On another day, at a lunch beneath coconut trees, a mini golf course on one side and a lake on the other, a visitor from Delhi points to a group of young Indian woman writers sitting around a table, displaying cleavages and smooth thighs. “What is the literary worth of these writers?” he says. “Do they have any writing skills? Are their stories written from the soul?”
The group around his table is silent. Then he says, “I have my doubts. They have good contacts in the media, they spend their own money to have splashy cocktail party book launches, but they will last for only a season. Next year, another group of writers will take over and these books will be forgotten. They cannot stand the test of time.”
The above two paras are extracted from a report in the New Sunday Express about the recently-held Kovalam Literary Festival. I haven't stopped smiling ever since I read the report. It does not take a genius to realise that the above-mentioned 'visitor from Delhi' is someone who is either desperate to get published or is a failed writer. A smart writer would have either admired those cleavages and thighs from a distance or would have walked over to the lunch table to silently plot a post-dinner plan when one didn't have to contend with just a view of the cleavage or the smooth thighs. Nothing is impossible -- as I have told you in my previous post. For the 'bad' impossible things, you have to be mentally prepared, and for the 'good' impossible things, you have be eternally hopeful.
Well, I am just one-book old, and my book itself is just a month old (a small announcement here: it went for reprint yesterday), so it is going to be a long, long time before I am invited -- if at all -- to a litfest where I could get to meet fellow women writers who show cleavages and smooth thighs. How I am dying to meet them, but I guess I will have to spend a few more years of long, lonely nights in front of my computer before I earn my ticket to paradise.
But it is also true that if you are a sexy woman and even if you have written an apology of a book, you don't have to wait that long in order to be invited to a litfest or to be feted by the literary world. Fame, even if lasts for 15 minutes, comes easily to you. After all, everybody, every occasion, needs its share of glamour. I know you will now say: "Wasn't that exactly the point the 'visitor from Delhi' was making?" The answer, however, is a big no.
The 'visitor' made the remark only because he felt intimidated by the cleavages and the smooth thighs. He felt threatened. He would have felt safe and secure if the women writers at the litfest had oiled their hair and had neglected to wax their arms and legs. Since he could not match them in glamour, he questioned their literary worth and suspected the lack of soul in their stories. Did he even read their books or their stories? He was plain jealous, as simple as that. He could not digest the fact that women could write well and also look sexy at the same time. He was clearly intimidated by their confidence.
One can understand this man's angst. He is a typical Indian man with the typical Indian mindset -- that a woman cannot, and should not, outdo you. If she is sexy, she cannot be a writer. If she is a writer, she cannot be sexy. If the woman turns out to be both, he finds it extremely difficult to gulp down the fact and starts questioning her integrity. To such men, I have only one thing to say: "Fuck off. Get a life. Earn the admiration of those cleavage-showing writers, impress them, instead of trying to belittle them just because they look sexy."
And who has asked the men to look unsexy? A writer does not have to look sickly and have thin arms and a small chest. There are 24 hours in a day. Even if you devote five hours to serious writing every day, that still leaves 19 hours at your disposal. Even if you have a job that requires you to put in eight hours of work, you still have 11 left to do your own thing. Can't you spend even an hour of those 11 in the gym, building your pectorals and your cardiovascular endurance? And once in a week, maybe go to the parlour and spend a little money on grooming.
Learn from Gabo. He is a good example to learn from. Gabo is Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Even in advancing age, he played tennis in order to keep fit and carefully chose his attire (from among the wide range of white) to make sure his personality was as attractive as his prose. Imagine Gabo at the Kovalam Litfest: Would he have whined and questioned the literary worth of Ms Cleavage and Ms Smooth Thighs? He would have actually complimented their writing and played with the thighs.