I had a strange, albeit predictable, dream last night, rather this morning. I dreamt that I've received an email from my publisher, informing me that my book has been published and that it has already earned me a royalty of 2,400 euros. Attached to the email was a scanned version of the book cover. The cover, I vividly remember, was beige-coloured and the title of the book, to my great horror, was five or six words long, and not the two-word title I had thought of. I tried very hard to read the title but I just could not, even though the point-size was big enough for a blind man to read.
It was while trying to decipher the title of my own book when I woke up. Wife had already gone to work. The maids had come and gone. And there was one message waiting to be read on my phone, from Airtel -- a reminder that I must pay the bill. In dreams, it is usually impossible to read or run, even though one can fly. There were plenty of times when I've flown over skyscrapers at my sweet will. I've read that such 'flying' dreams are a manifestation of ambition. I am not, therefore, surprised that I haven't had a single flying dream in the last few years, especially after I got married. Marriage kills ambition: it merely makes you think of doing well in life. If you have realised your ambition, you might be doing well in life; but doing well in life does not necessarily mean you have achieved your ambition. Ambition is about lighting the fire, and doing well in life is about dowsing the fire -- the choice is yours.
To give you an example. Time was when I didn't have a computer at home (because I didn't really require it then) and I would hand-write my pieces and then take the sheets of paper to work the next day and type the matter out. While typing, I would automatically edit what I had hand-written the previous night. All the writing would be done with a fountain pen -- be it the humble Parker or the somewhat expensive Lamy or Sheaffer. At the time, the dream was to own a Mont Blanc.
In March 2005 I bought a laptop. Except for the rare occasions when I felt too lazy to get out of bed, most of the writing was done on the laptop. I found it silly that I should write something first in longhand and then transfer it to Microsoft Word. Why not do it there straightaway? But trust me, nothing beats the pleasure -- and the quality -- of writing when you have nothing but a pen and pieces of paper. Try for yourself and you will know what I mean.
When you have a pen in hand, you plunge deeper into your thoughts; whereas, when you are typing away on the keyboard, you don't care to weigh your words carefully because it is so easy to press the 'backspace' and retype. Writing with a fountain pen is like making authentic mutton biryani, while typing out your words is like making a burger -- any bugger can do it.
But then, life throws up difficult choices. On one hand, you can take a cycle-rickshaw ride, when you can soak in the sights and sounds and smells of a place as the rickshaw moves at a snail's pace; and on the other, you can take a taxi, so that you can cut the crap and reach your destination as quickly as possible. Considering that humans are mostly impatient, it is natural that they would settle for the taxi rather than the rickshaw. So I stopped writing long-hand and began typing. But when I got married, the first gift I received from my new wife was a Mont Blanc fountain pen.
Today, I have three Mont Blanc pens -- minus the one that my wife gifted me because someone flicked it (may those kleptomaniac fingers be stricken by leprosy) -- but nothing to write with them. Those pens, when I choose to tuck one of them in my breast pocket, serve merely as a status symbol. And only three years ago, I so badly wanted to possess just one Mont Blanc pen so that I could discover the pleasure of writing with it. That's the difference between nursing an ambition and doing supposedly well. Ambition is like a sizzler, and 'doing well' a bowl of bland soup.
Back to my dream, though. Dreams are something you have no control over: they can be outrageous as well as irrational. Outrageous, because I've often had erotic dreams about people who -- oh no, not a word more. Irrational, because I don't understand why I should be calculating my royalty in euros and then converting the amount into rupees, that too when I am fast asleep? I guess that's what dreams are all about.
By the way, how many rupees is 2,400 euros? I think the sum works out to slightly over a lakh of rupees, and I sincerely hope and pray that early-morning dreams indeed come true, as many of them firmly believe. But in reality, I have no control over the number of people who choose to buy my book as and when it comes out. One thing is certain, however: the cover of my book is surely going to be beige-coloured. You must take some clues from your dreams, after all, shouldn't you?