The Honorable Thief By Anjali Roongta

The Writiesta Writing Competition had a lot of writers showcase their talent. We have selected 5 best entries for the same.

This one, written by Anjali Roongta is one out of the 5 best entries.

"Sir, we can't arrest you!"

Jason stopped at the exclamation, head half turning towards the conversation.

A police officer and a suave man with a guitar slung over his shoulder were discussing the man's arrest. Well, the man was talking, and was he trying to trying to convince the officer to arrest him?

"Now, even innocents want to experience prison! This is not a hotel, sir! I can't arrest you."

No wonder, the officer seemed the picture of impatient distress with his flying hands and tapping foot.

Intrigued Jason moved closer, now standing behind the pair.

"Oh come on! Never seen someone try and turn themselves in before?"

The guitarist's voice sounded familiar yet distant.

Like the voice, one hears on a train one day and in a market days later. Known yet unheard of.

A child ran up to the talking pair, asking for an autograph.

Smiling, the guitarist ruffled the kid's hair and signed. Turning back to the conversation, he kept trying to persuade the officer to throw him behind bars.

A camera flashed and the man turned to wave at the two reporters hurrying towards him.

Then, calm as a cucumber, he slung an arm around Jason's unsuspecting shoulders, threw a two finger salute at the officer and almost ran away, dragging Jason along.

"Well, thanks for that. Journalists, I love them about as much the next celebrity!"

Bewildered Jason nodded along, staring at the guitarist as he turned his face to the sky. He took into account the tapping feet, an impatient rhythm that reminded him of looking for something that was a hand's reach away. The slight shaking of the head as the musician let the wind ruffle his hair, almost as if rejecting something, did not escape Jason's notice either.

Out of place, curious, and more than a little scared, which he knew was evident by the sweat he could feel beading on his forehead, and the slight tremble in his legs, Jason decided to throw caution to the wind. His Laura always did say he could be braver. This unknown man owed him one, after all. Wiping his brow, he blew out a breath and lifted his chin.

"Never seen someone try so hard to get arrested."

"Well, I am a thief."

Jason's blood ran cold and he turned to walk, or rather run, away, the tremble in his feet increasing as his brain cursed at him for being a naive idiot. He was about to spout off an excuse when a group of giggling and laughing young girls came up to the thief, and he smiled at them.

This would have distressed Jason more but the girls seemed to know the man and hadn't he said something about being a celebrity?

So which one was he?


A public figure?

They did say curiosity killed the cat, he decided and turned back to hear the conversation.

"We love your songs! "

Song? Well, there was the guitar.

"They are so realistic! "

"The latest? It made me cry. It was... It was like it captured everything I have ever felt! "

"Can we have a picture? "

Smiling, the man posed and Jason laughed.

"Thief huh? " He asked, and added sarcastically, "And now you are a musician! Next, you'll be a magician! Ha! "

The singer shook his head, grinned and said, "Oh no, I am none of those. I am a thief! I look around and see the world, glimpses of people's lives, I hear the song of the wind, listen to the birds' chirp, I sit in the shadows and creepily eavesdrop on people's conversations, I steal their sorrow, pain and their joy, their anger, anguish, and their laughter. I steal emotions from the nation's and then I pour then over my guitar. My hands fly across those strings but I don't create anything. No one can. I just reach into music and pull from it the emotions I had heard all day. I pour myself and get an artist, someone capable of taking reality and turning it into art, of making the mundane extraordinary and bringing the surreal to the most ordinary levels. I pour these emotions, reality, these conversations, these stolen glimpses of humanity into my songs and let the music flow. This is why I am a thief. This is why I am turning myself in. All that money? The fame? They aren't mine. They never belonged to me. I didn't create that music I am famous for, I didn't invent it, I took what was flying in the wind and clothed it and presented it in a form humans could feel and understand."

Jason looked at him taken aback and the man smiled before continuing.

His hands were drumming a beat, as the two men walked.

"See this? This music? You gave me that. This is your confusion and curiosity and my joy at talking about something I love. This, humanity? People, this is the source of my inspiration and shouldn't those that they give you the ideas to get the credit? You know, once in school, we learned, that there's a certain frequency that animals can her but a human can't. If someone made a device that made this sound audible to humans, does that mean he made the sound or invented it? "

"Of course not, " Jason laughed.

"Well, isn't that exactly what I did? I simply took emotions and made a medium through which I can share them, make them audible to everyone. I didn't create that music, you people did. Your lives did. "

"But no one will ever throw you into prison for that! Isn't that a little extreme I mean? Prison for this? You are a celebrity!

You haven't done anything wrong legally or... Even... Morally! "

"Of course I haven't. Inspiration doesn't fall from the sky, like a rain shower, old man. You look around you, you let inspiration bleed into you, you tear it from conversations, you pull it from the tears of the crying widow, from the newborn child, that's where you get inspiration from. From the natural world and the concrete jungles, we debated hiding behind. I once read that a good artist seems everyone they know, but that's not right... I think... I.. That.. An artist? A true one? Immortalizes everyone they know. A writer puts into words every single person they have ever met. Every unique trait becomes a character loved or loathed by fans but remembered forever. When an artist paints, he may or may not have invented the colors, the sunset he paints wasn't created by him, just like the pictures taken by a photographer weren't created by him, they were captured, modified and personalized for humanity by them. No, their art? It lay in the way they saw the world, it lay in their eyes and their hands and mine? My art is in my voice. That's what art is and it's an honor to be able to wield this gift. To have the ability to take the world and turn it into a gift for humanity, to share your vision with millions. It is stealing, but it's like... Like being Robin Hood. We steal from those who have an abundance of emotion, from the unfathomable beauty of nature and share it with those who need it, crave it and can use it to build better lives."

"So... You mean.. To call yourself or say that you're an honorable thief?"

The incredulity of the tone spoke to the musician more than the words did and he stopped walking before he answered.

"Well, " dragging the word a bit, the man bit his life before replying, "I wouldn't know about being an honorable thief but I suppose we can ask the people around us what would they think of someone taking their lives and presenting it as art to the world. "

'Personally? I would hate it. My life's mine, making it a public property, anyone interpreting it the way they want, singing it or displaying it where they want, well, that would be so uncomfortable. Almost like an invasion of privacy."

"And you ask why I call myself a thief? "

Laughing, the musician slung an arm over the shoulder of his companion before saying, "Isn't that art in a nutshell? That's the point of being an artist, taking every single of our lives and the lives around it, showing how each is unique and yet in a paradoxical way all us follow animist, if not same paths. Which is why the word relatable thrives. Art that makes you feel rare and yet gives you a place to belong, is, in my opinion, what art is meant to be."

"Still, turning oneself in isn't that... Too much? "

"Well, not really. I simply wanted a story to tell with my next song. This... Adventure? Day? Whatever this was, it gave me a story to tell. The story of, as you put it, an honorable thief. Who try as he might, can't get rid of the guilt but he can't stop stealing either because for him, every day is a chapter in a book, every person, every event is a picture on a canvas and every sound is a note from a song. And now, my friend. I must go. Here, take these, tickets to my next concert, thanks for the beat!"

Jason stood and watched as the man walked away, a skip in his step and his fingers still drumming the tune of Jason's confusion. Artist indeed.

"Well, at least I can say, I honorable thief. What an oxymoron that man! "

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