Tag Archives: words

Picking Up the Threads

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Today, I woke up feeling like a warrior. As if I could and should slay everything that holds me back from writing – my moods, lethargy, boredom, and my worst enemy – procrastination. If I gave the impression that I was going to indulge in violence, let me assure you that I’m a peace-loving creature, but when it comes to facing the blank screen, and getting myself to write, I wage a daily battle. Most days, I allow one or the other of my enemies to prevail over my better sense, but today is different. I’m actually posting, after having silenced the voices in my head that were saying, ‘Oh, but nothing special has happened today,’ OR ‘Why post something inane?’  (which would have stopped my overworked index finger, the solitary typist of my right hand, in its tracks),’ OR ‘I have nothing to say’ (well, that’s not quite the truth, it’s just the killjoy in me that rears its head every time I begin to write).

I started by making a new list. Lists shake  me out of my listlessness, and putting down everything in black and white, with some doodles enhancing the page, and pinning it on my bulletin board, reminds me that it’s going to be a fulfilling day. I discovered recently that bulletin boards can be popped up creatively, like the several I saw on Pinterest. (I love owls)

Bulletin Board
Picture: Pinterest

My bulletin board will have the beginnings of a story, writers’ quotes, index cards filled with references and research, colourful post-its with names of characters from my next book (the first is still waiting in the wings, rather impatiently, to find a home), a collage of my writerly life. The thought itself is  invigorating. Well, the best of writers have fought their  way out of inertia to put words on paper. I’m a fledgling aspirant, trying to enlarge and romanticise my daily struggle. And, to borrow J K Rowling’s  words, I’m a muggle. In a writer’s world, Muggles are creatures who need a large mug of coffee (in my case, ginger tea) to create magic on paper.

Today’s Quote:

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Picture Quote: Google

I have that longing too. Obviously, Knausgard is on top of my to-read list. (Well, er… I think he looks great too.) So are Elena Ferrante, and a host of classics.

Note to myself: Plan reading. (I get overwhelmed by the pile of books by my bedside, and every time someone mentions a good book, I want to grab it instantly. So I remember my friend, Arundhathi Subramaniam’s sage advice: ‘Read at will.’

Time to scan the bookshelves. To make the choice. To immerse myself in the world of fiction. To read. To write. To battle. It’s going to be an eventful day…

 

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In the Slow Lane, Waiting…

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Today, the seven sisters, saat baaya, the original twitterati, were at their cacophonous best. They babbled away gregariously, unmindful that they had stupefied the koel, albeit momentarily. They settled on a flamboyant yellow flowering tree, whose blossoms freshly bathed by the night rain, allured myriad winged visitors. The plumeria was generous in her offerings. She had strewn the grass with joyous white blooms waiting to be gathered.

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The sky was streaked with gold, the sun yet to come out. These are the mornings when the moment you take an invigorating breath, you feel deeply grateful to be alive. As if in acknowledgement, a flock of squawking parrots flies past, and a wagtail settles on the lush green below, its tail a propeller.

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The weather is salubrious and the mood languorous. Ah! Life in the slow lane… Savouring every moment, taking a minute longer to locate the elusive Bharadwaj, watching the clouds do a slow dance and part to make way for the sun, going into raptures as its rays break through and set every pore of the earth ablaze with infinite possibilities… This life chose me. I can’t stop smiling.

There are the books waiting to be read, the stories begging to be written. Can it get better? I open one of my favourite books: These My Words: The Penguin Book of Indian Poetry Edited by Eunice De Souza & Melanie Silgardo. Randomly I read from a Gujarati Folk Song, by an anonymous poet, titled ‘Rain of The World’. Pour down, O rain of the world, Thou art the rain of four continents. The earth, thy beloved is waiting for thee.

We wait. For someone to arrive, for something to change, for some messiah to save the world, for the tides to turn. Seasons change. Waiting is pregnant with both hope and futility. Eyes glued to the door, someone waits somewhere for the departed to return. A battered soul engulfed by dark thoughts waits for first light. A young girl waits for her dream-lover. We wait for Godot.

Closer home, children, dressed in white and canary yellow, sea green and white and grey and white checked uniforms wait impatiently for their school buses to arrive. A six-year-old holding a lunch box bag swings his arm up and down prompting his mother to admonish him. ‘The food will spill out’, she warns. He stops midway and lowers his arm. A minute later, up goes his arm mindlessly, the restlessness of his age overruling his mother’s warning. His unmindfulness exasperates her and she grabs the bag from his hand, inspects it for spillage and keeps it with her.

The buses arrive one by one, and the little ones pile in, waving out to their parents and minders. As the adults turn to leave, I can see that their strides now have an urgency.

A crow caws, breaking my reverie. Slow gains momentum. My feet tap across to the kitchen. The black-eyed beans I had placed in a sieve near the window have sprouted. They have the sun in their bellies. The tiny spearmint plant my new friends gifted me sways in the breeze.  It looks vulnerable, having taken root in new soil. The sambar balli plant, the latest addition to my family, keeps it company. It adds a pop of soothing green to the terrace. I touch the underside of a leaf and breathe in its oregano-like odour. One day, I will dip some leaves in chickpea batter and enjoy the crunch of piping hot sambar balli bajjos. I water the plants. They drink eagerly.

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The skies have now changed colour. They are a dark grey. It may rain today. Words too, I hope.

How the day bloomed

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There are days when you wake up on the wrong side of your bed or sit up and stretch, expecting the life force to surge inside your body, in vain, and walk limply to freshen up, hoping that the blues vanish, as the day passes. At six in the morning, the day was holding itself back, hiding the sun behind a grey sheet of sky, trapping within its fists, gusts of wind that breathe momentum into a new day.

Today, a hush had descended on the tamarind tree outside my window, its invisible inhabitants exhibiting no traces of their secret nocturnal  activities. (Legend has it that a tamarind tree is the chosen abode of the dead, in limbo, entities who haven’t yet passed over to the other side). I try not to think of these baggy pouches of dimmed light swinging on the branches of the tamarind tree, peering into my house, as they savour the sour taste of its comma-shaped fruits and contemplate on their journey out of the darkness. These musings are both exciting and terrifying–flights of fancy that elevate the mundane and infuse it with nervous energy.  I know that the tamarind tree’s eyes are wide open. Silently, it captures the quotidian motions of the inhabitants that share space with it on earth. Not a leaf moves. The breeze lies curled up inside its hearth, its feet close to its chest. On days that take their time to break, the onus is on you to inject zeal into them. Monday mornings, especially, need a kick on the rear.

Last evening, I was at a reading of the lovely Kiran Manral’s latest book, ‘The Face at The Window’ at Just Books, Thane, with writer Sunita Saldhana, and an enthusiastic audience. It was a homecoming, isolated as I was from enjoyable social interaction, real and virtual, almost the whole of last year, struggling to complete my book. I had abandoned my blogs, becoming a stepmother to them, as I lavished all my attention on this strange organism that was taking shape, as I nurtured it with my sweat and blood. With the book written, the waiting has begun. Of rejection slips. Of the unexpected. Hope hovers…

At the reading, when Kiran exhorted the budding writers in the audience to pen at least 500 words every day, I felt a distinct tug in my heart. The guilt of neglecting my blogs surfaced. It was time to pick up the threads. Today, I opened a page with much trepidation, jogging my memory to remember the password that would give me all access. What was I going to write about? That too, on a day that refused to blossom? How many words?

My notebook sat on my dining table by the window. All I had to do was to let the pencil fly on the page and allow the words to flow. Would they? A pigeon cooed on the cantilever outside; a flight of birds streaked across the sky; an invisible warbler enlivened the air with its song, and the tamarind tree swayed as the breeze, having unleashed itself, serenaded it. Sunlight beamed through its branches and flooded my room. I should have known. All is well with the world.