A writer in Mumbai
By Vinita Radhakrishna, soulpen.in
She has been sitting in front of the 15 inch wide dell screen for a long time before starting to type. She had given up writing some time ago, no specific reason, just, she guessed. Now her hands were instinctively scrolling the mouse for the MS Word document and her fingers typing something she didn’t know she was going to write.
She moves back her dark brown hair from her face, bites her lower lips, as she does whenever she thinks too hard and concentrates on the screen trying to gather whatever is going inside her- Kanye West is singing in the background, the lights are dim, the air conditioner is in a comfortable temperature of 24 but she isn’t looking or feeling any of that. She has no idea what she is feeling.
She clicks on the mouse to correct the grammatical errors, this is an annoying, thought breaking habit which she always had, she has to correct the sentences before she can type ahead. This and moving her hair and biting her lips and concentrating too hard. Now she looks at the television screen again, she sees images but looks at nothing, her hands are just typing even as she is thinking what to write about. She hadn’t known she was going to write. It has been such a long time since she has.
Finally pausing and reading the above paragraphs and faintly humming an old Dido song, she feels like herself after a long time. She had always felt this feeling when she wrote- this feeling, this feeling of herself. This feeling which she had missed for so long, now she realizes as words light up the blank document and fills her minds with wonderful thoughts.
The thoughts make no sense actually, they never did and they are never supposed too, despite what they say in books. If thoughts made sense, then we would all be so thoughtful. But we aren’t, are we? She never considered herself average but nor did she consider herself to be the best. She just knew she was different. She looked like others, talked like others, behaved like others but never felt the feeling which everybody felt.
You know what she is talking about- feeling of fear when you see horror movies or feeling of loneliness when you are alone and sad, the feeling of emptiness when you are left out… and so on. She has always been happy with herself. It doesn’t mean she is not a social person, she loves to talk, has some good friends and has always been a people person but she is happy, alone too. That’s something which not many people can brag about!
She has this habit of listening to the music stored on her Motorola every time she goes out. The playlist has not been updated recently, even though she has been meaning to but hasn’t got to yet. She can’t walk without music. It makes her feel that she is in focus and though she loves attention, she is an Arian girl after all but she feels naked without music strumming in her ears even if it is the same music, in the same order, day after day.
Frowning at the screen, ignoring the blinking light of the Motorola, she tries to think. Thinking is not too hard but now when the boundaries are endless, time is in abundance, she thinks, thinks but comes up with nothing. She stares at the artifact hung on the pink wall of her bedroom and wonders what it means. The artifact portrays the Indian culture of folk and festivities, and though she is and Indian herself, this culture she never understood. Oh, she prays, she is religious in a modern, non-temple going kind of way but her culture; Indian culture was always beyond her realms of thinking and imagination.
She has grown up watching Cartoons in English and listening to Ricky Martin and Britney Spears, that she has forgotten to enjoy her own culture. She doesn’t regret it, she thinks but nobody really knows what lies underneath their thoughts. You have an image in front of you now- an Indian face with dark hair and yellowish tint in her skin writing passively about a culture and heritage she should be so proud of. You have several traits of her personality etched in your mind. Cut it. Erase it. It is not true. It is really not.
Yes, the face you might be imagining might be close to what she looks like but her mind is a canvas which nobody has been able to portray, not even herself. Despite these issues, she loves her country, her city, Mumbai, she is so proud of being brought up here. She doesn’t listen to classical music, she doesn’t dance in weddings and go to temples every now and then, she doesn’t wear Indian clothes much either but she is still an Indian, a true Indian that too, she believes.
It’s not about what you show outside; it’s the inside that matters. That is not an original line, she knows but it’s so true in her case. Her inner version of herself is what she tries to show but ends up losing her outer self. Maybe that’s why outsiders consider her cold, passive and arrogant. She is. She is all of that yet she doesn’t like it when she is perceived like that.
So many dreams in her eyes, anybody can see but nobody knows. She lives in India, runs an averagely successful company but dreams of being big- she wants to be everything she sees, everything that she reads, everything that she imagines herself to be. She is unable to. The cause could be the lack of will power, she doesn’t think so. The cause could be she doesn’t want, but she wants to, she knows that. She is unable to yet. The fire burning deep in her soul has somehow lost its heat on the outside. Her dreams are there yet not within her reach.
She doesn’t want to rule the world. She doesn’t want to be a beauty queen. Hell, she doesn’t even want to be filthy rich and famous but her dreams are there. She knows them, deep down but she can’t see. The life, her life has blinded her so, she can’t even see herself. She can see herself, of course, but not the real her.
She is a daughter to her parents, a girlfriend to a wonderful man, a sister to her siblings but she doesn’t see herself ever. She used to. She used to a lot but it stopped. Now she feels better, a smile lighting her face with a glow which she can’t see. A dimple in her smile she can’t see but she feels it. She has never felt this better, this urge to be herself in a long time. Her mind is saying it’s all in her mind, these thoughts, good and bad but she knows what it is. It is this. This exact moment of this humid evening. This moment when she started to be herself unknowingly yet knowingly, this moment when she started to write.