‘Another wayward white strand into the bin,’ he muttered, as he stretched his right hand to throw in the bin whatever it was that he held between his index finger and thumb. I was sitting right behind him and could see and hear what Param was doing. We shared the same room in the hostel.
A wayward white strand!
Well, Param does not have a beard.
Then what did he pluck and throw into the bin?
Does Param need to consult a psychiatrist?
I have no idea, because all I know is that he performs quite well in all exams and is expected to be a university topper at least in advertising and marketing. Did I forget to mention that Param does have a wildly fertile imagination? You just saw how this clean-shaven guy in his mid-twenties successfully imagined that he has a beard when, in reality, he doesn’t.
Is Param an actor?
I don’t think he can act. I’ve seen him angry when he is angry and sombre when that is what he is. I’ve never seen him smile when he is not feeling like smiling. I mean, if he is grumpy, he just shows it. He is quite a transparent fellow. Acting? Well, no, he isn’t even considered by the drama club because they said, ‘This guy is too short to be an actor and moreover, he doesn’t have that spark in him.’ What they meant was that he couldn’t fake it. You see what I mean?
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Note: This story is published on Writersmelon…
Story written on 20 August 2014
Published in Writersmelon on 22 September 2014
But Param does have a great imagination and quite often he psyches himself into a trance and imagines what he wants to be. These days he is imagining that he has a beard. No, it wasn’t always like this. He wasn’t at all like this at the start of the semester. I think you also must know that we are in the final semester of our MBA and in another month or so we will have the usual horde of recruiters walking in and taking their pick. And Param believes that beards and creativity go together. Now because he is genetically not beard-lucky, he decided to imagine he has a beard.
‘This will infuse my being with creative impulses,’ Param once told me, ‘I know this because I have friends in the ad circles and working in creative positions in Shoreditch and Broklyn. They are mostly with beards and are overflowing with creative ideas.’ He then told me that there was a definitive link between beard-stroking and creative thinking. Now if you think his beard obsession is only on an emotive level, you’re wrong. He has researched all the facts that link a beard with creative and good thinking and is convinced that if he successfully imagines that he sports a flowing beard, he would get sharper and more incisive in his ideas… ‘And this is what the best ad agencies want,’ he surmised. For those who still found his imagination theories hard to digest, he invariably quotes William Arthur Ward: “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”
As I was saying, Param began living his beard and creativity hypothesis only some time back. He wasn’t like this at the start of the semester. I have seen him struggle with trying to hand-draw artworks. ‘This is essential,’ he said, ‘We really need to hand-draw things because that is the only way a really great idea would tend to flow in unobstructed. The mind loves to direct hands.’ But his artworks were invariably far from what he wanted them to be.
‘Art,’ he insisted, ‘is what will make my left and right hemisphere equally strong. Without this combination, I am doomed to remain mediocre.’ I have seen him stay awake throughout the night, restlessly trying to search for a way out. He knew he was not an artist and he had this sinking feeling that he just might have to stay with one part of his brain withered and hopeless. ‘What good will half a brain be to me and my dreams?’ he wailed when every soul in the hostel slept peacefully. And then the ‘raindrops on paper’ miracle happened.
Param got up one morning and asked, ‘What do you do when you are in a dilemma and are seeking the right path?’
‘I go inwards,’ I said, ‘my intuition will show me a way. Some way.’
He smiled and said, ‘This is conventional thinking. We go inwards because we know that the power that controls us is also a part of our intuition. But look around you. That same power is all around you in everything that lives and all that we call non-living.’ I nodded because it made sense. I mean, I am not the only one who is blessed with that power. Everyone is. So he surmised that the solution will be far stronger and far more meaningful if all the powers in the entire universe decided to solve his problem.
‘I want the powers of the universe to tell me how to be a good artist,’ he said, and he took a piece of paper, dabbed some watercolours in a random sort of way and kept it near the open window of our room.
‘Are you expecting some magic to happen,’ I said and laughed. But Param was serious and replied, ‘Just wait and watch. I am sure the solution isn’t far away.’
So what do think happened then?Well, actually nothing happened that I could say was a miracle. It was a clear day… but then the clouds appeared and it started raining. Then a gentle wind pushed a few raindrops inwards and all I saw was Param’s paper with colour smudges. The wind then dropped… and after sometime even the rain stopped. The sun came out again.
Normal. This is quite normal. I couldn’t see any miracle anywhere.
Param walked up to his sheet of paper and looked at the smudges. They were nearly dry now. He looked at them as if he were trying to decipher some complex ancient hieroglyphs and then opened his pen and drew some lines. Then he showed it to me and I was startled.
‘This is a great artwork, man!’
‘Yes, and it tells me to let colours find their own way,’ he said, ‘and they will talk to your mind and something unique is then born.’ He then thought for a while and added, ‘You know you just need to imagine a thing and you’ll have the power to complete it. I was actually trying to draw balloons of different shapes and couldn’t. Then I kept this sheet with colours splashed on it and this is what a few raindrops did for me.’ He called this artwork ‘raindrops on paper’ and called it his first step into the real world of creative thinking.
It was only later that he stumbled on to Arthur Ward’s quote that said: ‘If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.’ And then his quest to adopt creativity through controlled imagination became an obsession. ‘Words and ideas will not come to just anyone,’ he told me, ‘they are a choosy lot. They stop only when they see the right ambiance.’
It was sometime after his revolutionary experience of ‘raindrops on paper’ that he read somewhere about the relationship between a beard and good thoughts. His research led him to some Professor Hill’s paper and he quoted from it: “We remember the Biblical story of when Delilah cut off Samson’s hair in the Book of Judges. As a result of this Samson lost his strength. Our research has found that there is credence in this story as men who are creative and have had beards, but shaved them off, lose on average 50% of their ideas each day.” This was his next eureka moment… and no, he didn’t run naked in the hostel corridor, but simply told me, ‘All I need to do is to imagine I have a beard. Words and ideas will see me as the right substrate and land on me faster and with more frequency.’
This happened years back. But I know that Param is now a hot-shot creative boss in some ad agency in London. And I’m sure he will still be filling imaginary bins with imaginary strands… and words and ideas would be dropping by at an unnerving pace. My intuition also tells me that Param must not have framed his ‘raindrops on paper’ artwork but it must still be pinned carefully to a board where he would see it daily.