Whenever I think of My Ultimate goal in life, Things that I really REALLY want, I think of a Penthouse(facing the east) and a never ending holiday in Italy. And these are my encounters with Life on the way there!
Whenever I sit to Write WRITE, I am always, in my brain compelled to come up with something deep. Something that will make sense only to the smart-asses and others who don't understand will marvel, open-mouth-in-awe of my writing style. That hasn't happened yet but what it brings me to is a very important question. Why literature is considered the domain of the 'Intellectual'? Why isn't a poem by, say Langston Hughes comparable to a song by John Legend and why can't I critically analyse both, together? This is a debate that I am dealing with. I'll explain why it is a debate in the first place.
I always, ALWAYS want to write something highly intelligent. Not because I want to sound smart. But because I want to appearsmart in front of 'certainintellectual' people. The fact that I write something that is not just appreciated but deliberated upon is my dream. But till that time, why can't I reconcile with the fact that it is OK to write stuff that doesn't sound intelligent or smart. It is wrong for me to use the word 'Reconcile'. Simply because these are the things that make me who I am, in this present moment. So, if I don't respect the present ME, who else will?
Now I am realizing that it is completely alright if I choose to make my writing sound like I am a student in college. Of course it is alright! And also, it is completely okay if I write about stuff I am pre-occupied with. Like College and Friends, and FUTURE and Mr. Awesome.
Skin, is wet
to be true.
on my face
How is it
When I was young, I desperately wanted to change things. The only way to do that was through getting into mainstream politics. I always thought that people who aren't directly involved with the political process were passive and they didn't really care. To me, it seemed that you have to devote all aspects of your life to it. I remember thinking to myself that I will not have a romantic liaison or fun with my friends (and more, extremely stupid things) when I become a politician.
Then, the phase of utter hopelessness set in. I completely gave up on any ideas of changing the system. I saw how people have tried and failed, miserably. I noticed people's reactions and decided that I, alone cannot change anything. This was the complete opposite of what I used to think before, in my years of extreme naivety. But during this phase, I became Apolitical. I thought it was dirty. I generalized everyone to being lazy, greedy and passive.
Yesterday something very profound struck me. Something that would help me attain that balance which I have been wanting for a long time. I know myself, I cannot remain unaffected. I react. To everything and anything. I think. being passive is not an option for me. But I also know that my vision is clouded. I am not very practical. I am more emotional than necessary. So, I know I will not make a very good politician.
So what can I do? I can take a stand. I can think rationally about it. I can use whatever tools I have, to speak up for things I believe in. Everyone has the drawing room discussions about things. I can let people close to me know where my loyalties lie. I know it won't change things but there is always a probability that I can be the change I believe in, right?
I've been told, a lot of times, that I cannot take criticism. And that I get defensive and loud if I told that I am wrong. Most of the times, my response to these allegations/accusations/truths is an unintelligible "Yeah, right". I scoff and walk off. (Oo, that rhymes!). But yesterday I realized that this habit of mine could prevent me from growing as a writer. And more importantly, growing into a better person.
I am deeply hypocritical. When did I realize this? Yesterday itself. Yes, yesterday was a big day for revelations. So, I saw an example of two people, who were so blind sighted by their own thoughts that it made me wonder whether one day, I could end up like that? It’s not just the fear of being wrong, there was more a fear of losing people who want the best for me and I don't give them a chance because of my stubbornness.
I know what happens to people when they don't stop to consider their actions. Their loved ones, despite all the love that they have, give up. Some might say that if you love someone, you won’t stop wishing for their betterment. But at this stage, this becomes more like a hopeless prayer then a verbal appeal. I have done this too, given up on people I love. I used to do it in excess. I've toned it down now.I thought to myself, and realized that, everyone is allowed to make mistakes.
My form of criticism was extreme. Now, the real trouble came in. And thank God, I've realized it. I only ask for people's opinion on things I know I've done right. Be it my writing or my actions. But I should now learn to ask on things that, I know will make me work harder. It might mean a possible re-write or an apology or a complete alter in life's habits. But if it’s for the better, why not?
Yesterday, Amir Ajmal Kasab was given the death sentence by the Mumbai High Court. Everybody who faced the nightmare of 26/11 Bombay Attacks , rejoiced. But there were some people, who were against the sentence. According to them, Capital Punishment is a disgrace to a democracy. But is IT? Or is the policy 'death for death' justified?
I was always against death penalties. I had read up on every page at the Amnesty International website about the evils of Capital Punishment. I had an opinion when it came to such punishments.But when it came to Bombay, why did my opinion change? And why is it, that now I think that it is a just punishment?
How can one man, who kills so many innocent people, in cold blood, be allowed to live?
How can one man, who has destroyed so many families, most of them poor, be allowed to live?
How can one man, whose plans resulted in a child losing his parents and scarring him forever, be allowed to live?
Why should we feed him, when his guns cost the livelihoods of so many?
Why should he be allowed to live?
He made me question Humanity.
Why should he be allowed to live?
He made me doubt my fellow beings.
Why should he be allowed to live?
He disgraced an entire section of people.
Why, on earth, should he be allowed to live?
Is there a need for more?
And no, this isn't my College-Perpetual-Rebel-Anger talking. I am completely rational when I say this. There is so much more that I want to write but as I see, there isn't much I can do.
Whenever I though of killings based on identity, I always imagined myself safe. Maybe it was because I belong to the majority community in my country. The only time I was actually scared of being killed because of being different was, when I was in Bombay and the MNS was attacking the North Indians. I was not scared for myself, not at all. I went to a posh school of my city and the only thing that it was vulnerable to was the fact that it was Christian. But it wasn’t a religious conflict during that time. It was more regional. I was scared for my father. We still had our ‘DL’ number plate and I don’t know how it was possible, but my father did look like north Indian. The project my father was on during that time involved people from all over the country, so there were South, East, North and West Indians there. Hence, everyone came to Bombay with their regional number plate. I don’t remember it clearly, but I remember telling my dad not to take his car. I thought that if the car they took (my father and his friends car pooled) a car with a Maharashtra number plate, they would somehow be safer. I remember him, laughing and not taking me seriously. He said those people only had the balls to attack people who were defenseless. That meant poor people. In any case, he said, if death has to come, there is nothing we can do to evade it. That time, to me, it seemed foolish.
But maybe, that is the true nature of death. When the 26/7 flood happened, I was at home, safe and sound and all the water around the building was a source of amusement for me. I kept yelling, “Global Warming” at the top of my voice. The only damage we faced was that water seeped in the car and we had to repair it. We got a week’s worth of holidays from school that time. Many people I knew were stranded on the roads during that time. Yet, the tragedy seemed so far away from me that I didn’t it could affect me directly. The deaths during that tragedy, to me seemed unimportant. It’s sad but true.
Then the 26/11 happened and then I realized, death does really come unannounced and you cannot evade it. So many people died: rich, poor, a common man to policemen. It did not spare anyone. Who would have even thought that death would come in the form of young men with explosives, to cause enough casualties that would scar them, and others for a lifetime? Because when you are young, you can’t escape conscience. My memory of 26/11 is not the Taj burning. It is of the Chabad House in Colaba.
I’ve read a lot about death and loss. Yet, after a short period of numbness, I am unable to feel the real magnitude of the situation. That is what happened during these times, in different proportions too. It is my inability to relate to things that prevents me to grasp it properly. Before, I thought, that if a writer was good enough, I would get it. But, as it turns out, that is not the case. Also, I think I have this sick fantasy, to see loss first hand. Now, it struck me, that maybe I won’t be strong enough to hold myself, they way I do, in my imagination. Who knows. But as I see it now, maybe I don’t want to know in the first place.
What is a writer's paradise? Is it a place with a gorgeous landscape, beautiful enough to distract, and then inspirational at the same time? I know some people who can write just anywhere. Then, there are others like me, who look for that perfect moment, when the ideas are in order; when you have the rough draft ready beside you. Earlier, I used to pride myself in conjuring up pieces in mid air. Now, I need time and framework and structure! Man, that is hard work!
One might think that compared to earlier, inhibited, raw way of writing, the new version is not really 'You'. I do think so. When I have to arrange things and put them in order, unlike penning down the random ramblings in my mind, I find that I get a little detached from my work. Maybe it is just a mind-block that forbids me to take responsibility. Yet, I have noticed that I am more possessive of my journals than of the essays or poems I write to get marks. No doubt, the latter are better written, with grammar et al but it is the former that is, in a weird way, a part of my body.
The problem I have with structured essays is that it makes me choose. And I hate to choose. It's like I have to pick from your children, which one is better, which one is worthy of attracting the reader's eye and sometimes, marks. My understanding is that every thought of my brain is my own. Sure, there is the important and the unimportant. But they are all mine. Hence, if someone is telling me, 'Was that really required', I am compelled to think over my own aptitude.
Last night, I was doing an assignment. I had to critically analyse a short story. I was not bothered about the assignment, till it came to choosing the story of my choice. I chose Jhumpa Lahiri's 'A Temporary Matter' from her first collection called 'The Interpreter of Maladies'. Now, this story is a beautifully written work. The trouble began when I had to dissect it: word by word, sentence by sentence, phrase by phrase. I felt, call me stupid, like I was betraying her. I was betraying Jhumpa Lahiri. I realised then and then it hit me, that I would be doing this for the rest of my life! Or maybe it was Jhumpa. I somehow connect with her work like no one else's. I can read it any number of times and still wonder at the beauty of her writing. I cannot explain it. Maybe I feel with her characters' sense of alienation. They somehow have this hazy sense of belonging. Maybe I love the way she writes, so sensuous and clear. Maybe its the way she chooses to be a neutral spectator, putting no one at fault. Whatever it was, I hated looking for sentences that stood out more than others or those that supported my point of view.
I always thought that when a writer writes a piece, they want it to be considered as a whole and not butchered into bits and pieces. And also, I thought, No one writes to be judged on the quality of their thoughts. Then why? Why do we in class, 'critically examine' structure and form and language and style and all-the-bull-crap? I love Mill on the Floss. I think its a genius of a novel. Yet, there are hordes of critics, just waiting to pounce on it and dissect it like a frog in the bio-lab. And I am following the suit.
I wonder, after all this, will I ever look at a piece of work and marvel at its beauty, without being tempted to point out its flaws? I have a feeling, I am never going to be a great critic. Damn!
I am tired of my brain, it feels heavy; no amount of asprin will help.
I need a break from all the breaks; these breaks never help either.
How long before I fit in?
How long before I am comfortable being in my own skin?"
I wrote this poem in the dead of the night and I didn't have any paper to write on. Again, letting go of my previously held notion that technology kills creativity. I believe, as for now atleast, that a poem as a product appears as a result of your thoughts. So whenever I read a friend's poetry, I ask what they were thinking about. So, when my friend asked me, "So, what were YOU thinking when you wrote this poem.?", I replied, "Precisely what I've written." At this age, everyone is constantly battling their own demons and no one knows where they stand. Your religious, political and social views will change from what they are today, we are told. But why wait for later. Why can't we accept them as permanent and move on with life? Then there are our own personal beliefs that need to be "rectified" by someone else. It is all too overwhelming for now, isn't it?
If not in person, I want to hear you.
My only wish is to hold your hands,
Very simple, you say.
But wishes of two people,
who are so far away can only be that way.
Is it really Love, I wonder?
Maybe yes, maybe no.
But whatever it is baby,
It makes me happy either way.
I feel bad for Jane Austen. I really do. Hers was such a remarkable life. It was a life that one can look as a model. Love does not always have to end in happiness and of both parties ending up together. I do not know what love is. I do know that it does not make you equip you with a source of everlasting happiness. But what it does do is make you a better person. It will make you achieve excellence. It will make you aim for things higher than yourself and of thing that you alone could never imagine. It gives that assurance that whatever you do there is always someone who will love you irrespective of everything. And that is how I saw her write. It seemed like I was there watching her with her pen. I loved the line, “I shall live by my pen.” It is a very brave thing to say. Especially when we take it in reference to someone like me. I loved everything about her. She got up early in the morning and wrote. And how satisfying it must be! Devoting yourself a particular time. I loved the fact that she did not immediately look for perfection in her writing. She was not wary of making corrections. I always am. I never stop to reconsider my work. In fact, I hate re-reading everything I write for betterment purposes. I used to think that this was how my piece was supposed to be. But now I will be honest and say I was taking a short way out. It takes hard work to better your work. Her way of cutting was most extraordinary! And she knew exactly what was to be written. It takes time to achieve whatever you want. And immense patience. My constant question is how one gets that amount of patience. It seems unnatural. But I suppose that you acquire that as you go along something you truly love. And that applies to humans as well, I think. ‘Epiphany-ied’ sense of relationships. I agree that one can write better after you have experienced something. But that is in contradiction as well. What really touched me was that tom named daughter Jane. How beautiful a tribute is that? And in the end she became what they both wanted- Jane Lefroy.