Say Hi

by Shome Dasgupta

I have three guitars but I don’t know how to play any of them—or rather I can play three chords and I like to joke and say that I can play one chord for each guitar. I don’t have any musical talent—I can’t play any instruments, I can’t sing, and I lack the patience and tenacity to overcome these shortcomings. I can’t manipulate my fingers to the rhythms of the world, and my hypocrisy knows no bounds though—I still would love to learn how to play the guitar and sing yet I’m not doing anything about it.

My musical tastes run the gamut—including, hip hop, indie, country, radio, jazz, blues, electronic—any and all of it, whether I know a genre or style or not, I’m constantly in search of sound.

Sometimes I ask myself what medium of art affects me most emotionally, and I can never truly answer the question, whether it’s a song or a written work or a show or movie or a drawing or painting, but whenever I ask myself what was it that really hypnotized me into writing, I think that I can pin it down to three experiences—one band and two books.

I still very vividly remember reading Judy Blume’s Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing on a red recliner in our living room. I read it in one sitting, shifting my body left and right without taking my eyes of these pages.

Later on, one book and one band pretty much made its way to me around the same time. Sitting at a local coffee shop, I read Gabriel García Márquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold, one of the author’s shorter novels, a novella I guess, and it was my first book I read written by Márquez, and it didn’t take much longer, after I became immersed in all of his works, that he became one of my most influential writers.

Right around the same time, I fell in love with the music of a Louisiana band known as Neutral Milk Hotel, particular, the songs “Two-Headed Boy, Pt. Two” and “Oh Comely,” from the album In The Aeroplane Over the Sea. The rustic, the rural, the specters, and imagery—I was simply amazed by the visions created through words. I had always loved music, but now I fell in love with music.

Both Márquez and Neutral Milk hotel—the way they molded their own worlds through tongue and tip, and how every sensation they produced was every sensation I wanted—I was enamored with it all. 

These three points of a triangle, I would think, formed the foundations for wanting to write—for wanting to create passions out of words, the lyrical or otherwise, to generate a feeling, an emotion which mirrored the feeling, an emotion that I experienced through these forms of imaginations.

To communicate or to fail in communication—and to do whatever it takes through sound and meaning and words to exhibit these metaphorical journeys and relatable realities is what I think draws me to most forms of creativity. And the imagery of music certainly puts me in the trance I wanted to dive into whether I knew it or not.

The magical, the solitude, the attempts to reach out and communicate as a way to make some kind of sense or observation of what is going on around us whether grounded in reality or in a ghost world so intangible we lift our hand to clasp hands with nothing—this wonder and weaving, the unwound and the wounded, all through arrangements and sounds—I strive to recreate these spectrums in an attempt to say hi.

Then there are the hip hop groups such as Wu-Tang and OutKast where I really felt the force of using language and twisting and turning it, building words upon words to offer symbolic meaning however apparent or not and how abiding by the usual constructs of writing is not needed at all, but rather it can be necessary to break those boundaries to help me search for those emotions I wanted to emit. To be a magician—to show how the trick is performed to the audience while actually performing the trick, pulling words out of a hat when all the words are already there before you—this was all so very entrancing and drew me closer and closer to the love of writing.

And Elliott Smith, too—who also exemplified for me the many ways to create a feeling I was most attracted to through lyrical storytelling. Sometimes it’s not the actual meaning of the word that pulls me in but rather it’s the connotative energy which forms some kind of shield around me and wanting to never leave this globe of colorful sensations which have become embedded in my mind.

Sometimes I don’t want to understand the meaning of a song—I just want to let the song create a meaning for me. This sentiment goes for not only music, but for literature, paintings, movies and all of the mediums of creativity and imagination and magic.

I’m not quite sure if any of this is actually apparent in my own writing—I don’t know if I have reached those sentiments but I don’t know if I ever want to arrive at those emotional destinations because it’s the search for them that I love most—to just be an echo of another ghost’s dream.

<strong>Shome Dasgupta</strong>
Shome Dasgupta

Shome Dasgupta is the author of nine books, including The Seagull And The Urn (HarperCollins India), Spectacles (Word West Press), Tentacles Numbing (Thirty West Publishing House, forthcoming), Cirrus Stratus (Spuyten Duyvil, forthcoming), and a poetry collection,  Iron Oxide (Assure Press). His fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction have appeared in McSweeney’s Internet TendencyHobartNew Orleans ReviewAmerican Book Review, New Delta ReviewNecessary FictionX-R-A-Y, Magma Poetry, and elsewhere. He is the series editor of the Wigleaf Top 50. He lives in Lafayette, LA and can be found at and @laughingyeti.