Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Tower

Every week the tower grows taller. A new story is added, a new set of girders reclaims the emptiness. Or expands it. Because that is all the tower is: a framework, an outline - no floors, no walls, no roof - just a skeleton of steel and concrete with a staircase worming its way through, climbing forever upward.

This isn't how he'd planned it. When work on the tower first began, he'd meant it to have just eight stories. That had seemed reasonable. He hadn't know yet what companies would be leasing out the place, but given the location he didn't think selling eight floors of office space would be too much of a problem.

Then, when they'd finished working on the scaffolding for the eighth floor, he'd thought, why not just add one more? Maybe they could put in a rooftop restaurant. Or lease out the ground floor for shops and shift the offices one floor up. So a ninth floor had been added, then a tenth, then an eleventh.

By now he had lost count of just how many stories the tower had. Every week he would visit the construction site and the foreman would tell him that they were done with the structure and were ready to start putting in the floor and walls, and every week he would decide to hold off on that and go one story higher instead.

The foreman had started looking at him as though he were mad.

Maybe he was. It was a little crazy to go on building this way. By now they were well past the point when he could even pretend that the upper floors would ever be used. In fact, they were unlikely to even be built, because money was fast running out. The first time they'd gone over budget he'd gone back to his loan company and managed to talk them into increasing their funding, but he didn't think they'd fall for that again.

He really should stop. It wasn't just the money. The workmen were beginning to complain about the height, and who knew if so tall a building was even safe? And yet every time he stood in front of the tower, staring up at it, he was overcome by its sheer potential, by the incredible possibility of taking it a little further, a little higher.

Who cared if the floors and walls ever got built? If anyone ever lived or worked here? Who cared if he ran out of money, had to abandon the whole project, spent the rest of his life in debt? At least it would always be here, this monument to his appetite, this glorious reminder of how high he'd wanted to go, how close to the sky he'd managed to reach.



Cheshire Cat said...

Liked the self-referentiality.

dazedandconfused said...

You can't keep building up towers if your foundation isn't planned for it. Plus at greater heights, you have additional wind forces and you have to also consider that the center of gravity keep going higher.

What, am a Civil Engineer by education, I have every right to be indignant!:)

qsg said...

As Kabir said:
"Bada hua to kya hua, jaise ped khajoor,
Panthi ko chhaya nahin, aur phal laage atti door!"

It's lonely at the top, especially if you were particularly inconsiderate about the people who helped you get there! :) Oh well, to each their own...

dazedandconfused said...

By the way, where do you host your audio files?

Have been googling but not happy with the results so far.


neoe said...

He could always rent it out as a scaffolding off which to bungee jump.

Kusum Rohra said...

Reflects the fundamentals of the organisation I was working with. They expanded business like a baniya would stock his shop without any plans of the utility.

@Gemini: Forget how lonely it is at the top, you also have to sit back and think _why_ you want to be there, at what _cost_ you are going there.

notlistening said...

this 'monument' which whets his cloyless appetite incessantly instead of feeding it.. this 'glorious reminder' of how when one rises or works to rise he's considered insane..bet he'd touch the stars if he wanted:)

n said...

what drives overreaching? the desire to leave a legacy, a "glorious reminder" as you say, the proclivity to self-destruct, or just a something in the genes that doesn't permit giving up?

Falstaff said...

cat: Thanks

d&c: Sheesh! you engineers!

On audio files, if you're referring to the Poi-tre recordings, they're on this thing called www.archive.org. That's about all I know about it. Black Mamba is the person you want to be asking.

qsg: Hmmm...my Bhakti poetry is a little rusty, but wasn't Kabir also the guy who said something about "Chadhe to chakhe prem ras, gire to chakna chood?"

neoe: good idea. Shall pass it on.

kusum rohra: Okay, to be honest, I had something a bit more metaphysical / artistic in mind, but whatever interpretation works for you. At least this way people can't say my stories are becoming less abstract.

notlistening: yes.

n: Personally, I think it comes from the realisation that most achievement is trivial anyway, so you might as well go out in a blaze of glory.

harry said...

Ah Falstaff, Falstaff, surely you meant to write "chakna choor" in ending that Kabir quote, didnt you? Your version does make for all sorts of interesting suggestions though... ;-)

qsg said...

@Falstaff: I am sure he wrote the one I cited after the one noted by you! ;) He had to add the qualifier, eventually! :D

@Kusum: Very well said - given the basic intelligence and training, everyone can reach the top, what you give up to get there is another story!

n said...

@ falstaff
yes that makes sense. ur post made me indulge in my favourite activity, asking pointless questions. i linked to you. and it was a lovely story. for some reason, it made me vaguely think of fountainhead, which is stupid.

:) said...

ha ha

i'm reading fountainhead right now.