A friend once suggested me to take the act and art of writing in this way. He said that the act of writing consisted of committing one’s joys, sorrows, pain and suffering to a piece of paper as a means of expressing oneself. When the confession has been made and the expression has taken place then simultaneously the process of the therapeutic effect of the writing has also started to work on oneself. Then that piece of paper and that act of writing on it have served their purpose.

 

So far I was all ears to his suggestion. Then he gave me an advice which not only surprised me at the audacity of it but also jolted me out of the receptive mode into which I had slowly begun to relax myself. He suggested that when the act of writing has been done then one should simply tear down the piece[s] of paper and throw them into the ocean. He said the ocean by its vastness represented the Existence itself and hence throwing one’s confessional papers into it amounted to submitting or surrendering oneself to the grace and mercy of the divine. I could not accept his view there. I couldn’t simply digest the prospect of so much of one’s labor going waste, without coming to anyone’s use.

 

I know the world won’t be poorer without my writing. I don’t write great, eternal, perennial philosophy; the kind of stuff that claims to weather the changing fashions, fancies of the day. My writings are quite forgettable. If someone doesn’t read any of my writings he will be no worse or poorer for that. Still I couldn’t relish the thought of consigning them to their watery grave in the ocean. I shudder at the thought of what would have happened to us if all the poets, dramatists, authors of the past had heeded to such advices. I also know how those whom we call now as great authors had been treated by their contemporary reviewers at the start of their writing carrier. In fact, I had once read a whole book consisting of collections of such articles. There I had found how such a great poet as Keats was once advised by a reviewer to quit writing poetry and go back to his study of medicines instead. I was amazed to find that almost none, however great subsequently one was declared, was spared almost this kind of advices. It is good that few took heed of them.

 

So I didn’t throw my writings into the ocean as suggested by the friend, I consigned them to the ocean of Facebook instead. It was almost like throwing your papers into the ocean, but first after securing them inside some bottles under water tight lids. That way they would float in the ocean and reach unknown distant shores and stand a chance to be of some use to someone somewhere. The uses they will be put to may not be of very great value to anyone. But who knows someone somewhere may find some piece exactly right for him to spend an idle hour and entertain himself with just as others’ writings have entertained me. Just as from one candle some other candles are lit, so also writings of one, even like me, may inspire some others. Who knows miraculously, by chance, I could be the inspiration for some others as some have already been my inspirations. Therein may lay the purpose and the end of my writing.

 

The act of writing also is not without its mystery. I have observed it repeatedly that it is not always the friends whom you had sent or tagged your articles to are your best reviewers or commentators. Sometimes you have the best and most pertinent comments from a completely new reader. But that reader too cannot be taken for granted. Sometimes he may disappear altogether from your page  like a comet. Often he gives place to someone else in your next article so far as giving you the most valuable insight or input is concerned. It is as if each article or story, if it is a genuine one, brings with it its own readers. There will be some who will be deeply touched by it whereas from some others it may only elicit lukewarm responses. The whole process is as mysterious as the workings of the human heart. Therefore, I pay heed to my heart and hope that I listen accurately to its beats, its hopes and fears, its agonies and ecstasies; because if I decipher that correctly then I stand a fair chance of touching and connecting to many others. There is no other better guide. The heart is also a lonely hunter, but it hunts its quarries the best. Its quarries are the other hearts; it doesn’t kill, it makes the others vibrate to its beats and thereby forms a firmer bond with the others. It makes us one, helps us in forming relationships and joins us into family like livable and viable units.

 

Paying heed to the workings of the heart and its beats only led me to undertake some ambitious projects and explore some hitherto uncharted territories. One of my most ambitious projects was to write at length about some of my villagers who at some time or the other worked in my father’s farm as daily laborers. They had such memorable personalities and entertaining traits that I used to spend much time with them and their children who were my best friends. I had wanted to bring them alive from the house of the dead by writing such word pictures of them that readers are also able to connect with and feel them as I feel. I had also hoped that with the successful execution of the project I will be able to immortalize a piece of rural India which may soon pass into oblivion. I had read somewhere that so long as someone was vividly and lovingly remembered even by a single human being then that person was really not dead; he had an equally valid existence as the others even if only in the mind of someone. In this spirit I wrote the first installment “Life in the jaws of death” and hoped to continue the project. But that was not to be. It required so much dedication and concentration and my domestic family life was so hellish and hostile to my creativity. So I had to take a halt. I can’t say that I have abandoned the project. It is ever so dear to my heart. I don’t know whether I will ever be able to resume and complete this project. In the meanwhile I only wish that the canopy of sanity and good sense may stretch and envelope within it the women folks living in my household. The world is too much with them. May they not be blinded by the glare and garishness of the crude materialism and consumerism surrounding them.       

 

Also in this adventurous spirit I wrote a series of three or four stories, beginning with “The woman who would dance only to the tune of her heartbeats”. I knew many of my friends-cum-readers so far would forsake me for good for it was not in their taste to read on such bold themes dealing with such intimate matters. But still I wrote. The best responses came, as usual, from the “rank outsiders’’, completely new readers. Of course, a few very rare friends stayed and even welcomed such experimentations. I am honored to have such friends many of whom are very good writers themselves.

 

So my casting away of my writings in the ocean of blogosphere was a decision I have never regretted. I am happy when someone reads my stories and let me know of his or her responses. It has been an unspeakable joy always to discover someone vibrating in the similar wavelength as yours. I consider that to be the most rewarding thing in this writing profession which is otherwise very lonely. Being alone and enjoying the state of being alone are the marks of a contemplative man. Even 2500 years ago Buddha had said that if one didn’t find good company to mix with then it was better to stay or work alone than suffer the company of fools. Even the compassion of such a great legendarily compassionate man stopped short at associating oneself with the fools. That couldn’t be without reasons. He knew that one’s diligent work with oneself towards nirvana might be compromised.      That is the price one has to pay. Even upbraiding from a wise man is to be preferred to praises from a fool. But otherwise also, speaking from a writer’s point of view, how can one listen to the music of the heart and the still, somber voice of the humanity if one is never left alone or always keeps himself surrounded by all sorts of company? So loving oneself and being comfortable with one’s own company is almost a prerequisite for being a good writer. The best reader of my stories is myself too. If I can’t like my stories how can others? I read them for countless times, always after some intervals. That way I am able to spot their shortcomings and very often make corrections and do the needful for further improvements. It is an ongoing endless process. The much sought after perfection is never reached.      

 

Sometimes people just read and leave the page without leaving any comments. I honor the wishes of the readers as they would like to have their surfing experiences to be. I only wish I could touch many hearts and be of some use to them. For that I need to be even a better listener, with very little egoistic cravings and tendencies of my own to come between my ears and the workings of my heart and the heartbeats. Listening is such a great art and such pure joy. Let all my readers experience that joy in abundant measures.

Buddha said, “Everyone must work diligently for one’s salvation.” He meant thereby that there is no miracle, no savior to save you. You will be saved by your own effort. I feel listening to one’s heart and the hearts around oneself is sufficient for saving oneself, which again means being humble and free to a great extent from the egotistical rumbles of desires, cravings and the unconscious tendencies arising in the mind. The rumbles from an elephant’s belly can be heard from the outside and so also that of one’s ego if one listens carefully. Let us be heedful of that rumble always before it turns into a full-fledged explosion. Sometimes just being attentive and heedful is sufficient to nip a desire in the bud. I can’t say how many countless childish desires have been nipped in the buds within me by going straight into books and spending innumerable hours in their pages. It pains me very deeply when these same books of mine are torn to pieces almost daily by two women of my household to whom, wonder of all wonders, the sight of books is anathema. Equally baffling to them is my responses to their beloved gold, silver, diamond, costly costumes and property. I am least interested in these things. But being outnumbered and alone in my own house my income goes to finance their insatiable childish fancies and whims because they have no income of their own. My meager income always falls short and they take revenge on my beloved books that I have collected since my childhood. Strange is the way of the world!

 

One of my fondest memories was a moonlit evening when I was eight and reading in class three. My grandfather had gone to the nearest small town nine kilometers away to buy one bullock for the farm. I had requested him to buy for me one short story book in Oriya which was prescribed in the course for non-detailed study for my class. Lest he might forget the name of the book I had written it on a piece of paper and kept it in his pocket. He had set for the town at nine in the morning in his bicycle accompanied with a laborer to bring the bullock home. It was already eight in the evening. Of all the people in the household I was the only one acutely missing and waiting for him. I was pacing outside the house in the day like moonlit night and growing restless by the minute. When he finally arrived everyone ran to him to see the bullock coming after him. In a purely agricultural economy, which our household was, the importance of a draught bullock was great. But I ran to him for a completely different reason; I was dying to have that story book which I was afraid that he might have forgotten altogether. I didn’t trust adults and their strange matter of fact world in which strange valuations and priorities existed. Not long before I had lost Runu for ever due to the machinations of this adult world which strangely insisted that she belonged to her parents and so must remain with them and not with me. I couldn’t understand how someone who was inseparable from me for a week since we had met could belong to someone else and not me. Anyway, with considerable trepidations in my heart with mixed emotions of hope and fear as I asked my grandfather if he had brought my book, he fished out the book from his shirt pocket dangling by his side and handed me the book. The book’s slightly glossy picturesque cover shined brightly in the moonlight like a mirror and with it I was suddenly filled up with an indescribable ecstasy the like of which I had rarely experienced. I didn’t part for a moment from that book throughout that night. Under a kerosene lamp I read that book from cover to cover with such joy that would be envy for a king. That night for the first time I felt proud for the action of an adult, my grandfather. Otherwise in the normal course of things as they happened in the adult world my slip of paper containing the name of the book would have been safely and easily forgotten and trampled under the more pressing need for the bullock. Because my grandfather didn’t forget to bring the book for me amidst all his adult priorities and duties he remained a lovable figure for me since that day till his last. Ten years later when he was admitted to a hospital twenty kilometers away from our home for treatment of his disease which was later diagnosed as liver sclerosis and stayed there for four months till he breathed his last I remained with him by his bedside as his sole companion, attendant, nurse, washer man of his clothes which he soiled sometimes etc. rolled into one. I had been constantly thinking throughout that ordeal that I was repaying a debt I owed to him since that day he had brought that story book for me and made me the happiest person in the world.

 

I had never imagined then that this world also consisted of human beings who got pleasure out of tearing to pieces someone’s beloved books. Let’s see what else nightmarish view this so called God-made world decides to show me. For me it is more important to know that even if there is only one individual in the world who has experienced a few moments of joy at reading any of my stories, my labor of writing it has not gone in vain. I wish to transmit that joy which I have often experienced from reading books. Those that worship gold, money and property and get joys out of tearing my books think they know better.  For me it is totally irrational.

 

Let me finish this article with a briefest statement of my philosophy of life even though the great Buddhist logician Nagarjuna said we cannot make any statement about life of which its opposite is not also equally true. I think all my stories and articles are elucidations of this philosophy only. Some of you may agree with it and some of you may not. But for me this is it.

There is no God. So let us help and cheer each other. The world has always consisted of and will continue to consist of both book lovers and book burners or tearers. Even if your reading and writing will not change anyone, read and write anyway.                

 

        

  

         

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