Sunday, September 18, 2011

Loyalty issues

I have a loyalty issue.

I don’t know if anyone else feels the same way. And this problem creates a lot of other problems in my life.

Take for instance today, when I went to a Crossword store to buy books for my nephews. After buying what I wanted for them, I made a beeline for a shelf containing Ruskin Bond books. It’s no secret among my friends that Vikram Seth and Ruskin Bond are two of my favourite writers. Sure, I’ve decided books are very costly and I won’t buy them anymore etc, etc, but when I go to a bookstore, I end up checking if there are any new books by these two guys. That’s loyalty issue no 1, for this means I barely check out other authors. Even if I decide on a book by another author and buy it, I always go check if there are new books by Bond and Seth.

Loyalty issue no 2 extends to my cellphone. My sister once told me Nokia phones are the best. In the past 11 years since I have begun to use these gadgets, I have only bought Nokia. Even the most cheap or most user friendly phone by another company will not convince me to buy it.
There are more loyalty issues, but let’s stick to Bond here. I love Bond for another reason. He’s not one of those authors who boasts of an education abroad or a jet-set lifestyle (Yes, Seth kind of fits into this description, and he’s the only exception to the rule whose works I like). Here’s a man of so-called English origin – juxtaposed with our many young present writers of ‘Indian-origin’ – who admits he missed India in England and returned home. He knows Mussoorie like the back of his hand and he’s a simple man who uses words to weave stories from his life. He writes about the same place, and sometimes the same people, and most of us love him for this.

In a time when every Indian writer in English claims to be a ‘global writer’, I prefer going back to the writings of this podgy gentleman from a small town, who has no pretences of ensnaring readers with his international style or erudition. I am happy reading about rain in the mountains, or how it feels like to swim in a pond, or how a python was fascinated with his reflection. I don’t have to find the perfect frame of mind when I want to read his books. Most importantly, I can keep reading them again and again like going back to meet old friends.

Some may say Bond never strays from ‘the formula’. But if its an author whose words I can trust to make me happy, or even cry when I am feeling low, or uplift my mood if I am simply tired, I will buy his books. Then this is one loyalty issue which I am happy with.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

On writing

I started my other blog as a tribute to my sister whom I lost to complications from breast cancer. But four months ago I lost another person I loved. My father. He was bedridden for a while after a stroke.

I am still learning to live without him.

It’s going to take some time getting used to writing again. The art both my parents, my mother, an author and translator; and my father, a well known author and veteran journalist, passed on to me. Each time I write, I know I pay tribute to them. I shall cease to exist the day I stop writing.

I always find solace in words, but there is a time when I didn’t. That was the time my sister died. Everyone who came home spoke the usual gibberish consolers speak. I longed for them to stop. But they didn’t. They all kept saying the same words intended to comfort us. But I was tired of hearing them. Then a neighbour’s son came to meet us. He didn’t say anything. He just hugged me. And that was all that I had wanted.

Over time I have made my peace with words. After my father died, the same people returned with the same words they had spoken when my sister had died. This time I succeeded at keeping both of them away. And now, four months on, I am accepting words back into my life. The last time I found solace reading ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’. This time too, it’s another book and another experience. It was my gtalk status message saying ‘Can someone lend me a copy of ‘Eat, pray, love’’ that made my friend G buy me a copy of the book which was delivered to my home.

Elizabeth Gilbert wrote the book when she was 36 – my present age – and lost in life. I had heard a lot about the book and wanted to read it. Honestly, I didn’t enjoy it in the beginning. But as I read it, I began to find solace in it.

I don’t know what I will read after this book. But one thing’s for sure. It has made me want to think about what I want to do in my life. And I do want to write.