I could write anywhere. In crowded local trains in Mumbai, in moving cars, in outdoor cafes with streets abuzz, in small eateries with pungent curry smells, in sickness and in health, while standing up waiting, while lying down, I could scrawl words in the air, on walls, on paper, on keyboard, in the mind. I could do it because thoughts raced ahead of me, beckoning like a rare species of flower that had healing powers. I could never understand writer’s block even as my wrists and back ached and my neck did a little dance to soothe the muscles.
Much of my book was written as my haemoglobin count teetered between six and seven. When it reached 7.5, I celebrated.
Today, I can still write in places unheard of, perhaps under the bed or jumping on a trampoline – oh, yes, I did also write on the treadmill, shaky letters formed with more urgency than was required – and it is a ceaseless need. I am not changing the world; I am making a difference to myself, my somnolence. It is selfish and self-obsessive. It is not even fair sometimes because I manage to get an audience. I am asked, “So, when will you write about this and that?” And I think it matters. I usually wait it out because I know that things alter, events are not shaped by accidents but renewal.
I rarely watch the news on TV these days because I will want to say something. I read a news item and I want to say something. I listen to people and I want to say something. I look at eyes and I want to pierce into them. A fragrance whiffs past and I want the scent on my skin. I hear a sound and I want it to resonate in my head. It is a junkie situation as Japan-MiddleEast-Libya-America-India-Afghanistan-Pakistan-Taliban-Terrorism-Dalit-Women-Gender-Kidnappings-Corruption-Politics-Research studies-Sexuality all toss and tumble across the horizon and I want to say something. If I don’t, then there are withdrawal symptoms.
One only hopes that I am not just barking in the winds.
These past few days, together with all these thoughts, there is another one. For the first time in my life, I want to write in silence. I want a space where the car honking in the lane below does not intrude, where the telephone does not ring, where no one is at the door, where my mind is clear of its own clutter.
I began imagining this ideal place with grass underfoot, a gentle breeze blowing and a sole bird singing quietly as I sat on the floor with a laptop on a low table looking out at a clear sky. The clouds moved quietly. And as they parted I saw a face. It was the face of Muammar Gaddafi and I started hitting the keys, the noises outside adding to the force of words!
It seems I might need to blank out the sky as well. My writer's retreat?