It’s been 8 months since I last wore a tie and walked in a corporate office.
The first six months after that were spent being still and silent in a number of different parts of this country. They were spent lying on the back on the top berth of a train, the shut eyes trying hard to combat the devilishly intrusive white of the tubelight just above me. They were spent trying to sleep on a rickety bus, with a restless driver bullying his way through tricky winding roads, as i swung on my window seat – my head coming to rest on the shoulder of an unknown woman at a bend and then on the cold steel railing of the window at the next. They were spent being mute and observant at cafes and hotel lobbies, temples and monasteries. I wanted to look through to the soul of a city, a town and then tell her something about herself that no one had cared to notice till then.
I was still for more than 14000 kms over 180 days. The only motion was of the fingers typing away and the toughest physical task was to reach out to a plug point a few feet away from my hotel bed. I had no one to talk to unless I found someone who would hand out to a wary traveller, measly alms of conversation. At some point, this charity would become too much for my pride and I would go back to talking to myself in the bathroom mirror.
And then I came back home. There was 24hour electricity, unlimited 4mbps wifi, an entourage of friends and a book-full of stories with gaping plot-holes. I somehow thought it would mean the static and the silence will be over. But it only got worse. The electricity meant hours of TV at whose altar activity was sacrificed – not just of the body but also of the mind. The internet demonstrated how I had nothing to show off about anymore because my 6 months of online fame were over. I was living the same miserable urban life all my friends were living – and I really had nothing original to say about the IPL or the Game of Thrones or Local Body Tax. I had abandoned two sites which before my adventure had been the dominant ones in my web history – Shaadi.com and Iimjobs.com. But the worst thing that happened was that I felt I was suddenly unable to hold my end of the conversation with friends. After the tap of travel stories had run dry, I felt I had nothing new to add to any conversation anymore. I simply had an overused stock of tired old jokes by way of humour.
I had my stories though. I worked hard on them these last two months - making them as good if not better than how they had first sounded to me in my mind. I spent hours in my room, with the noisy fan and the archaic laptop’s keyboard becoming my day’s rhythm, week after week. The stories would make me jump around the room when it would all come together sometimes. Some stories were more stubborn than others – unwieldy and clunky and badly written – they had to be rescued and at times it took days to do so, with no end in sight.
And so the stillness and the silence didn’t end even once I was home. The allure of friends and technology only flattered to deceive.
But the stories are ready now. And for the first time in the last 8 months, I am not friends with this stillness. I am struggling against it like Sunny Deol would when 50 policemen hold him back with Amrish Puri jeering at him.
And so, it’s time for action now. The book needs to be sold to agents and publishers and readers. I need to start work on something new as well. Serious ground work needs to begin on another book I have been thinking of for a few months now. There is also the possibility of taking up a job. The writer needs to take a breather for a bit. The action hero needs to take over. It is now time to fill up the day’s hours with so much work, that stillness is granted an entry only late in the night when, after hours of tossing and turning restlessly for ideas, sleep overpowers you against your will. There needs to be a plan. And then there needs to be such a mad rush that the plan is torn to shreds.
There needs to be action!
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