I should have been ideally writing this letter to you with a fountain pen, on a fresh A4 piece of paper. I have a bunch of expensive fountain pens sitting inside my wardrobe. They have been there ever since I lost a Mont Blanc from home. But who has the patience. I would possibly end up striking out every word I write and then tear up the sheet and take a fresh one. The 'delete' and 'backspace' buttons have changed the way I think. There would be a dozen paper balls on my desk before I could write a decent letter. It is so much better this way, though not necessarily as enjoyable.
Why I am writing to you tonight is because I have not written a real letter in a long time. I have been writing for the paper, I have been writing for this blog, I even managed to write a full-length book -- but in all those I have been a sort of performer who is deliberately selective about what is to be written and what is to be held back. The blog, however, gives me the liberty to be as myself as possible, but even there, of late, I realised that I am no longer able to write what I feel.
There was a time when I wrote essays on subjects like sex and fidelity. I wrote about sex and fidelity even after I got married. But today, I no longer have the courage or inclination to write about such subjects. Is that because I have already said whatever I had to say? Is that because I am beginning to worry too much about what people will think or say? Or is it that I am getting old? Or is it that I have stopped feeling?
If I analyse, I think it's the last one. I have stopped feeling. A few weeks ago, Gulshan Bawra, the lyricist, died. I felt very sad that he died, because only a few months before, I had bought a CD in which he pays tribute to R.D. Burman on his birth anniversary. For fans of R.D. Burman, this CD is a must-listen. Speaking in Punjabi-accented Hindi, he recounts anecdotes concerning himself and Pancham that were crucial to the creation of the eight or nine songs featured in the CD. Anecdotes such as, how during the making of Kasme Vaade, Pancham came for dinner to Gulshan Bawra's house and started humming to his wife Anju in a certain tune,
"Sarson ka saag tu banana Anju
sarson kasaag tu banana Anju...
Pehle tu mera ek peg banana
pehle tu mera ek peg banana..."
Literally speaking, what Pancham was telling Gulshan Bawra's wife was this: "Anju, make sarson ka saag, but before that, fix a drink for me." But Gulshan Bawra got the message: Pancham was actually indicating the tune so that he could write the lyrics.
Eventually, the 'Sarson ka saag' humming became immortal as:
"Kasme vaade nibhayenge hum
milte rahenge janam janam...
Tu hai mere jeene ka sahara
barson ka khoya hua pyaar aisa mila..."
Sung by the one and only Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar. You know the song, don't you? It is picturised on Amitabh Bachchan and Rakhee.
There were so many anecdotes like this in that CD. I did not feel sad about the passing away of Gulshan Bawra just because I was still listening to the recently-bought CD when I heard the news. It was very natural for me to feel sad in any case. Apart from Gulzar, Bawra was the last surviving Pancham lyricist. Both Majrooh and Anand Bakshi died a few years ago: pick out any R.D. Burman hit and it would be invariably written by either Majrooh or Anand Bakshi. But it was Gulshan Bawra who wrote the most youthful and hummable numbers for Pancham -- be it Khel Khel Main or Jawaani (remember Tu Rootha To Main Ro Doongi Sanam?) To tell you the truth, most of the R.D. songs that I truly like are the ones written by Gulshan Bawra: tell me S, can you beat the songs of Yeh Vaada Raha?
And yet, I did not write a post about Gulshan Bawra when he died, even though he is one of the pillars of my childhood as well as adolescence. Have I stopped feeling? I think so, S. Of late, there have been times when I want to write about something but then I let it be. You know something, there are at least 15 posts sitting as 'draft' on my blog that have not been posted. I start writing with great enthusiasm, and but after about 500 words, I ask myself: "Is it really worth it? Why should anyone be interested?" I save it as 'draft' in order to work on it the next evening, which never comes.
This was certainly not the case till about a year ago when I wrote whatever I felt like. These days, even provocations don't seem to work. The other day, a reader, perhaps a well-meaning one, asked me,
"You have given so much about yourself in this blog - including the sexual adventures. Whats your take on facing people in real life? I mean, you are not writing all these under some pseudonym. Is it a "I don't give a damn about what you think about me" attitude? Most people can't dream of writing like this under real name and going to office next day!"
I began writing a post in reply:
I don't know what is so scandalous about my writing that I should be ashamed of going to office the next day. My office happens to be a newspaper office, not a seminary or a monastery. If you go by the essence of what I write and not just the words I clothe my thoughts with, you could actually visualise me sitting in one corner of a giant, quite hall in a monastery, meditating upon life. Moreover, there is very little of me in my blog, leave alone my sexual adventures -- may be I need to return to my old posts.
Time was when this blog did not exist. What was there was a column I wrote for the paper -- my sole weapon then to claim my place under the sun. When I look back now, I realise that I wrote far more scandalous stuff in that column. Even today, when I happen to recall some of those pieces, I momentarily shut my eyes in embarrassment.
I wanted to write more, but after two paras I clicked on the 'Save as draft' button. I had run out out of patience as well as the urge to explain. I am what I am, I thought, why explain?
But S, am I really being what I am. I seem to have become a well-settled citizen of blogosphere who no longer feels the need to assert his existence by speaking out his mind. That's not my idea of life. At least I am aware that I am slipping into inertia. That way I am safe, because I also feel the need to get out of it. I will, someday soon. That's all for now.