I started writing because I got tired of waiting to be heard.
Have you ever tried talking when you are with a group of women? It’s like waiting for a customer care executive to attend to your call. They’ll keep telling you how important your call is but make you wait till you’ve achieved the impossible, like grown a beard.
So I did the obvious—I started scribbling my thoughts, safe in the knowledge that the middle of my sentence will not be interrupting the beginning of someone else’s. I was convinced of my mediocrity and took refuge in self-deprecating humour, the best defence tactic. It’s a lot like predictive input—before someone else can even start making fun of you, you jump in and do it on their behalf.
These days I have graduated to making fun of others and often get made fun of instead. Like when I write about our childlike love for cows or the government’s passion for bans, I get suggestions for alternative employment like soliciting for customers on streets of disrepute or I am asked to relocate to Pakistan.
Why they think I am a moron
I write because it gives me a sense of purpose. But, in India, when you try to tell your friends and relatives that you’d rather pursue your passion than engage yourself in the futile pursuit of earning money in a nine-to-five job, you’re treated like a moron.
What do you do for a living?
Oh, I blog.
Scenario 1—If, by some stroke of luck, they do happen to know what a blog is
They: Hehehe… Isn’t blogging just graffiti with punctuation?
Me: [Trying to smile with clenched teeth]
They: Does it pay? How much?
Me: [Oh god; are they now going to ask how many bedrooms my apartment has!]
They: You must be recently unemployed. If I had so much time I’d be blogging too.
Me: [Still trying to smile with clenched teeth.]
Scenario 2—They have no idea what a blog is, which is almost always the case
They: [deafening silence], [brows furrowed in confusion], [an awkward laugh], [shuffling of feet], [tentative “wow!”]
Me: I think I’ll go and die.
Then there are those who read your blog.
Thankfully, there exists a populace that reads your blog. You readily believe them when they say you are the best thing to have happened since butter chicken. Sadly, they will also insist that you’re wasting your talent on a blog and ask you to waste it on a magazine or a newspaper instead! [Now you know why I am writing for Complete Wellbeing]
Writing a book is considered a natural extension to a blogger’s life. Three popular posts later, you get tired of saying “no” to all your well-wishers eagerly waiting for you to write a best-seller. It’s a lot like what a Mom to a single child faces. She wastes all her fertile life telling the world and its aunt that she has no interest in siring another child!
Fan “males” and fan base
Once your blog gains some readership and a reasonable amount of popularity, you see a sudden spurt of newly formed blogs on your Facebook newsfeed. You realise your writing has managed to inspire your friends and relatives in a “if she can write, I can write too” way. You start getting fan mails, a few of them from love struck males. They usually gather momentum after you’ve written about busts and butts and the Bengali woman’s love for sleeveless blouses. Men are such simple creatures. When a woman writes about the female anatomy, they promptly imagine hers.
Peculiarly, your friends start claiming that they have met your fans who swear by your writing. For some strange reason, you’ve yet to meet any such fan. A few years later, you’ve won a couple of awards. You have thousands of followers on Twitter. You’ve become so famous that your opinions, your style of writing, your feminist leanings get trashed regularly. You start fancying yourself as a celebrity, eagerly waiting to be mobbed by your fans every time you visit a mall or a popular restaurant. You even think of buying a pair of binoculars so you don’t miss the frantic waving of hands that your myopic eyes are missing out. Once I even did the impossible—went up the escalator going down, because I thought I had spotted a flicker of recollection in a lady’s eyes. Alas, you just keep waiting!
I finally did get my fan moment, though, and that too in the distant land of Brisbane. While I was crossing the road, an Indian man stopped me to ask if I was Purba Ray. I looked at him with gratitude-filled eyes and shook his hands furiously in relief, unmindful of honking cars. When I posted about this great achievement on Facebook, my heartless friends insisted he was a stalker.
We want to know that we matter too
The thing is, we all have an overwhelming desire to be relevant. We seek it through our jobs, relationships or interests we pursue. We hope that in some insignificant way we are making a difference in someone’s life—whether it’s a Mom who slaves for hours to fix that perfect meal for her family, a photographer who traverses miles and risks her life to click that perfect shot or a novice completing a cross-country marathon. Just an acknowledgement that my passion for what I do, in some way, may have ignited somebody else’s desire to do something significant, eggs me on to work harder. I guess this is the reason we have Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day or even Boss’ Day—when we finally get to hear how much we are cherished and appreciated [conspiracy theorists dissing it as commercialisation of love be damned!]
So, the next time you spot an eager looking woman moving her head clockwise and anti-clockwise desperate to be recognised, go up to her and exclaim: Are you Purba? I love reading your articles in Complete Wellbeing! Trust me, she’ll hug you so hard, your tonsils might get ejected to outer space!
Spot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!