Translated Story: The Studio

The Studio

Main: Saurav Chaliha
Translated by: Abhisek Kumar Sharmah

Isn’t it funnier? The way you would have perceived me. You would have probably thought that in this cozy studio, you will be framed in a captivating picture, that these fluorescent lights and the synthetic backdrop behind you and your kith and kin will create a perfect recipe for an illustrious photograph. You will probably leave them and enter into a new family and just before that, you would trust me to capture the remaining moment of your yester-life. Yes, I am the artist here and I am meddled with making your life a little better with a click, with just a click? But you have no idea that I am roaming around somewhere around the 19th century, in Paris, around the corpse of a deceased woman. She was murdered brutally at broad daylight by the avenue and people believed that her pupil shone radiant and bright reflecting the image of her assassin, upright and pointing the dagger towards her. You wouldn’t believe that ever, nor will I. But during those times, when there wasn’t much hullabaloo of schools, people used to believe that our eye is just like a camera, it carried for good the last image magnified through it, perhaps like the last film of a camera…

As I gybed through the back of my camera, you closed your eyes. I will pop up again, instruct you to put on a happy face and you will obey me like a puppet. You would assume a subtle pose and your eyes…they would shout out trillions of stories to ponder over. “Eye is an incredible device”- Da Vinci used to say “It’s like a window for the soul “. Such an incredible device that I realized its magnificence as soon as I saw you for the first time in my studio. If I were a poet, I would have said that it’s such an incredible poem, a thing of art, sculpture and all other aesthetic aspects. Keats used to say that a thing of beauty is a joy forever. What can be more beauteous to possess an eye, a delicate yet whimsical eye? The wheatish flimsy curtain of flesh guarding the band of muscles centered by the sapphire lake of iris. Luckier were those who somehow somewhere got propagated and magnified through them. If, only for a fragment of a moment , I was there through your eyes and your nerves sending abrupt signals to your skull…..
My camera is on the verge of clicking a momentous snap. As I force open the wheatish curtain of flesh against gravity, a band of lights will strike the elliptical muscles that it concealed from mainland cacophony. It goes through a circular screen and a juicy cauldron of flesh and liquids. Proceeded by them lies the iris through which I viewed you for the first time, or perhaps you saw me for the first time. Then you would have probably tightened untightened the egg-shaped muscles of you to let me trespass through the privacy of your mind. As I loiter further, I will see a lake, a lake of saline water, yet infested with unconventional liquids as if broken pieces of glasses. If I cross this, I would find a tiny yet huge universe of muscles. It’s reddish as if an insane painter has let his brush weep through the canvas. A tree of nerves emanating from everywhere and constituting a mesh of thin fine lines. Within this paradise, I am swimming somewhere in the saline lake and I would see my magnified image on that reddish sky. But I wasn’t that normal, I was totally inverted, my shoes towards my face, my skull towards my shoes…
I would look bizarre, completely bizarre that you can’t stop laughing looking at me, that unusual grotesque image of mine…
But you are not laughing as you haven’t seen me yet. You also don’t know how within fragments of seconds those funny images are reinstated into normalcy and you will see the world as it is, maybe a little clearer and starker than me. You also don’t have the idea of what happens to the intangible parts within your eyelids, how the cylindrical and conical cells formulate harmonious equations for your smooth running. You only know how grossly I was bewildered at your sight and that I was staring you as long as I could. At least I can vaunt that I occupied the space within your eyeballs for a fragment of time, I was oscillating within those mighty cylindrical and conical structures and your brain tried its best to hurl a perfect impression of mine. Just like it formed myriads and myriads of images throughout your life. Some of them you might have kept preserved…those childhood days, playing in puddles, staring at the night sky, fishing by the lakeside and what else. Wouldn’t I be lost somewhere in that traffic, wouldn’t I suffocate there?
And even if you store my image, why will you recall me again. Why will you even bother that only I am capable of preserving the last few moments of your bachelor days? You will see the world in a different day from now on… new people new faces. And one day, you wouldn’t help to throw me out of your memory cells. On your deathbed, when grief and helplessness surround you, you would bring back one of those pleasant moments, maybe of your mom cradling you, maybe of your lover offering a moist kiss..
Isn’t it funnier that you still believe that I am going to end up by clicking your picture only and forfeiting my payment? If I knew a little lesser about the “incredible device”, if we lived around Paris in the 19th century during the days of that deceased woman and you were at my studio, I promise I would have killed you. I would have struck my dagger onto you in such an ominous fashion that you would be left astonished. How can I let you forget that easily! I would be evergreen for you and no one could have replaced me ever…
 “Hey, we have a brilliant focus, smile please,” I said from the back of my camera, opening the lid of the lens.

(Editorial Note:  Saurabh Kumar Chaliha (1930 – 25 June 2011)  is the pen name of a famous Assamese short story writer. His real name was Surendra Nath Medhi. His short story collection Ghulam won the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award in 1974. Chaliha did not go to receive the award himself and it was later sent to him by the Akadem. In the year 1995, he was also honored with the Assam Valley Literary Award. But, the reclusive Chaliha publicly accepted formal recognition only once. In one of his award acceptance speeches, he went even further and said, ‘I feel like an interloper.’ Writing under a pseudonym, he directly came into public limelight only once, when he publicly accepted the Assam Valley Literary Award from a corporate body in Guwahati city under full attendance of the media and the public. Except for this single instance, Chaliha remained an enigma for his countless admirers all his life.
 Saurav Chaliha is one of the greatest story writers of Assam. He is well known for his mysterious narrative and plots.)

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  1. I wonder, what is so mysterious about the narratives technique of late Chaliha's! It's only that instead of making things too obvious he only draws a carto graph of dots that needs to be connected to find the outline & there onto delve further deep into his purport. This however is entirely my personal perspective & am open to correction. The only thing I'm pretty sure about is that he says what he means more in the sub-text than in the written text.