Friday, April 9, 2010

The Story that never flew away

On a late evening train, in the middle of flickering lights and dim shadows, senseless aspirations and impossible dreams, subtle rhythm and repeating groans…the ignited cognition had scribbled its first attempts of fiction on a blank paper:

“The feel of the leaves of the pomegranate tree sent a feeling of strange happiness through me. I was in the pomegranate orchard, all by myself – away from my impatient mother. I sat under the tree although the young tree did not provide much shade. How long I sat there – I did not know because soon I had drifted into a deep sleep, away from the bitter events of my life.”

It was one of my first stories. I was fourteen.

Imagination was young, and alive. The heart was untouched by thoughts more confounding than pure wonder. Why I wrote the story, I do not know….but I would have probably allowed the whimsical tale scribbled on cheap paper to flap away with the winds. It would have been another incomplete thought, wasted emotion escaping through the window of the train into the yawning void if my mother hadn’t persuaded me to hand it over to her.

I looked away, ashamed to show my face to her as she scanned my beginning struggles with story writing. Thoughts that had been trapped within my mind were staring at the world through the rusty windows of a speeding train. When I worded them, it was some form of insane liberation. But that knowledge was supposed to have been my little secret.

To be honest, I never regarded my stories in a favorable light. I wrote them to pass the time. And then mindlessly threw them out of my brain or available open windows. I made them paper-planes, allowing them to fly to heights that I believed my words could never reach. That story should have been discarded.

But it had passed many hands instead. Several eyes read through them.

I was the girl who imagined vigorously, but always allowed it to die down. I never considered my thoughts worthy of an intelligent audience, because they sounded so bland and ordinary….even to me. Being the highly de-motivated, self-involved and hesitant high-schooler, I assumed that life would always throw my stories out its window…..unheard, unvoiced, and unnoticed.

Unworthy of attention.

When the author herself rejected her own words, carelessly dismissing them, who else would find them more appealing?
But a phone call had come, with the warmest sort of encouragement I have ever received for the story that should have flown away….If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be writing this 100th post today.

This 100th post wouldn’t have happened if my grandfather hadn’t praised a pathetic attempt at fiction by an unsure, hesitant teenager who hid all her imagination in the last few pages of school note books, and the back of her fantasizing mind.

Stories would have been voiceless, mute and ordinary…if not for the magic that ignited the writing fingers.

That magic, I’ll call faith.

His faith in me. My parent’s encouragement. Silent stimulants. Blogging has changed me, in more ways than one. It has become part of who I am. It's become my story.

It has 100 chapters to it today. I never thought it’d grow to such proportions. An Amateur’s Attempts is the creative oasis where the anecdotes that should have swept away, the secret notebook pages that should have fragmented in paper mills….have been safeguarded.

They have found voice. And a very appreciative audience. Thank you all.
I’m glad for my blog….my respite, my oasis, my identity. This blog is like my little beanstalk...a growing strand of an evolving thought process...cherishing, remembering and chewing on all that has been, is or will ever be...and I am extremely indebted to my readers.

The teenager who didn’t know how to talk wrote these three years ago:

"I have been labeled as a girl who doesn’t talk, and that is a natural trait of mine. Or I was labeled so. You see, this girl is talking. She can now talk through her writing; she is finding new means to express herself. I have realized how deeply there was a need for me to talk, and all those emotions, thoughts, feelings that I had bottled up, memories that I had stored over the years are pouring out. I am not the same girl anymore—something is changing, it is something that is very difficult to define….."

Back then, I didn’t know what I was………or who I was going to be.
Much of that still hasn’t changed. The truth uttered that day by my frank immaturity still holds.

I still don’t completely understand why I feel such a great need to write.

But all I know is that it allows it to let go and set something free. It allows me to express like never before. It allows me to become different people---The shy dreamer who regards the world in quiet wonder, a sensitive adolescent who turns irrationally emotional, the pseudo-philosopher when completive, and a frenzied poet who is overcome by a maniac enthusiasm to play with language….and often the casual writer who simply translates feelings to words.

It allows it to be……me.

(Thank you for reading the stories that would have flown away. Thanks for all the support, love and encouragement. Special thanks to GVK sir for so whole-heartedly making me a member of MBP. And of course, everybody on Mysore Blog Park for being so supportive! A warm thanks to all of you!)

Thursday, April 1, 2010


She would come every day with her brows furrowed deep, looking thirsty and resolute. Brown wrinkled skin that had slogged incessantly under the Indian sun for many summers, a stooping aged frame that shook to her mercurial tempers….receding white hair that she was obnoxious enough to colour an abnormally thick boot-polish black with cheap dye when she managed some extra money....that was Lakshamma for me.

She faught with my brother all the time.

It would start with a thump. Dropping the broom to the floor, she would proceed to argue in her throaty high-decibel squeak. I would leave them to it, knowing that it would conclude sooner or later. Sure enough, she would stomp out of the room irritated, her small frame shaking to her temperamental tantrums. My cheeky brother’s continuous stream of harsh criticisms were what caused this. They would constantly irk her to no end. She would show her anger on the broom, sweeping in a maniac frenzy, her ageing frame bending over.

Lakshamma was never impeccable in her chores---a fact that she wouldn't accept even if the evidence stared at her right in the face. There was coarseness to her shabby work, completed with hasty impatience. She was the busy-bee who always has too much to handle on her stooping shoulders and she never cared enough but to reply with a very blatant “no” if we occasionally complained about the quality of her work. Of course, her work wasn’t anything exciting, she never received promotions. Lakshamma was just the typical housemaid—tough, quick with a mercurial temper, shabby, hasty and gruff.

But nothing I’ve ever seen is more beautiful than the innocent heart of hers.

She was the somebody that had never grown out of childhood. Happily unaffected by the complex chaos that was the world, she had developed into a very pure-minded individual with clean hands. Her mind held the same childlike wonder towards the world…..although she never made any sincere attempt to learn. There would forever be that curious kid in her--- the one who looked at vehicles as marvels, and who didn’t know why aero planes flew or how many continents there were. For her, the world was just a very big puzzle not worth solving. She would admire from afar when god granted her the time. When he didn’t, she would get right back to work, following the bland routine. She would stare at walls and think deeply when we handed her the filter coffee in a steel tumbler. I often wondered what she thought about that much.

It was true life had been unfair to her. Her husband ran away, leaving her to face her world alone. She had seen hard days. And had survived through raw grit and endurance. Life had given her her blows very early and she had accepted the challenges. One thing that stood out about her personality was that she wasn’t the resigned, fatigued spirit who moaned about the injustice in her life. She was ignorant, that is true, but certainly not pessimistic although she had every reason to be. Every single day was survival for Lakshamma. And she knew that she had to work very hard to maintain a crumbling family. Burdened but never submissive to the ways of the world, she would slog under the sun, ignoring the weather. She was a fighter.

I shared my name with Lakshamma. My food. My dreams. I shared a lot. Although she gave me absolutely bizarre advises (like tattooing symbols on my forehead, for example), she sometimes slipped me snippets of her life. I found her a fascinating person to talk to. Her simplistic, honest-on-the-face and gruff habits pleased me in the weirdest of ways. And her antics were even more amusing. I had grown with the house, and Lakshamma has been part of the house ever since I can remember. She, in fact, has been part of my life ever since I can remember as well. She has seen me grow up, but she hasn’t for me. I might grow taller by the inches, but she’ll always look taller to my eyes. Somethings don’t change.

As I unveil my soul scrolls, I see that I have shared quite a bit with this woman---she’s integral to everything that defines home….she somehow has to be there in the background of any significant memory….because she’s always stayed there.

She was my first pillion rider, (that’s a story I would someday share in much more of a detail), and such an amazing flatterer. It was utter delight when I accidentally spotted her walking with those furrowed brows in Hawaii slippers down familiar streets. “There is somebody I know” I would say, if anybody asked. Doing that made me feel warm.

Lakshamma!” I would scream, no matter if she could hear me or not. Acknowledging her presence in my world has always seemed important to me.

Ultimately, my brother’s criticisms weren’t unjust you know. She was inefficient. She was hasty. She was sometimes really stubborn. But she was also somebody who didn’t give up. She was my friend.

I don’t get to meet her often anymore. She doesn’t work for us from the time we moved here. But if I do get to spot her on the streets, I wouldn’t forget to frantically call to my first pillion rider and acknowledge her presence in my life and growing up.

And I know that she’ll turn right back to smile at me, unforrowing her brow with recognition and throw a friendly wave at me before her Hawaii slippers carry her stooping, aged figure into the streets, her mud-caked feet disappearing into the common masses.