I am now absolutulely comfortable in writing stories, but that was not so before. This I have gained after almost a half century of struggle. The struggle was not to be found anywhere out there but inside of me. The struggle to reach a conclusion as to why take those endless hours of time, energy and effort to fill blank spaces of paper or a monitor screen to populate it with characters who are only phantoms in your imagination, why take the pain to weave a story through their interactions and conversations and why not just surrender to your natural inertia and indolence and put down your pen or typewriter and just sleep or relax ? The invitation of the sleeping couch or switching on to the T.V. for a readymade entertaintainment served for you on a platter as it were is perennial to every writer, especially more so to those who like me write for a purely nonpecuniary medium where even the incentive of money is not there to hold interest. And above all, the greatest of all dampeners is why take the trouble to write stories with so many words to just demonstrate that we all are One, one life, one love, one heart, one truth and why not just write these few words like so many do in FB and be done with it? As one of my dearest friends Julia confesses, “How to write when everything dissolves (into one of those words I just mentioned), so every second or third sentence ends with the same words? The book disappears as quickly as it is written.” I love those Koan like short poems, those haikus full of wisdom, those short and pithy epigrammatic lines and quotations but my inner child also sometimes demands a regular kind of story,or a fable or a parable where good is pitted against bad, innocent and vulnerable pitted against powers of dark.

With this background, having to come forward and stake one’s neck out in the field of creative writing is a brave or foolish venture depending on the inclination, attitude and perspective of each individual writer. I have finally chosen to go full steam in that direction after a life time of struggle with the demons I mentioned above. What clinched the issue, in my case, in favor of expression and unfolding of story after story is what I am going to write in this essay. For a long time in my life, after may be I entered into my teens say at fiftten, I was a pessimist. The one question I couldn’t solve was why was I born ? What would have happenned if I had never been born ? From this question it was just a few steps ahead to encounter the ultimate question,” What would have happened if the world and the universe had never happened and if they happened what would happen if they die and disappear now ?” These questions repeatedly came to my mind and took away all peace and happiness from my life. I was on the brink but the final push into the chasm of despair came when at the age of seventeen a friend gave me a book named “Of Human Bondage” by W.S.Maugham. I lapped up the book as I had never done any book before. The book just held me in thrall and confirmed all my homespun passimistic ideas, all my desperate questionings in such powerful language, through the unfolding of a story, that I was literally drowned in despair and meaninglessness of my existence, in fact all existence. I was more or less in that lifeless, moribund state for the next two or three decades. From hindsight, from today’s vantage point I suspect that a forced but inevitable separation from a girl I so dearly loved when I was eight, the episode which I have described in some bare detail in my story “The first love of my life”, may have sown this seed of despair and meaninglessness of life in me in such a large measure.

For the next three decades I was to read many books, attend many satsangs and spiritual gatherings and also indulge and splurge in many kinds of distractions and orgies to get out from the vice like grip of this depression and sense of meaninglessness in life. I came to know the hell in life intimately because I have been there for a long long time. Those who once cast their glance into that abysmal chasm are sucked into it and rare is he who comes out of it . I am one such fortunate being and I lived to tell the tale how it felt when one was there at the bottomless pit. I take it as a mission of my life. My mission is not to speak of despair but to speak of love, the lack of which, I discovered, was the cause of all despair,despondency and meaninglessness in life. Not that I only lacked love in life but also I reflected no love back to the universe which was all the time sending that to me in the form of people,animals,birds,rains,sunshines,colors and sounds etc but I didn’t have the eyes to see, ears to listen and heart to feel. But I was not without eyes,ears or heart; only I was not using them, I was not giving them freedom to function the way they were meant to be. I was in a mode of extreme contraction and they were made to be expansive. I was afraid to love and they were raring to love. How could I get peace and happiness from such an unaligned and mismatched state ? Without the sunshine of love my inner being was withering and here I was finding fault with universe and its maker whereas the cause remained deeply lodged in me only.

Now I know Love is health,wealth, truth, beauty, meaning and everything. Now I am despondent no more. In fact, I am inoculated, as it were, against all despair and meaninglessness. I see a great purpose, a cause, a meaning operating everywhere. So much so that, contrary to all my decades of ravings and rantings at various podia and fora, now I am willing to believe and trust that the world or universe is perfect as it is, not withstanding so much of pain, sufferings, hunger, poverty, squalor in living conditions of so many millions, corruption, graft, war, death etc. It is as if we need a contrast to experience things properly, otherwise we may just look at things but may not be able to see things as they are or see into the heart of things. None would understand the value of good if no bad was there, the value of rest if motion or activity was not there, the value of health if sickness was not there and value of night if day was not there and vice versa. I am reminded of a speech of Osho where he spoke that if you found beggars and deformed lepers in front of all temples of India, showing their fingerless hands or toeless feet to all that came to the temple and supplicating alms from them, he cautioned against thinking them as eyesores,nuisances or out of place; they were there for a purpose. They supplied,according to him, mysteriously and unaccountably, the necessary contrast without which the templegoers’ faith and devotion perhaps won’t have been so earnest and expedient. It is the sight of the deformed and limbless that makes us grateful for as simple a boon as having a body with no limbs lost.

Previously coruptions and scams in public life in my country, India, used to upset me so much that I used to plunge into severe depression at the breaking of news of a new scam. As there were and still are galores of scams involving billions of Rupees of public money, my days of recovering back to normalcy were few and far between. Depression became my normal mode of living. But now I am a completely changed man. Corruptions have reached sky high and scams of such large magnitude are happening that earlier ones seem peanuts in comparision, but my mental peace is not broken. I have now seen God’s ways of doing things and how perfect and inexorable they are ! Who can deny how inexorably but surely the public opinion of Indian masses have turned livid against the scamsters and their patrons ? Would Anna hazare and Baba Ramdev have got the attention and adulation of the masses if there were no 2G scams, CWG scam or Adarsh scam ? I take Lalu Yadavs, A.Rajas and Suresh Kalmadis as forming necessary contrasts so that we realise the worth and value of probity,decency and integrity in public life. God’s ways appear slow to us but while He thinks in terms of billion of years we can think only in short term. For Him there is no hurry, eternity is His time. Understanding His ways and operations from our limited view point of a few decades is an exercise in futility. By loving Him and putting our trust in His ways we would also gain the required patience. After all what is depression but incapacity to be patient ? And what is impatience but incapacity to trust ? When you trust you are patient and free from depression. In Him I trust now.

Here I am reminded why I had set out to write this piece about why I write stories. Stories deal with people and their situations, ideas, beliefs, opinions, desires, expectations, hopes and thus lead inevitably to conflicts, clashes and in short contrasts.The One has become many. The Nondual has expressed Itself in dualities and multiplicities, in many colors and many forms. It is His pure play,His way of experiencing things throgh His creations. If He were just Unmanifested Pure Potentiality, then there would be no creation with myriad forms. But as He has chosen to manifest Himself through forms, colors and contrasts so that we can understand Him better, be aware of Him more vividly and intimately even through the shroud and illusion of separateness, so also He lets Himself captured by the esemplastic imagination of poets, writers, artists etc. As long as God’s show on earth continues His stories will be told and retold, afterall all stories are just variations of the same theme, His Love and His Glory. Story tellers only highlight Love by contrasting with hate or fear, make bold and prominent His glory by contrasting it with man’s vanity and self-obsession and too much fuss over me-mine-thoughts. I hope I am on the right path and in good company.