Girish Joshi

the one in which Abu says “just write”

6 min read

“I feel like the words are betraying me.”

“Or do you feel like you are betraying your words?”

I gasped.

“These eyes, these eyes, when they look at me, I feel as if they are taking away something I love. These eyes of expectations. They are like slithering blades over my throat. I lose my breathing, and I lose my words.”

“What are they expecting of you?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know. Sometimes I feel that want my everything. As if nothing I’ll do will ever be enough. How long can a man live knowing that he’ll never be enough?”

He sighed.

“Do you feel like running away?”

“All the time.”

“Then why don’t you run away?”

I paused.



“But what if I start missing these eyes?”

“What do you mean?”

“As long as I don’t write, I’ll never find out how bad I am. What if maybe I’m afraid of finding out how bad I am? I’m afraid of finding out that I cannot run faster or longer.”

“Then these eyes will keep watching you.”

“Why do we fall in love with the cage?”

“We don’t love the cage. We love the captor.”


“Because we believe that someday, the captor will see our love, and set us free. It’s our defence mechanism, it’s our survival instinct.”

“I just want this feeling to go away. This heaviness. It makes breathing impossible for me.”



“Just write.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You don’t have to. Just write.”

“Write what? Anything?”

“No. Write the story you want to tell.”

“Sometimes I feel as if I’m losing my voice. I wake up every morning and don’t know how it is night again. I don’t even know who I am anymore. How do I tell the story? One must know who they are before they tell the story.”

“One often finds out who they are when they tell the story. The kind of stories we tell define the kind of man we become. Some men live their whole life without telling stories. But we don’t talk much about those men once they are gone.”

“I want to be the kind of man people talk about when I’m gone.”

“What do you want them to talk about you?”

“The good things. I want them to remember me for my goodness, not greatness.”

“Then you have to tell good stories.”

“But what if I don’t have any good story to tell?”

“All stories are just, well how do I say it? Just stories. It’s the storyteller who makes them good.”

“And what if I’m not able to make them good?”

He paused.

“Then you’ll make them bad. But so what, a bad story is still better than no story.”

“Which story should I tell then?”

“The one that’s closest to your heart.”

“I feel like closing my eyes and drifting to sleep.”

“Dreams are where the best stories reside. Goodnight, Ali.”

“Goodnight, Abu.”

“Morning rosebud.”


“What did you dream last night?”

“Why do we start forgetting our dreams the moment we wake up?”

“So that every night when dreams visit us, we watch them fondly, as if we are watching them for the first time.”

“Are you telling me that I have been watching the same dream for years?”


“And you have been watching the same dream for years?”


“Is your dream the same as mine?”

“No. We all dream different dreams. They come to visit us at night when we sleep, and we spend morning to evening forgetting the dream. When the night finally comes and we drift to sleep, the dream can sweep inside our heads again just as virtuously as it came on our first night on this planet.”

“Is that why we think of the dream so fondly?”

“Yes. That’s what being a dream watcher means. People have spent their whole lives trying to catch their dreams in the middle of the day, madness I say. It doesn’t do good to dwell on the dreams, dreams which would eventually come back to you every night.”

“But what if my dream doesn’t come back?”

He laughed.

“They always do.”

“No. There have been nights when I don’t remember having a dream at all.”

“Remembering is a funny thing. Sometimes we forget about the dream even before we wake up. This dream that I’m talking about, lives within us, so in reality it never leaves us, just that we forget about under the sun.”

“Then how does this dream gets her Vitamin D?”


“I’m joking.”

We chuckled.

“The purpose of our lives is to realize that dream. The dream we see under the starry sky. Some people say that these dreams that we see are about death. And we forget about them in the day so that we can carry on living. But I disagree. I think these dreams are about life. When our first woman and man must have gained consciousness, these dreams would have given them a purpose to wake up in the morning.”

“Abu, but I wake up in the morning for the breakfast. What’s in the breakfast?”

“But you did not tell me about your dream?”

“I forgot.”

He kept his hand on my head.

“Come, I’ve made waffles.”

“You know what I am going to write about?”


“The Dream.”

“Do you have a story in mind?”

“Listen to me: once upon a time, in a place far away from the city lived Ali and his Abu. Ali wanted to become the greatest storyteller but the stories just wouldn’t come to him. One moonless night, when everything seemed to have failed Ali, he turned to his Abu. And Abu being his sweet Abu, heard his little Ali’s worries. The words seemed to have failed him, Ali had thought. But Abu had just two words for Ali, and those were ‘just write’. That night Ali fell asleep belonging to his Abu’s arms, that’s where he always belonged. When the morning shone, Abu told Ali about the dream we carry within us but forget under the sunshine. Abu told Ali that ‘the dream’ is the purpose of our lives. This dream that pays us a visit every night when we sleep is the reason why we wake up in the morning. And Ali had spent his entire life waking up for his Abu’s waffles. Maybe this was it, maybe Ali needn’t be the greatest storyteller when he could just be the greatest dream watcher. And since then, in a place away from the city lived a boy who spent his night dream watching, and his days writing about them.”

“And that is how he became the greatest storyteller that ever lived?”

“Stop teasing me, Abu.”

Abu hugged his little Ali, and then he whispered to his ears.

“It’s time for you to go to school.”

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