Saturday, November 19, 2011

Write whatever is left

Last week, I found myself in a conference room with an elegant lady sitting across the table asking me “Why do you want to write?” That question caught me off guard and I did what I do best – gape with a patented awkward look. Then I mumbled trying really hard to make sense in my fluent Nonsense. Obviously, she didn’t buy them. Neither did I.

But now that I have ample time to improvise on my answer, I’ll sit back and type what I believe are the reasons why I want to write. For a start, I’m neither mundane nor skillful. And this reality is attested by my absolute disregard towards learning something as basic as replacing empty cooking gas cylinder with a filled one. It goes without saying that I’m darn lazy. But when it comes to writing, I guess I’m a different person. I can write. No matter how rubbish my thoughts are, I can truly write.

A: "I want to be a writer."

B: "You mean you want to die of hunger?"

A: "Nope. I want to be a writer."

People usually wait to break in. Like actors have their break with a certain movie. Or an IT professional with a remarkable project. But a majority of us often forget that we had our first break with education. We were lucky enough to grow up as literates. And the ugly fact that there are still billions who don’t receive the kind of exposure to knowledge the way we did is preposterous. No matter how big a Pink Floyd fan one is, s/he can’t disagree that that cult song couldn’t have been penned had the band members been illiterates.

Having said that, not everyone can write. Everyone has a story, yes. But not everyone can write, no. There is a widespread misconception among literates that they are always write. In simpler words, some of the brilliantest writers who lived never had the fortune to write. There are zillions of thoughts enveloped in an idea but very few are able to draw them down to alphabets and let it flow on a page or screen. Besides, it’s rather tough to find an excellent writer as they are mostly lost in thoughts. On the other hand, some of the greatest writers will remain so as long as we don't get to read their books.

I want to be a writer too but while I’m at it, I wish to get paid. Though I don’t harbor Indian middle class’ (read: parents’) ambition of getting married and settled, I don’t desire to be broke either. You know the awkward moment when you and the ATM screen engage in a staring contest and you always end up blinking first. Yeah, that.

My love for writing is conceptualized in a simple philosourphy – don't bother whether you're wrong or right, simply write whatever is left. In a not-so-ideal world, a writer is the pauper who writes on his own, of his own, but nothing to own. Well, that may be the harsh reality but a writer is not someone who writes but someone who gets paid for doing so.

For instance, have a look at Twitter. Some of the brightest thoughts disguised as jokes are relegated from public memory in the name of tweets. These lines get circulated far and wide but eventually they don’t carry the name of the person who wrote them in the first place. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with it as plagiarism and attribution don’t sleep with each other on Internet. In any case, pro bono tweeting is rubbish for charity. And to help this illation, there are remnants of a failed writer in every tweep.

Fair enough.

Coming back to the HR’s question, I thought I’ll be able to express why I want to write in this blog piece but I digressed and got carried away as usual. Perchance I need to abandon one-linerism and go back to poetry. Back to a boundaryless world where the poet and his poems are meant for each other. He writes them. They read him. Or maybe I just need to STFU and then write a book on how.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lost and found... in childhood

No matter how tough we think we are, we aren’t as tough as our childhood memories. There is something about them that grows on us. And then we reach that point in our life where it's impossible to go back. And then we die. And then they return to the womb of nature.

Childhood memories are untouchable. I mean, in a good way, not in the Indian casteist context. Of course, you may not remember every single detail of what happened thousands of days ago but still. Your childhood memories will never forget you. If you think about it, memories are what we are left with at the end of the day. Or for that matter, at the end of our existence. And what can possibly beat the era when we had no idea what we are getting ourselves into. Everything little incident was a surprise and continued to be so.

My childhood lacked imagination as I never had a friend like Hobbes. It wasn’t epic. The primary reason being that I can recollect quite vividly most parts of it so the veneer of mystique remains missing in my case. Though there were folks from those days who threw permanent color on my psyche when we passed each other. Such people somehow fail to perish. They just linger on in the nous triggering your nostalgia button every now and then.

One such personality was my grandma. I miss her as she was the only one I knew who loved me expecting absolutely nothing in return. She was a wise angel who weaved and narrated ceaseless yet brilliant stories. She used to tell us, “At any give time, you can be a lot better human being.” At that age, we had vague understanding of what she was trying to convey but those words, along with myriads other words, remain etched in my Tulu mind.

My cousin was another such person who made a huge impact. He was a free spirit – someone who won’t lay manacled to societal (dis)order, especially bunt community’s endogamic mores. He dropped out of medical college. I still wonder why he did that. After all, he was the one who told me, “A doctor saves life. It’s a rare gift.” I too wanted to become a doctor when I grow up but that phase didn’t last long. All things said and not done, he passed away at the age of 29. Unfulfilled potential, withstanding.

We basically miss the childhood we never had. Exaggeration is a pain reliever against our present state of affairs. The shy child in us is what makes us act all grown up. Sometimes, there is not only a child but an entire kindergarten in each one of us. Funny how our species is programmed to grow! By all accounts, one stops growing the moment one avoids being childish and begins to perceive others as childish.

I reminisce all the stupid things I committed when I was very young and how little I’ve changed since then. I guess it’s my karma to be an aching two-legged creature who failed to become a superhero despite being bitten by spider on numerous occasions. Perhaps selecting a proper childhood hero makes a hell lot of difference. Hence I blame Mowgli for whatever I am today.

I blame God too for not existing nor pretending to listen to my childhood prayers. I’m convinced that if at all there is a God, he'd be a lot like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. Only a bit more childish and with severe OCD.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Diwali is Jack's utter lack of darkness but noise

The smoke has settled. The noise is dead too. By this, I mean nobody is bursting firecrackers nor feeling jubilant about not getting burned in the process. All in all, Diwali is no more. At least for now. Just two nights ago, I wished folks in my neighborhood took a break and while they were at it, donated their ammunition of firecrackers to Army or something.
Yeah, I must be sounding like a party pooper here with an anti-festival stand but that’s only half of the truth. What I am versus are these morons who sadly belong to the very same species I come from. Now that’s not to surmise that I’m wise et al but considering the present situation, I won’t give into invisible peer pressure and create unnecessary din.
Early Stone Age men who discovered fire must have been Hindus. Perhaps that could have explained our infatuation with firecrackers. Or maybe not. Anyway, show me one person who enjoys the noise these firecrackers produce. Just one person. You can’t, can you? Well, those who fired crackers are the only ones who derive sadistic pleasure from them while the bystanders’ eardrums wish the commotion end as quickly as possible. This is the other half of the truth I was referring to earlier. The government has already levied a noise curfew but not everyone adheres to it and to top that, the power-that-be hardly reacts to such disobedience.
You see, it’s quite interesting to note that Diwali is a festival of lights, not chemicals. I’m pretty sure no one exploded loud irritating bangers when Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya crooning ♫ ♪I’m coming Ommmmmmmm♫ ♪ a la Ozzy Osbourne! But what we witness today is a chaotic aberration of how things should have been but are somehow distorted by overt commercialization of an event. Correct me if I’m wrong but Diwali should be more of diyas, sweets, lanterns, rangolis, social gatherings and noiseless-firecrackers-bursting-in-the-sky, if you will. But that obviously ain’t the case.
Though it’s not specifically a Hindu festival, so to speak, considering the fact that Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs celebrate it too according to their assorted legends, the diyas are nonetheless missing in numbers in urban India. Diwali has become an Indian festival celebrated with made-in-China lanterns. Blame it on globalization. Of course, everyone have their own way of celebrating as well as celeberating and one can’t superimpose their beliefs on others. End of argument.
I love Diwali too as millions out there do. Especially when I’m not wondering how Sri Lankans feel about this hyped festival of ours. My mind may not comply with religious byproducts but my tongue holds nothing against delicious festive food. I have a soft corner in my mouth for sweets. My decaying sweet teeth can vouch for that! But you get sick of sweets after a while. This is how it works – you crave Diwali sweets; you devour 'em; you get bored; you run out of 'me; and then you miss 'em. Tada. Diwali has ended. You know the drill.
I also like to see my house spick and span though (unlike my amma) I resent the painstaking procedure called cleaning. Just to put things into better perspective, the reason why I hate firecrackers so much is I can’t possibly make more noise than they do. And for the record, in an internet-less parallel universe, each one of us must be busy participating in criminal activities like bursting firecrackers be it Diwali or not.