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The rock was talking to her.

The line came to her randomly as usual. This time, it occurred while she was in the middle of a conversation with her father and the television reporter was saying something about the assassination of a former prime minister of Pakistan.

The writer wrote it down in her diary before she left for her grandmother’s house –

‘28th of December. Friday.’

And then in quotation marks –

The rock was talking to her.’

The next morning, she sat down with her laptop and began the process of staring at the blank MSWord document on the LCD screen and biting her fingernails raw. Behind her was the illusory presence of Takya, her muse, reading her write-up out loud.

The rock was talking to her.

How or why it came to happen that a perfectly inanimate lump of igneous matter without even a mouth to speak of suddenly found itself talking was moot at the moment, the point being –

It was TALKING to HER.

It sat squat in the middle of the road, yapping some nonsense about how to surgically remove the human appendix.

Takya stopped reading to let out a long-suffering sigh.

“What?” The writer asked, turning around to look at her inquiringly.

“Hopeless,” Takya muttered under her breath.


“It’s absolute nonsense.”

The writer stared at the document for a moment, as though trying to see Takya’s point and failing, turning to her again with a questioning look. “What?”

“‘How or why it came to happen that a perfectly inanimate blah, blah, blah, blah…. It was TALKING to HER.’ That’s what,” Takya said. “It’s structurally incorrect and you’re just being blithe. Blabbing.”

“But I am blabbing,” the writer said, and then hurriedly corrected herself. “I mean, the character is blabbing. She’s panicking. This is the first time. She’s never seen anything of the sort. She’s an existentialist.”

“Indeed,” Takya said, not all together convinced. “Then, shouldn’t she be a little more…”

“Logical?” The writer finished.

“In her expositions, at least,” Takya said. “And what’s this about the human appendix?”

The writer gave a faint laugh. “Nothing. It’s funny.”

“Are you writing a comedy then?” Came the biting retort.

The writer just shrugged but the smile on her face was starting to fade. “Maybe,” she mumbled, frowning at the screen. After a moment, she huddled closer to the laptop and began typing once more.

“…so do you believe me now?” The rock finished explaining and – she imagined – stared at her with its nonexistent eyes as though waiting for an answer.

“That is just confusing. The sentence structure,” Takya said.

There was a pause in the writer’s tap-tapping on the keyboard before the rhythmic sound renewed itself. The writer did not respond.

“I don’t think it makes a difference whether I believe you or not,” she said faintly.

The whole thing was quite amusing, really, IF SHE WASN’T GOING INSANE. Some kind of psychological reaction to the all-nighter she pulled last night maybe? She was hallucinating. Too much coffee in her blood. Over-stimulated neurons. Her amygdala going haywire. She didn’t care; she was talking to a fucking rock!

“Lovely. And why don’t you just substitute wit with cursing?” Takya said, placing a delicate hand on the writer’s table. “Really, is there no better way to eloquence?” She asked in irritation.

“Not like I’m trying to be eloquent,” the writer muttered, continuing to type.

“That’s the problem. It’s ordinary. Reading, I don’t care much for what happens,” Takya stated.

The tap-tapping stopped and for a long while there was only the blinking cursor indicator on the screen. Then, without speaking, writer stood up to make herself a cup of coffee. As soon as she was gone, Takya took her seat to read the write-up again, her brows wrinkled at the middle.

“Shall I try my hand then?” She called.

“Use the line,” the writer only said from the kitchen.

Several minutes passed and the writer, with cup in hand, started to turn back. Somewhere in the house, a certain muse of her acquaintance was typing away at the laptop.

“Well?” The writer asked a moment later, standing at the narrow doorway, holding the cup with both hands.

Takya looked back and gave a smile of satisfaction. “Read for yourself.” Then she vacated the seat with a little more flourish than necessary.

The writer placed her cup next to the laptop and sat down.

Change must be a little like death.

As trees shed their autumn raiment

For the death-sleep of snow,

So must people shed parts of themselves;

The trees must die in winter,

That must be so.

Their barks black and earthen.

But sometimes, I wonder

Is there really change?

Or are these withered and dried up

Parts of ourselves simply locked in

Slumber, waiting

For winter to seep into spring?

“But you didn’t use the line,” the writer said, glancing at Takya.

“No, I didn’t,” Takya confirmed.

“I specifically told you.”

Takya stared at the screen wordlessly while the writer took a sip of her coffee. “Maybe you should try putting in a few more lines in there,” the writer suggested. “I rather like the word ‘half-articulate.’”

“It’s not a word,” Takya muttered but dutifully took the seat again and typed.

Change must be a little like death.

As trees shed their autumn raiment

For the death-sleep of snow,

So must your soul be whipped

And beaten, shed of flesh.

The trees must die in winter.

It must be so.

Their barks black and earthen.

The flesh must die.

It must be so.

And your soul half to death beaten.

But while you live sufficient

In your half of the world

I lie dark and tense and waiting

Only half-articulate and half-moved

I die in this wait, heart all raging

Oh, winter come!

While I still breathe, frozen

Come –

My heart’s a rock talking,

Wishing with awful want

For winter to seep into spring.

“Why does everything have to be so morbid with you?” The writer asked after a while.

“What?” Takya asked in an indignant voice.

“This,” the writer said, gesturing at the laptop. “You must have mentioned death and dying at least five times in there.”

“It’s poetry.”

“It’s emo,” the writer clarified.

Takya stared at her for a long moment before she sighed wearily. “It’s poetry, my cold, uncultured friend.”

The writer was not listening. She stared moodily at the laptop again, reading and re-reading the passage. “And you didn’t use the line. It’s supposed to be ‘the rock was talking to her.’ You changed it completely.”

“You can’t contain something boundless within your own sense of limitation,” Takya pointed out. “You are boundless and free and lawless. But how can you discover and expand if you willfully put yourself in a cage?” She said lengthily.

“You are getting ahead of yourself,” the writer said with derision. “I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I’m not sure I even want to know.”

“Ah, and here I thought you were either naturally incurious or just another uncouth subterranean, when really, you’re both,” Takya retorted.

“And you’re a slave-driver.”

“Correction. I am a muse.”

“Is there a difference?”

“My word!” Takya exclaimed indignantly but the writer was no longer listening as she typed furiously on the keyboard.

The rock took advantage of her silence and sidled closer. It said, “If you try to analyze it by logic, you’ll only give yourself a headache.”

She thought she was going to faint and said so.

“Very well then,” Takya finally said, after a long time, giving another one of her long-suffering sighs. “You can have today to write as you please. But don’t come to me for help, otherwise, you shall have to write it however I please.”

The writer turned to her with a triumphant grin. “It’s a deal, then?”

Takya looked moderately insulted. “I do not talk coarse,” she arrogated. A pause and then, relenting: “It’s a relinquishment of prerogative,” the muse declared.

“That’s a common reaction,” the rock said matter-of-factly.

“I don’t think I can understand this, let alone grasp. Should I get myself examined, checked up – fuck, committed? You --” she gestured with her hands “—you’re a rock.”


“You’re talking!”

“I myself was surprised to find out, but yes.”

“…but it’s not logically possible.” She managed to say that right before she fainted.

“Ridiculous,” came the comment from behind her.

The writer merely smiled and went on typing.

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