July 4, 2008

the whirlpools in life

the thief

left behind

the moon by the window.

i used to collect zen koans during one of my many lifetimes. for no apparent reason today, while i was reading and thinking in a small corner of my mind, that i need to get back to this journal – like i have many times in the past few months – this koan suddenly popped up in my head. it summarises somewhat, all that happened when i had not been writing…

sometimes when we are in the flow of life, everything that is happening around us – and to us – takes place so fast, and so much happens so quickly that we forget what started the whirlpool in the first place. sometimes, it is just a single thought.

i want to write.

every day, in between attending athri (who is now all of 19 months and revealing his true toddler-colours) and the household chores, and the day job-from-home at techworld.com: editing articles and features about secure storage devices, wi-fi, 802.11n, wireless networks; finding out about web 2.0 and how it would work for the website, digg-ing, stumbling and reddit-ing articles, i began to get restless. storage and network devices, is this what i really enjoy reading about? i loved thursdays, when i could get on the tube towards my office and read. read anything not related to dull, lifeless technology that stripped all the words and literature off my life. novels, short stories, anywhere that i could escape into, for 35 minutes, one-way. the work increased, and so did my restlessness. i just wanted to write.

i decided, at one point, to enter any writing contest that i would come across online, just for the sake of writing. i entered three. while i was at it, i enrolled on a creative writing phd. the contests came and went. the phd process began, but i still wasn’t writing.

the day job was boring yes, but it brought in a salary. would i write if i let go of it? i wasn’t sure. i just wanted to write.

and then who looks after the house? it’s not a big house, but it’s our home. i like a bright home, well-arranged, even if the mess athri creates everyday can be overlooked. but i find it difficult to think of something to write when there are clothes to be washed, dry ones to be folded and kept inside the wardrobes, a sinkful of dirty dishes, the carpet to be vacuum-cleaned…and so i chose the house. praveen helped: we re-arranged furniture so athri’s toys had a neat hiding-place when he went to bed, put all the cables and clutter out of sight, but i still couldn’t get myself to write.

i requested for a flexible work option, knowing fully well that two days off work still meant a distant probability of me getting a few words down without being distracted by something else again. i was getting desperate now. i wanted to read and read. and i wanted to write.

one of the contest results came through. the penguin one. i had taken a day off in april to write this one. i’d held emotional gun-points to four heads, my friends’, asking them to go through the four drafts of 4000-words each that i had hurriedly cooked up in three days, before the final deadline. and it had paid off… i was going to be published! so i could write, if i forced myself to do it. and i had loved it. every minute of that writing until i sealed the envelope and sent it along. my heart thumped with joy that perhaps this is what i really wanted to do. i simply wanted to write.

faster, faster. i could sense that something, someone was pushing me in some direction, but there was nothing to hold on to. the email from penguin made me realise that my life’s whirlpool had begun to churn…

then last month, i was made redundant. the company was going web 2.0, and they didn’t need a sub-editor. i wasn’t sure of how to react…suddenly, for a job that i so often put athri and my writing aside, i was not wanted. on the other hand, i was free to write. now i could focus on my phd.

“now don’t spend time on the house,” praveen reminded me all along, “concentrate on writing, write anything. remember you have a journal?” he teased.

“it’s such a lovely house,” i argued. the long corridor running across the middle, the arcs opening out to the stairs and bright windows that always made it so pleasant to stay in, the large kitchen leading to the small balcony-railing, waiting to sprout flowers that we just planted for the summer… “how can anyone not have to spend time on a house, if it has to be well-kept?”

but it was not helping me in writing. ten days ago, we received another notice. we would have to move, give up the house. we were tenants, and the house-owner wanted it back.

we found another yesterday. it is minus a corridor. a compact house, like a man minus his neck. it has a small kitchen, enough to fill our hearts and stomachs. and it doesn’t have a fireplace or arcs to hang my torans from. but it is bright and it is practical, and hopefully, i will not fall in love with it.

maybe now i should be able to write.

the whirlpool in my life. the moon by the window. i think now, maybe it was that single thought.

ps: thank you asha. your many emails have set my words free :-)