The City of Dreams

He threw his satchel onto his unmade bed and sat down at the table. The deafening silence was broken only by the ticking of the ancient clock on the table. A hard lump was forming in his throat. He had been rejected again. They said his work was too abstract to interest them. This was not the first time he was being rejected, but that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt. With every picture he drew, his hopes would rise. He would be sure that this one would be his lucky break. Yet, each time his hopes were shattered, ground underheel by corporate magnates whose money dictated what was art and what was not. Each time he lost the strength to go on, but he couldn’t stop. He kept himself going. Today his hopes had been shattered yet again. The walls seemed to be closing in on him. He could feel the will to live slowly sap away. He tried to fight back the growing despair but it threatened to overwhelm his very being.

A loud rap on his door jerked him back to the present. He got up to open the door but hesitated. The knocking persisted. ‘I know you are in there. Open up!‘, his landlord’s voice rang out. He sunk back into his chair and buried his face in his hands. His eyes burnt with shame. He had been sneaking past his landlord for quite some time now. He didn’t even have money for food, let alone rent. Several months rent was now due, and as long as things didn’t change, it would only remain that way. He knew his landlord had not seen him and so would knock for sometime and go away. A nagging sense of shame tugged at his heart and he tried futilely to push it away. He knew the landlord wouldn’t throw him out. He was too kind hearted for that, and that thought only deepened his shame.

As he had expected, after a while, the knocks died out and he was left with just the ticking of the clock. He thought of how things were not long ago, how he had arrived in the city, full of life and hope. The city had fascinated him, with its speedy life and mechanic efficiency. Now all he could see was the heartlessness and loneliness. For a while, he had lived comfortably off the money he had brought with him. Once the money started running low and no job was yet in sight, desperation started creeping in slowly. Giant publishing houses and media powerhouses gave way to seedy publications and local magazines, and yet he never found retribution.

A nasty rumbling reminded him that he hadn’t had a proper meal in a long time. Getting up from the table, he filled up his mug with water from the clay pot and gulped it down. Though it quelled the burning in his stomach some, the weakness in his body clearly told him that he badly needed nutrition. He retrieved his precious stock of salted biscuits and had a couple along with some water. He felt a little better albeit a little lightheaded from the fatigue.

It had been really long since he had been “inspired” to draw. When desperation strikes, inspiration flees and necessity takes its place. He sat down at the table and opened his satchel. Out came his sketch pad and his pencil set. After a brief contemplation on how to be less “abstract”, he starts scratching.

Half-sketched, the pad lay on the table, like an abandoned letter. He stood by the window, looking out at the city spread in front of him. A strange numbness was growing inside him. He was never destined for this. Almost savagely, his mind pushed back that thought. He could not afford to think that. This was his dream. He consoled himself. Tomorrow would be different. Yes, tomorrow would be different.