I feel beginnings are always easy, yes, some amount of planning may go into starting something, but generally once the first step is taken the rest comes easy. One step leads to another, you begin to trundle, then you slowly walk, as you familiarize with the pace you begin to march, and then when you reach a stage where you can control it, you begin to run. But when do you stop? Or more importantly how do you stop? How do you end it?
Endings have always fascinated me, it takes the smallest of efforts to begin something. It takes a “Hello” to build a relationship, a hum to start a tune, a cold stare to instigate a fight, a simple sentence to write a story. But the million dollar question is: Where do you put the full stop? Every time I hear the news of a new big budget movie being released, or of a television series that I keenly follow entering its final season, it always makes me wonder how they are going to pull the plug off of its characters. I am never worried about how it will begin, all I think about is how all the pieces would come together to give it a fitting conclusion.
“Will Nolan kill off Batman in the end?”
“Will Dexter get caught by the police?”
“Will Lizbeth Salander finally get her vengeance in the third and final installment of the Millennium Trilogy?”
I was thinking over the same lines about a television series I had been hooked to over the past six months. HBO’s critically acclaimed Cops and Criminals drama “The Wire”. In an age where the narrative for many a one-hour television shows try to cram in so much of drama and events into its runtime, that it totally neglects any chance for building characters that the audience can get attached to , “The Wire” comes across as an epic novel where each page is filled with an amount of detail to munch on that you could never have your fill, an extensively crafted world of Baltimore where the characters reside, an intricate description of how the cops build a case against the criminals, the canny ways in which the criminals evade the cops, and to top it all some of the finest bunch of actors in any television drama. Ever. The events don’t unfurl at a cartoonish pace of a cat running behind a mouse, but instead it unveils methodically like a cheetah preying on a deer. From marking the target, to scoping its movements, to setting the trap and playing the waiting game, to finally catching it in the act, and in the end putting it down – The Wire is not a television show that is merely a passing of time, it is a hard-hitting depiction of police procedure that demands our investment of time.
As I chugged towards the Series Finale at a slow pace prolonging the end, saving it for a Friday night after a hard day’s work, I gave myself more time to be absorbed into the world of The Wire. I had been playing its title track, revisiting its finest scenes, mouthing off dialogues to myself, reading critiques and appreciations of it on the internet, and spreading the word about its brilliance to many who hadn’t heard of it like it were a Gospel from God. And at the same time, I managed to pretend to work at the office too.
“I think I will cry once I am done with it.” I confessed to a friend over lunch at the office pantry.
Isn't that what all great pieces of art make you do? It enriches you by telling some amazing stories, it shows you a world you thought never existed, it introduces you to characters you get so attached to, that when one of them, a recovering alcoholic, goes back to his old ways, you shake your head tut-tutting in dismay as if he were your friend. And once it all ends, it leaves behind a gaping hole which you try to fill by reminiscing about the countless brilliant moments that you experienced while it lasted. Boy, I couldn't wait to see how it all would end. Would they tie the loose ends or leave some as open-ended? The whole series had been so perfect throughout that I hoped they wouldn't muck up the final episode.
The Ending is all that mattered to me that day.
Once the clock struck five, I grabbed my things and raced out of the building. I hoped there would be no power outage at home in the evening, that would be like throwing cold water on all my plans. I wished the cab I was in was any smaller in size so that it could navigate through the traffic quickly, it was around 7 p.m when I got dropped off at the bike stand. I now had a twenty minutes drive from the stand to my home. I could make it in ten if I drove fast enough.
I hurried to where my bike was parked, the helmet was under the seat, over-sized and red it seemed more appropriate on someone who was flying a Sukhoi, not on some bespectacled geek who drove an Activa. And besides, I would reach home in another ten minutes anyway. I turned the ignition on and push started the Activa as it purred to life, I gave the accelerator full throttle as the engine woke up from its sleep. I sped my way out of the entrance of the parking stand and into the street as if I were Batman on his Batmobile on the streets of Gotham. With a wide grin on my face and the image of me curled up in front of the sofa sipping on apple juice while watching the final episode, I maneuvered my way through the hordes of two-wheelers that were on the street. Maybe I should stop by at a bakery and get something to munch on. The viewing experience for me has to be perfect. A drink in one hand, and a packet of chips in another. Nice.
My train of thought was interrupted by the goddamn college bus behind me that was honking like there was no tomorrow, taking up most of the road he left me with no choice but to slow down and give him the way. The road was narrow as it is, if only the bloody road was wider. As the bus whizzed past me and moved to the left, it gave me enough space to sneak past it through the right, I can easily accelerate and leave the bus behind. I signaled my indicator to the right and raised my speed. Sometimes, when your adrenaline is high and the juices are pumping through your system, you feel that luck is on your side. I steadily moved ahead of the bus only to realize that he was taking the turn at a bend in the road. Never overtake while negotiating a turn, something I was taught by my father which I now conveniently forgot. Shit. And to make matters worse, there was another incoming bike from the other side of the road who had taken the turn. I tried to hit the brakes to avoid the collision, but either way I was sandwiched between the bus and the bike speeding towards me from the opposite direction.
The last thing I felt was the guy’s helmet hit my face, and then, everything went dark.
The cops told my parents that there was not a scratch on my body, despite the severity of the impact. It was later revealed that my heart had stopped functioning seconds before the collision.
So, this is how it all ended for me.
I wonder how the ending for The Wire was.