup shop: a table to performs the cups and balls. I will call out to the children and show them some basic tricks. Seeing their joy, a greater crowd will develop. I will then begin the real show. I will perform to a rhythmic beat. Calculating each motion and action. The crowd will respond at all the right moments; they will laugh at all my jokes. Their gasps and claps will flow throughout my performance. When I reveal the lemons and oranges beneath the cups at the end of the show, a wave of silence will strike for a few seconds. Awe and applause will follow. I will send my hat into the crowd for collections. It will be filled to the rim.

Weeks and months will pass by like this. One day, one of the town’s people will scratch their head. “You are an imposter! You are nothing like the great magicians!” the crowd will yell. Having been exposed, I will quickly pack my things into my bag, pick up my table and run as fast as I can. Back in my room, I will lock the door until the crowd disperses. And as soon as I can, I will buy a ticket to another town.

The next morning in the shower, like most mornings, I will transfer into a mode of thought. Where motions and actions dissolve into nothingness and thought is all that remains. I will contemplate upon life: the purpose and the pretenses; the big bang origins and the moments after death; the nothingness of life and the everythingness of living. I will try and make sense of things and be left cold. Then it will hit me. Life is not a dream. Life is just an ongoing story, my story and your story; all our stories intertwined. I’m living mine a town and trade at a time. I will step out of the shower regaining my motions and actions and retaining my thought. I will seek out another trade. Theatre or plumbing, perhaps.

Truth is that I’m a hopeless romantic. I will do this until I have exhausted the combinations of towns and trades I desire. I will skip towns and switch trades until there is nothing left – until there is nothing. I can hear their footsteps. And I can see them now. The town’s people, they are tearing up my pamphlets and booklets as they walk towards me. Probably because I stressed the no-returns policy. They’re coming to tell me that I am not a real writer, and that I am nothing like the greats. I’m going to throw my laptop and portable printer in my bag and make a run for it.

I will wake up tomorrow in a room with a minimal setup, a room in another town.

bawra mann dekhne chala ek sapna