Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Talking Puppets: Part 1

                                 The Talking Puppets: Part 1

He never knew the puppets spoke amongst themselves at night. His sleep was rarely disturbed by those hushed voices. Occasionally, one of the female puppets would squeak in excitement and the Puppeteer would groan in his sleep. When he woke up in the morning, he would not remember it at all...

Nobody knew what his origins were. The Puppeteer himself had only vague recollections of his childhood. It was almost as if he had woken up one day with a bag of puppets and decided to make puppetry his life.

The bag was a faded green with three kinds of puppets - male puppets, female puppets and animals. Every year, he would discard one puppet from the entire lot. If in the first year it was a male, then it would be female in the second and an animal in the third and the cycle would repeat. He would replace the discarded puppet with a new one that he fashioned on his own. He had one rule though. All his puppets would be of the same size and shape. This simple rule was his biggest strength.

For he was no ordinary Puppeteer. He was gifted. Or he had honed his skills to that degree of perfection,that people called him gifted. He would start off with no story in mind. At the start of the performance, his mind would be a "blank slate" as he called it. As he pulled out each of the puppets from the bag and placed them on his orange mat, the story would unfold from the deepest recesses of his mind. Nobody, including the Puppeteer, knew which would be the character that would appear from the bag. Once he placed the puppet on the orange mat, he would introduce the character to the audience and its relevance to the entire story that day. His creativity was at an other level. But only he knew the years of practice and perseverance behind the spontaneity of his art. 


The puppets were in general a cheerful lot. The Puppeteer's many stories had breathed consciousness to them. Or to be precise, the many emotions the Puppeteer made them go through in his stories had breathed consciousness to them. Each puppet over a period of time came to understand the meaning of happiness, love, kindness, empathy, anger, sorrow, jealousy and the like. It took a few more years for them to feel it. And to be able to express those emotions was only a natural progression.

In due course of time, they started speaking amongst themselves. They picked up the Puppeteer's dialect quite well and quite soon. The conversations would centre around that day's show; how impressive the Puppeteer was or how could he have manipulated the story to increase it's appeal with the audience; There was general agreement about his talent though. And a certain respect.  

So it was a little alarming to the other puppets when the Old Man puppet started shouting loudly one night. The Saint was trying to calm him down. "He will wake up and find out about us. Control yourself"the Saint was saying. The other puppets were waking up too. The Policeman flashed his torchlight and the Cow started mooing.
"Sit down Old Man..we'll sort this out" the Saint was saying. Being one of the older Puppets, he commanded the respect of the group.
The Policeman placed his torchlight in the centre and all the Puppets sat around it. The Servant climbed to the mouth of the bag and sealed it, so no noise or light escaped the bag.

"I don't want my Son to be discarded. He just can't die" the Old Man was wailing. Every Puppet knew this moment was due for quite some time. The Old Man's Son was the oldest puppet in the lot now. The Puppeteer would soon discard the Son to make way for a new puppet. They knew this part of their existence and each of them would be gone....one day or the other. But nobody had chosen to rebel so far. Nobody knew how they could rebel as well.
"All of us exist because of the Puppeteer. We can't possibly overrule him. We would not even feel these emotions but for him" the Saint said.
"But the fact remains that we feel these emotions. And we need to respect it. He needs to respect it as well" The Old Man retorted. "Look at him...he's a young boy. Look how pale he has turned ever since he got to know he would be discarded"
"The color is fading Old Man" the Philosopher mused, with a practicality that was unlike him "And it could be because the color is fading that he is being discarded..and not the other way round!"

There was silence. The female puppets started squeaking amongst themselves. "This discarding needs to stop. It was our daughter last time" The Curious Neighbor (as she was called by the Puppeteer) was saying. "I wish someone saw my tears at that time"
" We can't shed tears. And the emotions we feel are borrowed ones. Are they real at all...? He makes his audience happy by introducing a new character every year...and we feel sorry about losing one of our kin. One man's joy is an other man's sorrow". The Philosopher said.

"But we are losing one of our members all the same" shouted the Rebel. The Puppeteer grunted in his sleep. "It's time we rebel...in Our World too". He got all the Puppets in a huddle.

A plan was hatched.


                                                                                                              -12th January, 2016
                                                                                                              (To be continued)