Somewhere along the mundane morbidity of this life, I have lost being able to lose myself into something. That scares me to my wit’s end.
A phase where it is impossible to concentrate on one single thing and be able to do it. Guess it all boils down to the Perils of a PhD. I just cannot help, but relate my PhD process to a beautiful line of a Tamizh song
“நான் தூக்கி வளர்த்த துயரம் நீ” “naan thookki vaLartha thuyaram nee!”
It literally translates to something like that of “You are a sorrow that I raised.” (willingly and lovingly, [my emphasis])
At times, I can only laugh at the irony of its aptness. Given all that! With twenty five days to go, Chapters to write and Drafts to be done, Corrections, Bibliography check, footnotes and citations and corrections pending. ALL and the least and the most I need to do now, is take care of my ownself, stop panicking every now and then, take few deep breaths at every possible intervals and be on the maniac, militant and drunk writing mode. Good luck to my own self. This is the last phase of PhD and it matters more than anything now. From March 2011 to December 2017, with a break of five years in teaching, I need to be strong and pass through the final passage of rite to complete this ritual and Ordeal called PhD. Go BeeNat, Go. Keep writing 🙂
Life… sigh.. Became unstoppably an un-happening affair. My one and a half year stint of life in Shillong, the Scotland of East did let me learn and unlearn a lot of things. The idle town/city, where I spent a considerable portion of the nights in my life awake and half asleep, woken up to an earthquake, wade my way through its charm and closeted streets; yet it stops me often to raise an important existential question. What am I doing? Here? Off late, certain, at times an inevitable complacency creeps into me. I untangle myself and let it go and I go on.
A crisp cold evening; the winter is aloud on air; when you feel the wind biting into your skin unaware. As I stroll on the streets of my neighbourhood, I can’t escape feeling this feeling of discomfort. If I were to borrow a certain Bollywood description for the beefed up security measures on the context of President’s visit and called this scene as Kashmir-a/like. Mind me, I am righteously wrong here. I also prefer to shy away from such-any filmic description, as it would give away my misinformed nationalistic view of things.
Yet another successful bandh, following a series of bandhs, office picketing, and road blockades. Nothing works as perfect as Fear in this small town. All I am worried about now is the missing Red-Carpet or maybe I did manage to miss, it being laid out somewhere for the Honourable-His Excellency. I should make a mental note to check the Secretariat, Raj Bhavan, CM’s residence and the university. It would be a gross Grecian disgrace to miss out on such an important colonial/comical custom. I looked for it in the streets as well.
The streets looked deserted, rather deserted by people, who preferred to huddle up inside their houses for an evening. Scattered sparsely on either sides of the road were few men and boys who went about their business. A few kongs and chai wallahs were busy in their evening order of things. The Haphazardly parked police and security vehicles seemed to make up for the empty canvas of an evening in a Shillong street.
The charm of the place has definitely taken a day off on Mukherjee’s maiden visit to Meghalaya.
Come whatever! I am out to enjoy a cup of tea in this cold weather. Balancing the plastic cup in one hand, I manage to get hold of my mobile from my pocket to read a text. “It is not Meghalaya, it is bandhalaya.” Makes sense in one way.
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I’ve been this way. My mind feels as if it has been through a roller coaster-ride. I don’t know why, I keep getting all this weird feelings. May be mixed feelings. I feel as if a big tragedy is going to befall me, am going to lose that-very-special-someone. Sometimes, I feel strangely-stupid. Being stupid is okay for a person like me, but this is strange. At times, I get so excited for nothing, other times, I feel very plain, just the usual aiyo-paavam-payan (poorly poor guy looks). sometimes I am very anxious, as anxious as a mother of a young girl who is on her first date.
May be work can do this to people, but why me? It is for people who work hard, I hardly work. For me, even the thought of work or just imagining to be working, tires my soul. And I need countless cups of coffee to get out of this depressing depression. What next? I became fatigue because of my compulsive consumption of coffee. When I’m about to work, I try to warm up to do my best, but in the course, I get heated up and eventually worn out. The very idea of chilling out, freaks me out now.
Am I born with a default disorder which is designed to develop dispersions as I go on?
If at all I manage everything and finally sit to work. I get all innovative ideas on how to evade work. It just then will occur to my mind how I never keep my surrounding clean. When I get to my cleansing work, my mobile dutifully rings, any concerned friend will be available exactly then. I end up talking all the worldly affairs.
I feel all the guiltier after the call. I try to concentrate with all my will power to concentrate on one work. To test me, I often indulge in this very useful exercise. I sit on the floor in an asana position and try to focus my mind on nothing. I intensely command my self not to think about anything, but nothing. I suggest that I should do nothing for the next 30 minutes. I settle myself and spend a minute thinking how I should go about it and suddenly my alarm goes off. Cursing my forgetfulness, I get up to make sure that I shouldn’t be disturbed by anything. I visit every room to check all potential disturbance factors such as Television, radio, mobile, alarm, music system are completely put out. By the time I return, there is a knock at the door. It must be my post-man. I return to my room with the recent issue of The Week. I flip through the pages to read my favorite column. Oh! then I remember my mission. I drop my magazine and resume my asana position. It is already 12.30 PM and I’ve got to meet my dentist at 2Pm. I again do the follow-up procedure and concentrate on nothing. I can hear the sound of the fan in the next room. No let it. Who cares? I should concentrate. I think about calling the clinic to check with them, but why worry, I have an appointment. I make a mental note to brush my teeth before I leave. I think I need to wear my other blue jean and the red tee. Should I take some cash from the ATM? Did I get the card back from mom? I should concentrate now on doing nothing. And the telephone rings. I forgot to completely put out this potential disturbance factor. I get up half-heartedly, thinking how annoying these telephones are.
It was my dad, asking me if I’ve booked my ticket for the next week’s journey. I wonder why he should ask that now. I tell him that I will do that today and let him know. I hung up the phone wondering whether this trait of being futuristic run in our family genes. Anyways I should wash my black jean; it has been nearly two months. I think about doing something and enter the kitchen to have a cup of chai and to go about the day.
Actually this is what happens to people like me, who plan to overwork, but end up doing nothing. My only problem is that I over-plan, take too much in my plate than I can afford to eat. I should rather prioritize my priorities first. But before that, more importantly I should learn to talk less. I know that I talk more, more enough to actually annoy anyone who never gets easily annoyed. Vinu calls me, “a potential threat to anyone who wants to work, even anyone who works in my vicinity will be affected by my strong aura with an unassuming ability to actually annoy people.” Cool. I remember how he was always patient with me till one day- When he literally slapped me just because he couldn’t stand my bugging him the whole day. Poor Vinu! How bad he would have felt! It really hurts me. But honestly I know inside, that it was less for what I did then. Yes I really love to talk more, annoy and bug people. Big Deal? See, I actually don’t know what my problem is- Whether my ability to annoy people, theatrical talent to talk more or multi-tasking (rather multiple planning) and special God-Given-Gift to do nothing and arriving at artistic ways of annoying people. It is not because I’m bored that I talk, annoy or bug, it’s because I love and I love to do these.
Have been this way since I’ve been this way. I know it is quite difficult for people to put up with me. Even I’ve felt that too and tried running away from me. But honestly, I just couldn’t come to think about my self abandonment. I get all this and once in a while I suddenly retreat to silence for the greater good. As how Anu akka calls it, “Hibernation” Scientifically speaking a bear needs around 20,000 calories of energy before it goes to hibernation and she tells me that “I would’ve spent the same amount of calories talking before I proceed to hibernate.”
Whatever it is! It is my problem and it is not my problem, but there is a magic in all this. I connect to people; get to know people when I actually talk with them and more than anything when I listen to people. I learn to listen more. Listening is the high art of loving. And when people get ready to share, it is these three magical words that amplify the power of love: Tell Me More.
And may be I talk more and more because I know that I (We) don’t speak enough.
Sitting by my bedside window, I couldn’t stop wondering where my fate took me. Rather should I say how I took refuge in my fate! I can easily recollect when I wrote last and what I. Seems ages ago to me, but I knew I never bid adieu to my musings. And yet scared inside, what if musings parted me forever. Even then I will be eternally grateful for being with me short while and making my life worthwhile.
I remember or rather strain myself to remember the uncertainty. I went through for the past few months. Life was good in those evenings. Perched in the porches with people in the blissful non-chalant ambience with books aside. The ease with which everything went, switching topics, heated arguments, threatening looks, daring to contradict and the never ending Chronic conversations. The transition therefore to follow was unknown then. Nothing remains the same and not everything changes.
I was away for a while. And today I am back, back to being myself. I could only wonder that it was this rain that rained today made me write. Was it a writer’s block that prevented me from pampering the paper? I remember writing in my mind every time when I talk with me as I walk. May be writing warrants a quiet contemplative pensive mood, rather than a talkative walk? May be I can consider sitting in an asana position with pen and paper aside meditating. Dissolving into the surroundings for better contemplation, so that I can wake up and write. Blessed will be the writers when they perform a ‘Puja’ to get their gift in return or still easier is to get a piece of Creative writing with a flick of wand by a non-verbal spell “Amusingness”.
It is the complete participation in life with a genuine interest and keen observation of things around us that evokes the magic of muse. It is the ability to view the subtle trivial beauties of life with an uncanny yet a healthier wonderment. One can easily find these attributes in R K Narayan’s works, one of the greatest writers ever of times. He had his own share of ups and downs in life and having made out of it helped him to prove his inherent nature/ability of being the best story-teller. Yet sometimes it can be a real threat to one’s ability to write, but the only panacea to it is to keep writing no matter what. Great Writers and famous authors always advise amateurs to keep writing to improve, but they tend to forget that writing continuously or continuous writing can turn life to a disaster. Amateurs, unlike me who take the words of such people, “their gurus” seriously, in the other way round, often fall a victim to continuous writing.
Continuous writing should be to give in enough efforts, try new kinds of writing, to attain perfection and not merely to enter Guinness records. There are times when I took continuous writing seriously and wrote pages and pages to stop suddenly to find my fountain pen running out of ink. I couldn’t continue for a simple yet a genuine reason for I couldn’t find an ink-bottle in vicinity; it must be certainly a good day for the papers, for I did hear mutterings of silent prayers for survival. If my guess is right, they ended their jubilant celebrations with an excellent feast.
There are times when my creativity overflowed, overwhelmed with thoughts for I couldn’t write a single line as I didn’t know what to write first. It was like as if all my thoughts in total threatened to desert me if I don’t give them first priority. Trust me. It was the most difficult moment in my life. I realized what a total dumb-bell I am when it comes to choice. I cried, wailed, howled till midnight like a banshee for an unknown, unreasonable reason. I knew that the moment which I feared the most in my life will come true. ‘The death of my writing’. I sat silently mourning for the rest of the night. As the dawn came, I prepared for the rest. Dressed in black, I got out of my house carrying my note-book like a child’s prized possession. On reaching my garden, I began digging a small grave to bury my ‘dead child’. I stood wistfully for hours together; till I realized that I lost something which I should not have. It was a deep peep into the past, reliving the nostalgia. Now I realize that my Reverence was so true that I could have easily composed the ‘World’s Best Elegy’, if I hadn’t buried my ‘Note-book’.
I sincerely regret.
People, especially great writers like me (if I become one) should understand that there are times in life when one cannot write, in spite of all sincere efforts. They should not feel bad or guilt about it; everything happens for a reason (preferably good if taken in the right sense). It cost me my first elegy (The world’s Best) to learn this lesson. For I’ve also learnt another lesson: “Nothing comes free.”
Great moments often catch us unaware, also great pieces are written unaware.
It was in one such moment, though as usual when all my the thoughts in total threatened to desert me if I don’t take one in particular, I came up with my Masterpiece!
I gave in my best efforts and chose none, for I knew all my thoughts are great and why disgrace one by choosing another. And my masterpiece was ready to be printed in the morning. I sent it to publisher (it’s not difficult to find one these days, for they are greatly listed in Yellow pages, it is as easy as getting a cab) who sent it back to me with an enclosed abusive note for wasting his time.
I felt terribly down. Emerson came to my rescue: “To be great is to be misunderstood”.I took the “Blank Paper’, my masterpiece and kept it safely in my diary. For now I knew the truth that I was born ahead of time and my audience is not yet born. I realized that the publisher’s have no literary knowledge or basic literary sense. Had they known Keats “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter” no publisher would have dared to let go a masterpiece unpublished. A great shame has befallen the literary world. My life of writing for the past one decade minus eight years has seen such many brutal acts of refusal.
It is Frost who keeps my writerly life alive by his quote “And Miles to go before I sleep”.
I realized that if there can be anything more threatening to a writer than Writer’s block, it is the immense difficult art of naming a piece of writing, for writing can be spontaneous, but naming is instantaneous. And here I confess to my unborn audience that it is the Baptist’s block that scares me more than a Writer’s block
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It is essential to carry enough change when traveling, that too with the frequent use of corporation buses, but certainly not enough, enough to have a clanging sound accompanying you and making a good sight of a beggar in you. God! How it feels when people turn around to have a glimpse of the strange source of sound.
Avoid mobile, books, paper and at any cost, say no to peanuts when walking alongside the road. Trust me, this don’t go good on roads. No wonder not only Mahatma Gandhi realized the energy source of peanuts, even monkey(s) like me fell for them, exactly into a pit, eating it all the while, forgetting what comes on road.
Put up an air of decency (at least an artificial one) when you’re in a bookshop. Don’t enter a bookshop when it is about to close (to) drool at the sight of books, get lost in them and search exactly for books which they had run out of stock. Don’t call your-reader friend for suggestions, either you won’t buy anything/ buy till you give out the last penny. Don’t get lost amidst the pile of books and make the bookshop people raise the alarm, drag you by neck and have you thrown out.
It is good to get down four or five stops ahead and take a peaceful walk. Certainly this is not advisable when you badly want to pee and then keep thinking through out the trail whether the best thing is to wait till your place or wet your pant drop by drop.
When on road, that too with your old ruggedly worn-out good-for-everything jeans, it is better not to fish out your wallet and mobile often, I kept pushing my wallet back to the front pocket of my jean and unaware of accidentally pushing half my shirt into it. I felt a little tugging at my feet. When I looked down after a few steps, my jean-trouser was half way down my waist and I made quite a sight. I pulled it back just to hear my button snapping out to drown into the nearby drainage and commit suicide. Well It was heavenly comfortable to walk with my trouser held up high, a book bundle in the same hand, and a paper pack of peanuts in another.
It is good to be on your own and trust one’s instincts. To get lost and engage in the process of self-discovery, but you can refrain yourself from this disastrous entertainment in new places. Read the illustration to understand the concept.
Mr. BJ wanted to go to a bookshop. He took a bus from B bus-stop, got down at C bus stop to get to the bookshop. Took some directions from the passers by and with God’s grace ended up in one. While returning, he followed the land marks. It didn’t occur to the dumbstricken’s brain that in a city, there would be many outlets of the same bakery, Pizza house, Coffee shop, Ice cream parlor. Blindly following them for an hour, he stopped to realize that he had walked for an hour and more to no-where. He stopped to ask someone’s help to board a bus to get down at the B bus stop. The Samaritan-stranger suggested that a two minute-walk down the left lane leads to the bus stop.
The rest is just peace.
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