Girl who stole my poltergeist

Suresh Pattali
Filed on August 6, 2020

It has been hours. There's no repartee taking place between my mind and heart. I am well past the deadline. The untitled page on MS Word lies like a swath of virgin mountains blanketed in snow. My eyes are droopy from staring at the white mass for hours. Prying eyes around me are watching this madness of whiling inside a cone of silence.

I'm not a writer. I do not write whatever I write. There's a poltergeist dwelling inside my desktop who sculptures my emotions and thoughts, like a chatbot. Today, it looks like someone has broken into my musty, old library of thoughts and decamped with the poltergeist.

My fingers are like icicles hanging off the eavestroughs of a polar home; my cognitive field like a sunburned cane grove trampled by a herd of wild elephants. Words and thoughts seem to have lost their purpose. My soul roams like a derelict satellite abandoned in the wilderness of space.

"Son, you are looking lost?"


"Are you feeling sad?"

"I don't know?"

"Game for a walk?"

"I would feel lonely in a crowd."

"How about a drink?"

"I don't mix thoughts and drinks."

"Exit writing this week."

"Never. To write is an emotional commitment."

"Commitment to whom?"

"The poltergeist thief."

"So you know the thief? Are you feeling hurt?"


"If it hurts, it should bleed. The page should have been bloody by now."

"I'm suffering from emotional anaemia."

"Remember, great literature comes from great pain. Let the emotions flow. Spit your heart out. Don't give a damn about what you write."

"I feel like a kid who has lost his mother who read out stories every night."

"Feel like crying?"

"I want to, but I feel emotionally shut down. I'm unable to shed tears."

"Crying is not a sign of weakness. Everyone gets sad sometimes. Just cry; cry out loud."

"The emotional numbness life gifted me in the last few years has broken down my built-in system to feel deeply. My heart has grown cold and hard."

"They say a heart can only be softened with the cultivation of safe and caring attachments. The heart needs a guardian."

"Oh Father, give back my tears; let them burn my cheeks. Give back my whimpers and sobs; let them choke my lungs. Give back my heartbeats; let them serenade my soul. Give back my words; let them garnish my thoughts. Give back my poltergeist; let him write my column."

"You miss your poltergeist?"

"Nay, I miss the girl who stole the poltergeist."

"Why do you miss her?"

"Father, some friendships or relationships are hard to define. Their silence, more than their gaiety and wit, enchants you. They finally grow in you. The beauty of such relationships is you gestate them all through your life but never spawn them."

"It's so intricate. Ecstatic pain is a psychopathological condition."

"I had a friend who I met in a National Cadet Corps camp. I was the camp officer and he an ordinary cadet. I was in university and he in school. The chubby, bubbly lad looked like a snowman donning a military cap. We gelled so well we cried a sea of tears before exchanging addresses at the close of the camp. Several letters were exchanged before his mum informed me of his wish to spend a weekend at my place. Logistics had to be worked out meticulously in the pre-Internet era for the boy to travel alone to my place. Two blissful days. We wished the weekend would never end. We're like two brothers born to the same mother. Several decades later, his angular visage is still engraved in my memories. A couple of hours well spent become more profound and purposeful than a quotidian lifetime. It's hard to explain."

"Where did you meet the poltergeist thief?"

"When she first stole a glance at my writings. A blunt critic, she's a freaking savant when it comes to reading and writing. She's versatile. So much shared in so little time, she soon became a habit. A habit that, once broken, could be ruinous. There were no fights, hugs or goodbyes. Nor were there tears - of joy or pain. You don't expect such gestures from two introverts, do you? She just faded away into a black hole of the digital cosmos. A monsoon of grief and silence has since rained down on the wind-beaten summits of happiness.

I remember reading AG Gardiner's essay, On Habits. He narrates a cruel joke Scottish novelist Walter Scott played on a classmate, who never failed to answer a question in class. Scott noticed how the boy would play with a particular button on his waist coat while answering any question. Scott somehow got the button removed when the boy wasn't around. The next day, when the boy took the floor to answer a question, his finger slipped down to the particular button that typically unravelled his world of knowledge. It was not to be seen. He couldn't give an answer ever again. Ended up doing an inferior job, the fellow took to drinking and died."

"Poor thing."

"I feel like Walter Scott's unfortunate classmate. I've lost my habit, my rhythm, my voice."

"Son, what do you want me to do? Go and catch the poltergeist and thief?"

"Father, if you ever come across them, keep the poltergeist; bring me the thief."


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