Don’t Prompt Me, Let Me Remember My Lines

As a child, I was a walking-talking telephone directory. Even at the age of 7, I could memorize nearly every phone number my mother dialed, and the phone numbers of my classmates, without even trying too hard. This was true till I was seventeen, when my dad, like every other dad that played dad to my generation, made the very grave mistake of buying me a cellphone. Now I have a hard time memorizing my own phone number. Or I must say, I am too lazy to.

Last year, for the first time I had signed up for the April A to Z Challenge, at the end of which I felt drained of all and any creative abilities I may have had. I wrote a post about this as well.

It was after the April challenge that I began to write “micro-poetry” on Twitter. I wrote those cos I did not have anything substantial to put up on my blog, but at the same time I did not wanna stop writing. Writing is a craft, and like any other, needs to be constantly whetted. And when you can write multiple four-line poems each day (and get appreciated for them too), your blog lies there collecting dust.

When I started this blog, I sneered a little at those who blogged for contests. I felt they were sellouts who blogged carrot-and-stick style, and were thus missing the point of blogging. Until I became one of them. I blogged not for the prizes announced, but because I could cook something out of their prompts. As a result, I did not find a problem with bending the rules, and writing paranormal stories where romances were requested. Or writing fiction where real life anecdotes were requested.

Maybe I was still fooling myself, but the truth was, I was writing for contests and I can’t be a hypocrite about it. And much like the phone-book on my cellphone, I found it easier to depend on platter-served writing prompts than coming up with themes and tales on my own. It was fine till it started weighing hard on my conscience. I might be exaggerating, but I felt like someone who compromised their integrity. I felt like someone who had become lazy, who favored micropoetry over full length forms, who waited for a third person or a Twitter handle to tell her, “Why don’t you write about elephants landing on the moon and throwing rocks to Mars today?” Someone’s idea. Someone’s brainwave. And here I sit writing about it on a blog I call my own. Am I so lazy?

So while I may have my occasional bouts of laziness and rub my hands when I see a writing prompt, let me hope those are far and few and the major chunk of posts come from my own mind.

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Against Blogging Challenges?


There a lot of people whose work becomes more presentable if they have finished it with a deadline in mind.
I am not one of those people.
I wrote twenty six posts for the April challenge. It is the first time I participated in a blogging challenge.  But as soon as the challenge was over, I felt I had exhausted my thinking ability. I realized some of the posts were quite meaningless, written only to fulfill the obligation to the letter with which the title began. Most of the posts were written in under five minutes and I did not tax my mind too much. As with all posts of mine (random and well thought out), I did not edit or proofread it. Which brought me to this question once the challenge was over – why did I really start blogging?
I started it to write down my thoughts when I had some, which was rare. My brain is forever on vacation and on rare days, it dusts off its spectacles and lights a little cigarette and when that happens, you can (figuratively) see a light bulb glow above my head. That’s when I write. But during the blogging challenge, I felt I was churning out posts for the sake of churning it out. Milking my brain; disturbing it while it vacationed on sandy beaches with a colorful drink with a little umbrella on top.
What was the point? Not a lot of those poems would have a lesson or a thought. And some titles were just there to fill in the letter. Zenith would’ve made more sense to people had I titled it something like “The Big-O”. And what in God’s name does “Voyages that have stories to tell” mean? People tell stories about voyages. Voyages do not tell stories about people. But nevertheless, people liked that one, I think. So it’s okay, I guess.
No! it’s not okay. A certain degree of integrity got compromised in putting those titles that were “plugged in” where they don’t belong. Correctly.
It is great for those who make blogging challenges work for them. But to keep my name up there every day isn’t why I blog. So that’s gonna be the last blogging challenge in which I am gonna participate.
Gotta give my brain a little rest so that it can think after a break.


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Yellowed Pages Of My Old Diary


Oh how many hearts I drew,
Oh how many times I wrote “L+S” in those hearts,
Made me wonder who he was,
Who once made me dream of stars?

Oh! Right, he was a star,
One from Hollywood, no less
The “L” meant Leonardo DiCaprio of course,
How silly of me back then!

A hundred sitcoms we watch,
A hundred Wodehouse novels we read,
But there’s nothing funnier than reading,
An old diary that shows what we’ve been!

Influenced so much by Betty Cooper
Every entry began with a “Dear Diary”
My Archie was so intangible,
And yet what soulful funny poems did I write!

Towards certain teachers there were
Detailed descriptions of hatred
And the pony tails of some girls that were
Undeservedly perfect!

But all in all there were some lessons learnt
Pearls of wisdom from younger days
Though they may seem so dumb now!
They helped me reach where I am today.

Oh how thankful I remain
To those yellowed pages of my old diary
To the thoughts of my eleven-year old self!
A silly, younger, and yet wiser me!


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XIII


His mother, grown weak by the pressures of household and child bearing without the time to heal, gave up after his birth. After struggling for thirteen hours in labor, he was born, yet to be named – the thirteenth son of the schoolteacher’s family, born on the thirteenth day of the month, thirteen months after the twelfth son.
The moon was in the thirteenth day of its cycle, and it cast an evil shadow on the boy. As he emerged from his mother, wailing, green eyes glinting wildly, so unlike a new born baby, one could see his mouth covered in black toxins.
A day after he was born, the midwife who delivered him, died due to severe burns. The flames began to engulf her, unannounced. The maid who found her later could find no source of the fire.
Always under the shadow of his brothers, much like the jealous moon reflecting the light of the more powerful sun, he knew for his distracted father to notice him, the brothers would have to die. For his thirteenth birthday, he asked the eldest brother for one present – a trip to the sugarcane fields.
Right in the middle of the field, he looked up at the sun, challenging it to show its powers. He was taunting the sun, to accomplish his own mission. The sun, in all its arrogance to thwart the child of the evil moon, set fire to the sugarcane fields.
The thirteenth son watched, as his brothers burnt. He seemed protected by the evil powers. He came out, unscathed. Alone he remained, the thirteenth son, now the only son of the schoolteacher. The one with a toxic mouth, the one with diabolical feet that charred the ground he walked on.
Linking this post to #AtoZChallenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/)

Related post: Field


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Where Did You Go, My Friend?


You.
Yes, it’s you who I am speaking to.
I’ll keep it short.
Before I ask you if you miss me,
I’ll ask you why you left.
And then I’ll ask you,
Do you miss me?
Sometimes I think you do,
Sometimes I think you’re waiting for me to ask.
But sometimes I think, you’re not like anyone else.
And you really don’t care.
Who listens now to your cynical views of the world now?
Who replaced me?
Are you content and enjoying solitude?
Or are you dreaming of a sidekick to fight crime with you?
At midnight, on the roads, when everything looks deserted.
Who agrees with you about looking up at the skies?
These are just some things I had to tell you,
Letters I wrote to you, that may never reach you.
And yet, on another hand, I believe read these you still do.
Yes?
I think you read every note of mine,
Despite what you may claim or lie,
Wishful thinking?
Maybe.
Yes.
It’s my ego that’s keeping me from asking you this straight.
But truth is, I miss our long conversations.
I truly wonder if you miss them too.
Where did you go, my friend?
Why did you leave?
Linking this post to #AtoZChallenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/)


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Voyages That Have Stories To Tell


It was the first time I was travelling in a ship. I was on my way to Andaman and Nicobar, hoping to find a job there. It was late evening and the rocking of the sea wasn’t helping me. I was terribly sea-sick. I was cursing myself for not travelling by a flight instead to the islands.

There was a knock on my cabin’s door. I did not want anyone to see me in my condition, but I wanted a change of sheets on my bed. I opened the door. It was a lady; she seemed to be another passenger.
“I overheard you throw up. I am Mrs Sushila Kumar. I am staying in the cabin next door. I have some pills, if you want.”
I did not realize the walls were so paper thin. She seemed like a kind lady, reminding me of my grandmother – stooping slightly, white-haired, bespectacled.
“Sure! Thank you. Why don’t you come in?” I invited her in.
After taking the pills, she helped me find some housekeeping staff, who cleaned up my mattress. She then sat with me for some time and we had a conversation. She then said, with a little pride and a little blush that one of the things she considers an achievement in life is the fact that someone had written a book about her. It was a love story, of hers and the author’s. However, fate had other plans and they had to go their separate ways. She told me the title of the book. I gasped!
“That was written by my grandfather!”
For a minute, we both could not believe what a coincidence it was that we were sitting there in the cabin and talking about the little things in our lives! Then she embraced me, asked me about my grandfather, about my parents. We spoke some more. It was quite late by the time she decided to go back to her cabin. 
We arrived at Port Blair the next day and I never saw her afterwards.

********************************************************

Three years later, I sat in a library while researching for some material for my next book. I requested for copies of some old newspapers. While going through the yellowed sheets of a newspaper from about seven years ago, my eyes caught a glimpse of a familiar face. It was a photograph, in the obituary.
“Sushila Kumar, aged 67…” the rest of the lettering blurred before my eyes as I suddenly felt faint. Seven years ago. And I had met her just three years ago.

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Uncertainty, Insecurity… And Trust


My mind refused to speak
Stubbornly it remained like a blank page
Like a starless sky
The waiting was costing me my sanity
I knew not how long it would take
But I was sure you would call me up and cry
What words did I have to console your weeping heartbeats?
What advice did life give me that I would offer you to take?
What good was hiding the truth when foiled were all your lies?
Being smothered by uncertainty
Above me, I was holding on to a lightning blade,
Licking my toes were hell fires.
My head was throbbing with insecurity,
The devil in my mind fought a jealous crusade,
He pierced my heart and was holding it upon a pyre.
Trust remained the open door, the one and only
Trust remained my comfort to take,
There would be no hurt; this will pass, it’s just a trial.
Linking this post to #AtoZChallenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/)