By Kulbhushan Kain
Why do I write and when do I write? And how much of time do I spend on writing?
All are simple questions to answer. I write for myself. I write to please myself. I don’t write to make money or to get fame. I have enough to sustain my lifestyle and as George Bernard Shaw had once written, “If you aren’t famous enough when you are 28 years old – you never will be!” I write because I would like to read what I did, or how I evolved when I am old. I write the truth and would not write the untruth if it made me unhappy at the cost of making others happy.
I started writing when I stopped teaching. I stopped teaching when my energy levels could not keep up with what my teaching style demanded. Teaching, at one level, is a physical act – one has to walk, talk, argue, articulate, entertain! That’s why some of us move from teaching to administration as we get older. The energy just slips away- very stealthily.
Writing on the other hand, is more a mental task. One can lie down and write, or one can write sitting on a chair or a bed. Hemingway wrote while standing! One can write when one has a cough, fever or cold as I have right now. One can write from a hospital bed, or when one is in a plane at a height of 40,000 feet above sea level. One can write at any time of the day, evening, or night. There is no specific time to write as such.
I prefer writing at night when my train of thoughts is least likely to be broken. Sometimes I cry when I write – when I write obituaries of close friends and pets. I have seldom laughed while writing – humour hardly finds any space in my writings. It does not come naturally to me.
I used to write a lot on politics – till I realised that essentially,I am not a political animal. I understand politics very well because I have been a student of politics and history – but I have never taken part in an election as a candidate at any level, and neither do I regret not having done so! Politics is something I would not like to reflect upon when my walk back to the pavilion starts (which I suspect has already begun).Politics does not tickle my mind.
I love cricket and tennis and I love history – and I write a lot about them. I have written a lot about travel and food. I have written a lot about the loss of ones who I admired, loved, and learnt from. I love human relationships and have written a lot about them as well – though some are personal and hence still in the closet. Some of these relationships have been beautiful, some sour (not gender specific by the way). Some deal with men, some women, some with my bosses, some with people I was entrusted to lead. I don’t want to forget them and don’t want to make them public at the moment. But I have captured them honestly in my writings.
Here is an excerpt from a blog which I wrote many years ago and was shared with a select group. I quote from the blog:
She presented me a book titled “Lucky Girls”, which is one of my most prized possessions.
“Why did you spend money on a book written by an author I haven’t even heard of?” I had asked.
She smiled, said nothing. The moment passed as we chatted and she left.
After she left, I casually flipped the cover to read the foreword of the book. Neatly written, in pencil was the sentence – “May all lucky girls come to you. From one of them.”
It meant so much. It spoke so much. At the same time, it suppressed so much.
Only if one writes can one express so much in such few words.
Many years later, I met her again and invited her for a cup of coffee and snacks in an upscale hotel. I carried a book with me as a gift for her. It was a small slim book and one of my favourites – “One day in the life of Ivan Denosovich”, written by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
She looked at it, opened it, and remarked
“How impersonal. At least write something in it.”
I asked the steward for a pen, wore my spectacles, and after thinking for a while, wrote, “I have known you from the 80s. The feelings haven’t changed – Aaj phir dil mein ek tammana aiee, Aaj phir dil koh humne samjhaayaah!” Unquote.
Though I have lost track of her- the moment was captured for eternity!!
I continue to write!!! The written word conveys so much more than the spoken word. Always. And is eternal.
(Kulbhushan Kain is an award winning educationist with more than 4 decades of working in schools in India and abroad. He is a prolific writer who loves cricket, travelling and cooking. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)