It did not really matter what name I was given by my father because our family name would always make any name before that sound like an incongruity.
Our last name is Taanpure, the ‘t’ soft and ‘re’ as ray at the end. As if to compound my life and foreclose all my career options from the get-go my father, named Pundrik, christened me Tryambak.
Try saying the whole name with a purist’s delight—Tryambak Taanpure. We should all be grateful that my father was not a spy thriller writer in the league of Ian Fleming. “The name is Taanpure, Tryambak Taanpure” would have killed any villain with pure hilarity, I suppose.
My name is not the point of this short story, of course. With a name like that I had only a couple of career options— become a writer or a painter. I became a writer who tries to paint using words. The only change I made was to simplify the spelling of my name to Trambak Tanpure. This short story is about the actual process of plotting a short story by a writer named Trambak Tanpure.
I don’t quite know where I live but wherever I do there is a lushly flowered Gulmohar tree, one of whose branches extends into the window of my study. It is a flaming orange intrusion into my life that I do not mind at all. I can, of course, trim that branch but in the last couple of years it appears to have reached its optimal length. I can always shift my house a foot or so away but that does not seem practical. The only downside to this arborous invasion is that I cannot close my window throughout the year. Among its many upsides is that I can eat its buds before they explode into flamboyant flowers. I digress.
As a device to create a short story I have decided that its characters arrive by various means of transport depending on their economic background. As their creator I go to a local train station, airport and bus station to receive them over a period of a few days. The main character is a young woman enigmatically called Trufa who arrived this morning.
Other than knowing that she is the only heir to a massive ancestral fortune built over centuries I do not know much about her. Despite the fact that she could have flown in her own private jet with a couple of others follow right behind with no one onboard in a show of eccentricity of her ilk, Trufa has chosen to travel like the hoi polloi. I wanted to used the word swinish multitudes but she said that would be derogatory. I told her I am one of those swinish multitudes.
Trufa called me a couple of days ago to give me the details of her arrival. She said she was booked on coach S6 of the Puranik Express reaching Tulapur at 6 a.m. That’s how I found out the name of the town where I live—Tulapur. Since I am the one conceiving her character I might as well make her a stunningly beautiful 24-year-old. Her beauty surrounds her like a golden hued force field which clears any and all obstacles in her way. When she moves the world shifts a bit to make way for her. Her path is always evenly paved and her ambient air always fragrant with the fragrance of her choice. In case you cannot see her from quite a distance because of the golden glow, you can always smell Trufa from miles away. So I did not quite understand the rationale of telling me the coach number.
I reached the Tulapur station at 5.55 a.m. after confirming that the Puranik Express was on time. However, I had begun to smell the delightful jasmine from about 3 a.m. Her impending arrival had robbed me of my sleep because although I had a clear conception of what she must look like, I was anxious to see whether she actually lived up to my imagination. For some reason I had forgotten that she was my creation and did not have to come to me fully formed and fleshed out. I can always nip and tuck as it were. But then we all want our approximate imagination of beauty to be delivered fully detailed.
The jasmine fragrance did not grow stronger as the train approached the platform, thereby defying the Doppler effect. I could see her fabled golden hue radiating in the middle of the train. A couple of hundred people waiting for the train to pull in were transfixed by the surreal mixture of light and fragrance. The coach S6 stopped precisely where it was marked on the platform floor. It appeared that the whole train was empty except S6. The door opened gently and the fragrant golden glow rolled down. There was a slight bounce to it but it settled down in a couple of seconds.
The rest of the people looked bewildered as they gathered right behind me to see this spectral sight. I did not see Trufa inside the glow as I stood stupefied by my own creation. A few seconds later a hand tapped on my right shoulder. I turned around and found her standing there, statuesque and yet so full of life.
“Shall we?” she said as she held my left hand. When she spoke it felt as if the voice was coming from inside the fragrant golden glow.
We began walking towards the exit. I noticed that even though she was moving it appeared as if there was nothing underneath her feet. Earth seemed to have disappeared just under her. We stepped out of the station and waited for my driver to bring up the car. That’s when she suggested:
“Get inside the glow.”
I hesitated a bit but did get inside. The next thing I saw was that I was sitting in my study with Trufa holding a plateful of Gulmohar buds.
“Try one,” she said with a mischievous smile.
As I took my first bite the golden glow began to disintegrate.
“The first rule of my being here. The more you eat the buds, the more diminished I become. So no more eating Gulmohar buds. Let them bloom into full flowers. Trees don’t eat your babies, do they?”
Trufa had surpassed my imagination.