At times, I would get this urge to write something. In the middle of the day or during the night when I lay awake, this urge would hit me. Ideas and thoughts would then float through my mind, and I would long to capture them in prose, afraid that if I let go; they will be lost forever. In these moments, I would feel that my mind is churning out beautiful though unrelated streams of consciousness, which I somehow have to weave together into a coherent whole. But here a paradox would cloud my mind. For, if I have to give my thoughts a free rein, my mind would run here and there; and those transient feelings, for want of a proper direction, would turn into a half-completed mess. But if I restrict myself to a single thought, wouldn’t that be self-defeating in its own way, for then I would be cheating on my own spontaneity and originality (or the lack of it). This paradox stems from the fact that I lack patience and discipline to hold onto a single line of thought for long. Often, when I try to connect to that inner voice, I would find too many responses coming back. Suppose one day I am reading a travel book and the way a particular place is described strikes me, I would then want to pen a travelogue of my own. But even before my mind can give shape to that thought, my heart will lose interest midway and fly away somewhere else. And that cycle will repeat. I have often debated with myself about the need to feel strongly about a subject long enough to give it shape, but more often than not, my patience has worn out. It is at these moments that I feel I cannot be a writer of any significance. I wonder if all the great writers, when they began as novices, felt like this. And hence, I have decided to name this article ‘GENTLE MUSINGS’ for they are nothing more but some jumbled lines of consciousness that I have collated somehow from that confusing abyss called my mind.
The breakout area* in my ninth-floor office has a large glass pane that looks out onto a tiny canal of liquid industrial waste. A pipe runs through the length of the nearby road, which then empties itself into the canal. Early in the morning when the dawn is yet to break, if I happen to be in office, I would sometimes come to the breakout area and gaze outside. With coffee in one hand, as I see the early morning waste fill up the canal, I would imagine it to be a river with a dam on it, which has just been opened. Then, far away on the distant horizon as I see the sun making its slow ascent against the morning sky, a lonely bird, cutting across the face of the still dim sun, would catch my eyes. Sometimes I would catch my own reflection in the glass and the image would feel just like a rainbow against the backdrop. The insect-trail made by the early morning joggers would complete the picture and I would long to capture the moment in words or pixels. Sometimes when I am sitting in the canteen and one of my colleagues is describing one of his recent escapades; I would look out the window and get lost.
Now, when I think of my graduation days, the picture that comes to mind leaves me with a sense of longing. Perhaps this is the same feeling of huzun (Turkish for ‘melancholy’) that Orhan Pamuk meant when he was talking about Istanbul, the city of his birth and the home of his imagination. I still remember those late-night bike rides at full steam, getting up late and roaming the streets without any particular sense of direction. Back then, Shakespeare and Byron existed only in literature books and it was booze and fags that gave a perspective to our thoughts. If college and books took our daytime then it was partying and late night discussions that consumed our nights. Even now, as I am writing this down, I can still see the long lazy nights when we had huddled up together on the bed discussing topics ranging from politics to the sexual revolution. Sometimes I just lie on my bed and wonder. I wonder at all those moments, which have passed me by. All those moments which will never come back again no matter what I do and where I go from now. Its amazing how time just flies when you are not listening to its hands ticking.......................
Often, when I am in one of those depressing moods, I would try to think of the things that make me happy............ I like listening to the soft snoring sound made by my girlfriend when she falls asleep on the other end of the phone. I like the early morning dew sitting on leaves, windowpane of my room. I like walking the streets late at night with my friends when the silence is pin-drop and the only sound you hear is the occasional dog howling from somewhere nearby. I like traveling overnight in a tourist bus to an unknown destination. Then, very early in the morning when the bus stops near a roadside dhaba, I would get down to relieve myself in the nearby fields. Later, sitting on the wooden-bench of a nearby tea stall, I like sipping hot boiling tea with cigarette in hand. I like watching people gesturing to each other from a distance and the animated disco that they make. I like sitting idly with my friends on a hot Saturday afternoon and complain about ‘all the exciting things we could have done today rather than just sit here’. Sometimes, late at night, when sleep fails me, I like crawling up to my mother’s side of the bed and whispering in her ear, “Are you sleeping, Ma?” if only to wake her up.
Sometimes, after a few days of stay at my relatives or friends, I have not failed to notice that the place has slowly turned into a mess, coincidentally from the time that I set foot on their humble abode. As that very someone has gone about pretending polite acceptance of this fate, I have not failed to realize my own doing in it. I am not trying to ‘rub it in’ in the hope that ‘that someone’ will be reading this one day and see the well-meaning person that I am. But, yes I am trying to gently make him or her realize that I am like that only and that nobody is perfect, so basically it’s ok if I come to your house and mess up the furniture a bit!
I have often found myself to be bored in office meetings and year-end appraisal sessions. There sitting around an imposing table, as my boss prepared to go on with his well-rehearsed speech, I have often wondered ‘what’s the use in all these?’ Its not that I have not tried to fit into the role that I am in or do justice to the responsibilities that I carry. I have got my share of above-average and average ratings, which, I think, validates my belief that I have succeeded in playing the part in atleast bits and parts. For its not that I have any misgivings about the concept of work and its importance in human existence. Its just that the idea of office that has come to be seems so constrained, as if it survives only to seep your energy and turn you into a dull nine-to-five machine. I have problems with the officious-looking sofa in the reception-area, I have problems with the hot-looking receptionist who greets everyone with a practiced smile and forgets all about him the moment he passes by. I don’t like the spic-n-span look of the floor; I don’t like the busy-bodies that employees almost always try to cut when they are walking down its carpet. I don’t like the entry and exit time-logs that you are expected to follow once inside the office.