Meetup 149: Duality in the Five Elements of Nature


In last week’s session, there were three themes to our writing. (Yeah, just to make it a little complicated.)

  1. The Five Elements
  2. Love
  3. Memoir

The first ‘peg’ on which our piece had to stand on was that it had to be closely linked to one of the five elements of nature. For reference, they are:

  • Fire
  • Water
  • Earth
  • Air
  • Sky (or emptiness, vacuum, Nirvana)

The second peg it had to stand on was that it should be a love story. It doesn’t have to be a ‘romantic’ love story, but it should be about love. And the third peg is that it should be a memoir: meaning that the character in your scene should be recounting a memory, new or old. This could be borrowed straight out of your real life, purely made up, or any combination of the two.

The Concept of Duality


There is duality inherent to each of the five elements mentioned above. Each element has benevolent, life-giving, nurturing forms, and also destructive forms.

For instance:

  • Water in the form of rain gives life. As flood and storm it takes life.
  • Fire is life-giving when harnessed. When out of control it’s the very symbol of destruction.
  • Earth gives rise to crops and trees. It also quakes and swallows.
  • We breathe air to live. In the shape of a tornado, it sweeps away everything in its path.
  • Emptiness in the form of loneliness and depression could be debilitating. Whereas in the form of Nirvana it is the highest spiritual state one can reach.

Exercise 1

In this exercise, we each chose an element, and wrote a happy memory of love, based around the ‘life-giving’ form of the chosen element. The idea is to use your element’s ‘positive’ form as a symbol or metaphor for your happy love memory.

Exercise 2

In this exercise, we flipped the burger and wrote a sad memory of love, based around the ‘destructive’ form of the chosen element. Once again, the idea is to use your element’s ‘negative’ form as a symbol of your sad love memory.

A small note about the Objective Correlative

This session was a bit of a round-about way to get to what T. S. Eliot called The Objective Correlative. It can sometimes get confusing, but it’s basically how well a writer uses inanimate objects in his scene to create mood and emotion. In this case, the inanimate objects are the elements, and by tying the ‘positive’ forms to ‘happy’ and the ‘negative’ forms to ‘sad’, we’re attempting to correlate the object to the mood of the tale.

If that explanation is too simplistic for you, here it is in T. S. Eliot’s own words:

The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an “objective correlative”; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked.

If you find these prompts interesting, go ahead and put something down into the comments section. This part of the blog is closely watched by Write Club members, so someone or the other will drop by and give feedback. Worst-case, I will respond for sure. So get cracking!

Images Courtesy: 1, 2

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  1. Here is my piece on elements – all 4 Sharath

    As I open my eyes to this new world, I see her. I see her in a sea of faces,
    Her face shining like a fiery beacon amidst the ocean of eyes, nose and lips.
    She comes close, her breath against mine is fresh and sweet like the air that gives me life.
    She holds me tight and we enter water together, all my fears of death by drowning are laid to rest.

    Later, lying on the ground, she lies next to me, and as she looks into my eyes, earth stands still,
    A moment stretched unto eternity,

    She is supreme, she is magical, she holds sway over the all elements,
    And I am supposed to call her Maa.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Here’s my first post in your blog.

    As we both sat in our ship that was racing towards the other end, she stares at the running water and looks in my eyes and says “You are the best thing that happened in my life!”. I just hugged her and said “It’s true dear, no force can separate us apart”. Then comes a sudden thud, probably the fire broke out in the engine of the ship from the downstairs and everyone was going helter-skelter to save their lives. I too was prepared to get out of this danger. More importantly, I was ready to throw my life to save the love of my life. Then comes a relief, the captain of the ship says, “It’s all right folks, everything is fixed”. With a huge sigh of relief, we again sat down on our cosy chairs staring at the vast, never ending blue sky and getting our hair fly in the wind. We happily reached the other end of the shore….

    With a sudden jolt, I woke from my dream. I tried to remember what had happened during that evening. All I remember was we both reached the shore and took a taxi on our way to the hotel. And, and.. I just woke up in hospital with wounds on my head and my whole body was paining and I thought I am going to die. Then I remember, where is my love ?, is she safe ?. The doctor comes to me and says, “I am sorry, we couldn’t able to save your fiance, she suffered a severe head injury and died”. I was totally broke at the very moment and cursed all the gods in the world for putting me in such a misery. Why I am getting reminded of this memory often ?, What have I done to lead a life like this ?.

    Later in few months, I received a phone call from a stranger and in a rush, the voice from the other end in a husky voice says “Your fiance has planned for your murder” and the call got cut. I was spellbound at the information I received. What was she ?, A cold blooded murderer ? or a setup agent from some dreaded killers ?. I have to find out who was this person that just called and how does he knows my fiance… (it continues..!!!)

    I hope you liked this little plot of mine, that covers both of the 5 elements in the first part and a memory of a person that has a sad love story too. Kindly let me know your feedback.



    • Hi Pradeep,

      Thank you for sharing your piece. I especially liked the way you weaved both the ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ sides of your element into the story so far. I would love to read what happens later, though, because you’ve stopped at a quite intriguing moment. Do you have plans of finishing it?

      One point of feedback I would give is that your grammar is a little wobbly at places. For example, ‘couldn’t able to’ is wrong usage. You either say ‘couldn’t’ or ‘wasn’t able to’.

      Apart from such little things, I liked how the flow of the story. You must finish it 🙂


      • pradeepthyagaraja says:

        Hi Sharath,
        Thanks for your valuable feedback, it means a lot to me. Sorry for stopping at the very intriguing moment!!.

        Yes, I am planning to complete this as a short story, provided my schedule allows me to do that. I am trying to take this story to a new level of a psychological thriller like ‘The Accident’ of Ismail Kadare, my favorite Albanian author :).

        Apart from my thinking capabilities, my biggest worry is my grammar. I agree that I have a long mile to improve in correcting my grammatical mistakes.


      • I think grammar is probably the easiest thing to fix in someone’s writing, Pradeep, as long as you accept that it needs to be fixed. So I think you’ve gotten past the first step. Now it’s just a matter of time getting a grammar book and working through some of the composition exercises. It will fix your grammar mistakes in a month or two, if you practice – say – three times a week.

        Wren and Martin Grammar and Composition is an excellent book for this. I keep going back to it to refresh my own grammar.

        Let me know if you need any help 🙂


  3. Hi, could not make it to the meetup last week. Posting my story here. 🙂

    As she lay scared in the unknown cave, she could feel the darkness. This darkness was a part of this cave that had not seen light, ever. There was emptiness here, loneliness, a vacuum that nobody had ever filled with laughter or cries.
    As she tried to sleep until the danger passed, only thing she could see was the flashes of happy life she was living with her family until this “danger” eclipsed their life.

    She was playing with her cubs, under the tree shade, a long time till she’ll have to go, hunt and get them something to eat. The cool earth was making her tired and sleepy. Her cubs frolicking in the dirt, challenging each other and disturbing her sleep to get the difficult matters of a twig or some leftover food from last night resolved. She never mind though. She loved her children. She would happily dig her claws into the soft dirt and go back to sleep after nuzzling them all in turn. After a long time, the cubs got tired and slept too.
    They all woke up to a beautiful evening, the sky various shades of red and orange near the horizon. No clouds. The wind caressed their faces when she led her kids to the river bank. The water was cold, pure. She could see her reflection in the water and thought about her kid’s dad. He had always appreciated her after a relaxed sleep. But she had not seen him in a very long time. He left one day and never came back.
    She was still waiting. What brought her out of her thoughts, was the loud noise, earth-shaking movement and smell of smoke in the distance. She was so puzzled to realize what was actually happening. She had heard stories from her fellow animals in the jungle about humans taking over their territory. Could this be something similar?
    If it was, she had to save her children. She nudged them to move and go back towards home. It was difficult to explain to them as she herself was not very sure. They were all scared as well as amazed by the giant thundering yellow things coming towards them.
    With each movement of that giant beast, earth shook and so did her confidence. She had to try anyways. They all ran. The wind no longer seemed soothing. It was slowing them down and taking them nearer to the bulldozers coming their way. She took them to their cave and asked them not to come out. She waited for 4 days until hunger made it difficult for her to stay in. Her kids were hungry. She had to go hunt.
    She went out but there was no wilderness. There were no trees. All she could see were stumps of those huge, spreading trees under which she had spent countless peaceful days with her kids and their dad. She started moving. The nothing to shelter her from the hunters, she had to be more careful. She reached the lake she had seen just four days back but it was not the same place. The water was so dirty she could not dare drink from it. She could not understand that the floating filthy looking things on the water surface were food wrappers the invaders had strewn all over the place. With a heavy heart she moved ahead. There was not a single animal to be seen. So, she reached the human camp and was shocked to see her friends tied up in cages and some roasting over the fire. There were huge humans garrulously laughing and eating.
    She had the heart to take each one of them and shred to pieces but with a empty stomach, weak body and so many of them she took the wiser path.
    She was not lucky though. As she started moving away to look for a loner human she could use as food, one of the men saw her. He alerted others. They picked up their guns and shot. She missed the first shot but the noise made her crazy. She ran with all her strength. And that is when she saw this cave as an escape and came in.

    It had been another week she had to stay in the dark cave until the worry about her kids and hunger drove her out. This time it was quite, an eerie silence all over the place, she called home. She went to the place where she had left her cubs. She was not surprised to find it empty. Her heart was crushed. Only thing that made her move was the hope of finding her children alive. As she walked, the smell of meat took her to another human camp. She sneaked in. Thankfully no humans around, she tried looking in the tents for something to eat. Her eyes fell on a huge cloth piece which had her likeness painted on it. Even though she could not read, she could not help but laugh at the irony because written under the picture was “Save the tigers”.


    • Thanks for sharing this, Neha. And don’t you know the Write Club rule? You never apologize for your piece being too long.

      I liked the concept of this scene, and there are a few sentences in there drip with good, original images. I would run through it once again as an editor, and ruthlessly cut out much of the extraneous, loose stuff that robs the scene of immediacy. I think if you cut this down to perhaps 70% if its current size, I think it will be a much better scene. What you cut off and what you don’t, I will leave it to you. But if you’d like me to look at the second draft, feel free to email me. We can have a longer conversation over email that won’t bore all the others 🙂


  4. Sorry, a little long 😛


  5. pradeepthyagaraja says:

    Hi Sharath,

    Thanks for the much needed response. As promised, I am writing the 2nd part of my story. Please bear with me, since, it will be a bit long. I am trying to give a climax in this part.

    First Part Ended with this para:
    Later in few months, I received a phone call from a stranger and in a rush, the voice from the other end in a husky voice says “Your fiance has planned for your murder” and the call got cut. I was spellbound at the information I received. What was she ?, A cold blooded murderer ? or a setup agent from some dreaded killers ?. I have to find out who was this person that just called and how does he knows my fiance… (it continues..!!!)

    2ND Part:
    (In 2nd part, I thought of actually having the names for my characters. The Lover boy character name is Amit. The deceased girlfriend of Amit is Roshni.)

    So, Amit decides to find out who was the person that just called him. He tries to remember everyone that he has met in past 6 months to 1 year. He scans all through his mailbox to see whether had he sent mail to any other person apart from his regular contacts. He stuck on one particular mail, in which, he had gone for a business trip to a foreign country. He had all his hotel booking details, flight ticket details for 2 persons. So he decides to take a trip to those places and find out the real reason behind his assassination.

    When he arrives in that place, he gets this deja vu feeling. He booked the same hotel that his agent has booked in his previous trip. He persuades the hotel receptionist to give him the same room. He enters his room with a strange feeling. He tries to recollect some of the events that might give him some clue, but to his dismay, he just couldn’t connect the dots. He was just lying down on the sofa thinking what to do. Then suddenly, his room phone starts to ring and he goes to pick up the phone. It was a call from the reception. “Hello is this Amit ?”, Amit replied “Yes”. The receptionist said “Sir, it seems that you’ve stayed here before an year back. There is one friend of you that left a package with us, saying, please pass this package to this person by tracing his address. If you can come and recognize the package, we can give it you at this very moment”. Amit was somewhat not able to believe this, still he managed to go and collect the package.

    As he opened the package, he got only a handful of papers and a few currency bills, with a note that has a phone number. Without wasting a minute, he called that number with a hope of knowing something. A person picked up the phone and answered “hello”. That’s it. Its him. Amit recognized the voice in that moment. He talks for a while asking many questions. Amit had got what he was hoping for. He cut the call and began to connect all the dots.

    “I just couldn’t believe my boss wanted to kill me?, He knows that, I am the only person that has all the secrets of this high profile defense project. He also knew that, I was the one who opposed this project from being implemented. I wanted this project to be dusted, because, this project would cause more damage than benefits.” “All I remember was, I came here a year ago for this project discussions and I felt very sick during that week. I was hospitalized. After getting discharged, I was not the same person that I was before. I felt nauseous during my work. I remember a phone call conversation with my boss, asking me to kill this particular person as he is opposing the project implementation. “What he told me on that day. Rohit, you have to kill that person called Amit”. I arranged for a murderer during that week all by myself talking to a local criminal. “What the heck… Did I planned to kill myself ??.”

    (Imagination left to the readers. Was he induced with high dosage of sedatives?? or Some people forcefully done a surgery on Amit’s brain to have an alternate memory ??)



  6. Great Blog! You are an inspiring author! I just posted a Haiku today on my blog and referenced your blog and picture-found pic on google images and it linked to your blog! I’m glad it did! Light and Love, Shona


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