Guest Post - Inspiration Chaos by Sumana Khan, author of ENCOUNTERS - SOMEONE IS ALWAYS WAITING

In my post on inspiration for Encounters (you can read it here), I touched upon the birth of each story. In this post, once again I’ve been asked to give my take on my inspiration for Encounters. So I thought I’ll focus on the sub-title – Someone’s Always Waiting.

This is going to be a nerdy post. I’m sure all of you have heard of Chaos Theory.  For the uninitiated, let’s start off with simple, predictable systems around us. For example, water boils at 100 deg Celsius. Irrespective of the initial temperature of the water – whether it was ice cold, at room temperature or  lukewarm – it reaches boiling point at 100 deg Celsius. That’s a predictable system. If you plot a graph of temperature of the water (y-axis) against time taken to reach boiling point (x-axis), you’ll probably see a neat slanting line, indicating that temperature increases linearly as time spent on the heat increases. This is an observable phenomenon all over the world. It is linear, predictable, and there is no randomness. In general Newtonian physics that is so ingrained in our education and everyday observation largely deals with such predictable systems. Thus, it is termed as deterministic – you are able to determine results based on past conditions. Or, given the present condition, you can deduce the past condition. You know that if you throw something out of the window, it will only go downwards. You can fairly guess how much force you have to exert to move the sofa. You can fairly predict the time you’ll take to get to a place, based on traffic conditions and how fast you can drive. All this gives us a sense of security. A false sense of power over our environment.

 However there are systems which are seemingly unpredictable. This is because the outcome of the system is extremely sensitive to the minutest parameters of its initial state. Even minute changes in the initial state of the system can cause disproportionately large results. For example, weather is a dynamic system. Unlike the boiling water, there is no saying two similar cloud patters will have the same results. Cricket. There’s no saying what’s going to happen in the next ball, even if you know the pitch, the swing in the ball, the stance of the batsman. Golf. Same story. Stock market. Same. So all these are nonlinear, dynamic systems. The batsman will not score proportionately increasing runs the longer he stands at the wicket – 2 runs in over 1, 4 in over 2 and so on. The chaos theory pertains to such systems. Mind you, it is not that these events are random – they only appear that way. Underneath all that randomness, they are still governed by laws of physics. It’s just that we are not advanced enough to take into account the million initial states, work out the permutations and combinations and predict accurately. This theory was first proposed by a meteorologist, Edward Lorenz. In 1972, He presented a lecture poetically titled as, “Predictability: Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” (You can read it here). Thus, the notion of Butterfly Effect took shape.

I believe our lives are ruled by Chaos Theory. We are constantly facing options, sometimes binary, sometimes too many. Every time we make a choice, our lives are altered minutely. It’s like a massive maze – there are seemingly many paths to the exit.  Sometimes, the chaos is so overwhelming – there is too much noise, too much movement and we feel everything is beyond our control – bad relationships at home, at work, no results and so on. And suddenly, everything quietens up. Everything clicks as if a jigsaw puzzle has been rearranged. Everything makes sense. When we reflect on these episodes, we’ll be able to pinpoint a person, or a place, or a choice we made that set off changes in the right direction. Indeed, a change can also take place simply because one read a story floating on the internet, or heard a moving song. Which makes us question – is anything really random? Perhaps we were meant to meet every single person who came into our life – from close relationships to fleeting acquaintances. Some are pleasant, some unpleasant. But at some point, there is a sense of “it was meant to be.”

It is a notion that I believe strongly in. Consequently, how much ever “useless” or lonely one may feel, I do think there’s always a circuit waiting to be connected – where you find yourself at the doorstep of someone’s life, and knowingly or unknowingly your presence makes it better for them.  At the core of my stories, this is what I set out to “inspiration”! 

Someone's Always Waiting
Sumana Khan

ENCOUNTERS is a potpourri of five sumptuous stories involving a motley crew of protagonists. Skating along the borders of fantasy and paranormal themes, the stories track incredible and poignant journeys of self-discovery, tracing the cathartic aftermath of fleeting encounters.


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Sumana was born and raised in Bengaluru, Karnataka, where she went on to graduate with a BSc in Electronics, much to the surprise of her teachers, and relief of her parents. In what can only be described as a quirk of fate, she ended up as an IT consultant - a role she essayed for more than a decade. She then moved to the UK where she quit her job and pursued academic and literary interests. The result of this pursuit has been two Masters, one published book, quite a few manuscript drafts, and above all, being stone-broke perpetually.

She currently lives in the UK with her husband and several books.  

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