Once upon a time, there was a man; who fell in love with a woman. They got married had children, and lived happily ever after…
As kids, stories were such a five-finger exercise. So smooth, so penny-plain and so subtle. Then growing up happened. Curiosity set in, many a cat died, the cats with in us. Schrodinger’s too.
Adam and Eve eating an apple metamorphosed into something bigger. You start to wonder how thighs come into a story so pristine.
Little wonders about what Jack and Jill where doing up that hill, and how the well could be up, not down the valley.
Stories ceased to make sense, as we drowned in novels, belly-flopped deep into meaningless books, got lost in Mangas. With each text read, a realm of Sunyata. A rabbit hole with a trap for light at the end of the tunnel.
But still there remained that crave to read. To feed our little minds with something, anything. Twitter and Facebook happened, blogs too. And Snapchat and Instagram were invited to the party. And it was lit. As it was intimated that, as the Social Media platforms are food for the eyes, books and in particular short story books were food for the mind and the soul. So ensnaring…
One thing that’s eerie about stories, and mostly short stories is how quickly they can shape your surroundings, life and emotions. Maybe you start reading one over your lunch break and, if it’s the right one, before that peanut butter cup you bought for dessert even has a chance to finish its melting shape-shift into some kind of sugary cement, the whole world has been destroyed around you and then rebuilt, and then remodeled into something outlandish, Museveni has retired and Nelson Mandela resurrected. Nothing is quite the same again. Ohhh, until it ebbs away.
This happens whether you like it or not. The best short stories haunt you for days and weeks. They take you to a dimension you can feel but can neither live in nor touch. Great stories exercise this violent beauty on you in a variety of ways: some by making an absurd world familiar (or vice versa), some with a slow burn, some with a voice that colonizes your thoughts. Some do it quietly, almost without you even noticing, and some do it with high wire acts of imagination or intellect that make you into a breathless witness.
The trick, then, is finding the right story, one that is capable of such a thing. This is no easy task. Tastes differ, of course, and it can be confusing to spot the small boat of a great story on the wide sea of fiction. What any reader can offer you in terms of guidance is actually the same thing that any good writer can offer you with the story itself: a way of saying, This is what moved me and made me feel strange and alive in some way; here, why don’t you give it a try?
I could say it’s the same with Music. Find a song, and it takes your soul through every valley with all sorts of shadows, of course you fear nothing then for the beat is your comfort.