It's only been like 4 iterations till now and it already feels like I've been writing this column for a long bloody time. I hate deadlines but a part of me can't deny that there's no better inspiration than last minute panic. If we weren't forced to bring things to a closure, we'd be making making more and more meaningless changes under the guise of perfection when it really is fear about not being approved. (I think we do all that we do because we want to be approved. Be unique in just the right proportions. ) I'm not a big fan of perfection, unsurprisingly, because it demands focus, commitment and discipline-- Comedy.. for me to be even dropping those words. Anyway, I'm here because this month's deadline is on me and I'm trying to procrastinate until the last moments to wake the fucking inspiration from it's deep slumber. Writing becomes so much easier the more frequently you do it but then again it's not probably always a good thing. I'm such a lousy architect of sentences, though come to think of it, shouldn't I go resculpt them instead of berating myself in more ugly lines.
I love being a pessimist, a wannabe-nihilist. In a world devoid of meaning, all attempts to progress are absurdly comic. Seriously, you can hardly disappoint a pessimist. Whatever good happens to him feels like a premonition for the fall but since he's expecting that anyway, he's jolly happy about being prepared. Try stopping to fight for a moment with life and just give in. It makes everything so much easier. But will that lead you to a worthwhile (again, someone else's standards of what you should be doing with your time here) life is another question. I was reading JM Coetzee's Lives of Animals yesterday (Master. Each one of his sentences emanates the heat of the anvil where they were wrought. Here is a man who is so accomplished in thought that even his most offhand lines have the power to rip you apart.) and (I seem to be using too many brackets for asides. Should I go the DFW way and opt for footnotes. Too bad I can't write half as well as him. His writing's a marvel. It's less what he's seeing and saying than how he wishes world was. ) (Actually, in a way, his footnotes ushered 'literary' fiction into the age of the internet. I used to worry about using ellipses because I thought it was the characteristic of a blogpost but the cliches are right again and it's not a gimmick if you aren't using it as one. You never know, someone might soon publish a 'serious' book with smileys.) I forgot what I wanted to say amidst all these asides. Where was I? Yes, Lives of Animals but I can't remember what I wanted to say. Fuck this gimmicks man. This apparent transposition of stream-of-consciousness is obviously false. And yet, I can't resist it because this seems like a good package to transport the nature of my thoughts. Weird isn't it: to embrace the truth, you have to walk down the path of falsehood. (I could be a really fucked person's 1st grade Zen Teacher.) All communication is spurious. However, all action that conveys it can only be the truth.
-Are you a nihilist?
-Not as much as I should be.
"How odd I can have all this inside me and to you it's just words" -DFW
Do you write or does the writing happen to you?
As I was waiting for the elusive inspiration, which wouldn't knock despite the encroaching deadline, Amma kept giving me topics I should write about- Old films, the incessant rains, about depressingly hilarious ads; anything light-hearted and fun unlike the my usual brooding, faux-intellectual pieces. I kept turning them down. I didn't want to write about something frivolous, something forgettable, something.. enjoyable. I wanted to come off as a suffering artist, as someone valiantly carrying the immense load of his intellectual gifts, someone who saw the world less as a visceral, grimy entity and more as an opportunity for analyses in abstract forms. Anyway, here I was getting carried away with my imaginary genius while unable to type a damn word when Amma reminded me of Lalitha garu. She said that I ought to thank her everyday for she ignited the spark, so to speak- nurtured the sapling, encouraged whatever little gifts I had, nudged me into the right direction. Too bad because I can't remember much of it.
Sure I see the fragments- her ferociously red henna-stained hair, her girth, their stunningly urban upper middle-class house, the day I sat in the backseat of their Premier Padmini while we drove somewhere, an old lady (her mother I think), the casual elitism I enjoyed among the other tuition students. I'd like to believe I remember her touch but all I can hear is the becalming tinkling of her gold bangles while she hugged me. It feels nice remembering these things now. I haven't seen her since the day we came back from Delhi. I don't remember saying goodbye to her; for that matter I don't remember seeing her for the first time. She's an ethereal presence. Somehow concrete too. I know it happened to me. I think I can remember her smell now. Maybe I should thank her for these memories. They're nice. They make me feel more alive, give my life a certain heft.
There is nothing more amazing than gazing back at life with nostalgia. The past is glorious, I wish it was the present. Which one of you hasn't craved for school, for a childhood that wasn't, for a more innocent world. I remember school, the laughter, the favourite teachers, the lazy afternoons gazing out of the window, the simple pleasures, the nervous excitement of overhearing adult conversations, the dreams of "growing up". But there was probably more to it. I'm sure it wasn't just warm sunlight, dream defining English classes and the breathlessness of first romance. There was frustration, fear and Physics classes. There were teachers who you hated and others who hated you. I remember being taught Mulk Raj Anand in the classroom in the cellar, the melancholy that world instigated in me. I remember trying to impress Jayasree madam in her demo class because I was desperate to be a part of the worlds she was creating with her words and because I knew she was a human who'd understand the inarticulatable agony I was going through as a confused, dreamy child. I remember that day so vividly that as I write this, I have butterflies in my stomach. I remember the long, slow bicycle rides back from school. I remember the nights sitting on the stairs waiting for Amma to come back from office.
All of us are always trying to get away. Nobody likes the present, nobody knows the future. All we have is an imaginary past- made of collages of films and photos and myths and songs on cassette tapes. A past filled with interesting people, deep, long conversations, purity and joy and innocence, of freedom and play. A world filled only with first-hand experience. A world so real it can only be imaginary. I don't want to intellectualize; I'm beginning to believe it'll drive us to madness one day. But so will all this day dreaming. We are crazy. We are desperate. We are petty. We are kind. We are all daydreamers. We crave pain so deep that it'll relieve us of our pettiness, of our irritating squabbles. We want real, unadulterated experiences. We want life to drag us by the collar, punch us in the stomach, kiss us deeply, whisper in our ear. And yet we're too afraid of letting go of our older experiences, of our learnings and expectations, of our fancy jargon and fragile ivory towers. We're incongruous, we're absurd, we're doomed. We're human.