Writing Left Out To Dry On The Line

I stared at the clock, and an overwhelming sadness overtook me. Just two days of quarantine left, and my journal is bereft of words. The plain papers flutter under the ceiling fan. My medicine bottle becomes an apt paper weight. I snooze a little and all the images that I have binge watched on YouTube haunt me. A famous film star--Raj Kapoor, whose biography I was watching comes along with his brothers and sons. I was half awake all the time, aware of my part-frantic part-dull existence with corona virus for company. Was this the state that prompted Coleridge to write his Kubla Khan? I was no Coleridge, and Raj Kapoor and his family were a famous lot from the Indian Hindi Film Industry. Definitely not from Xanadu.

I was always fascinated by family sagas, perhaps a residual childhood-longing for large homes filled with many close-knit, loving members. The key figures were always the warm grandparents on the maternal and paternal sides, a host of aunts and uncles and of course, my parents. Everything boils down to them. Our identities, our behaviour, our upbringing, our fears and anxieties, and our illnesses and happinesses--how much is centred around this accident of birth! The Bhagwat Gita would say that these are not accidents, but the direct fruits of our past actions; our karmas. And thus musing, I felt I wasted my time in the past. My karma had come home to roost as I was still waiting to write.

In a moment of inspiration, I had promised a friend of mine that I’ll write a book on effective parenting. My guru here was Dr Benjamin Spock, the famous American pediatrician and author on Childcare. Having brought up two children, I felt qualified to write a book on the subject. But soon enough, the bubble burst when my son innocently pointed out a few chinks in my maternal armour. My daughter, in a moment of truth, told me that she relied on her father more than me to get things executed. Far from being traumatized though, I relished this new conflict, a breakthrough of sorts, hoping that this would be the fertile ground on which my word-flowers would bloom. Nothing happened.

Parenting receded into the background.

All at once, I had chanced upon the subject of Gandhian Nonviolence, a theme dear to my heart. Certainly, an academic paper was in order. But after a few basic readings and downloading and generating and deleting several half- written word documents, realization had dawned that this was also petering off. Had the Corona virus contaminated my creative juices? 

The bottle of immunity boosting medicine winked at me like a co-conspirator as it stood sturdily on the fluttering pages of my journal. But as I stared at some loose pages, I spotted a folded page. Upon closer examination, I noted that it was a grocery list made before the pandemic last year, for a recipe I never attempted. And then on the next page, I found it! A long-forgotten ditty I had jotted down while the washing machine was in full throttle: 

The Process (of Writing)
Write the words
Soak them
Let them rest within
the pages for a few days.
Forget them
Once you have truly forgotten them,
It will be bliss for a few days.
Till chance, makes you open them again.
You are pleasantly surprised
To encounter those words,
Written by another you.
You gaze at the words
With wonder!
Days of soaking has led

To ideas bubbling around them
Much like soap suds.
You gingerly pick on the 
Ideas till they wink at you, blinding you completely.
You sit down to dust a thought, scrub a feeling, rinse a metaphor
Finally, some writing is wrung out of you!

Anupama S Shenoy is an Assistant Professor, teaching English and Communication Skills to undergraduates of Ramrao Adik Institute of Technology, Dr D Y Patil University, New Mumbai, INDIA.