If there is something awful COVID has succeeded in doing to those of us it hasn’t managed to kill, it is in taking us back to those places we had sworn never to return to. Or sticking us down to those places we terribly wanted to leave.
Guys at the turn of the year had made certain declarations they may be ashamed to hear today. Those on the cusp of life stages, especially, had sworn to the high heavens how this year would not end without them leaving the boys’ club or them finally finding the one or, at least, leaving their parents’ congested house.
One talk that for long had dominated the final year students’ conversations was the stuff around getting a place for themselves and going out there to see for themselves if jobs were indeed as scarce as we were being made to believe. If plans went well for most of us, we would by now be in some office corner sipping hot tea after a morning marked by the prodigious task of checking and answering emails. We would be on that rotating chair musing at how great life can get, thinking to ourselves that, perhaps, this 8-4-4 thing isn’t so bad. We would be having our own space by now. At the very worst, that online writing thing would have been sustaining those of us whose luck would still be stuck somewhere in Oloitoktok [I don’t know where that is].
If someone would have told me that a time like this I would be home, scrolling my day away in some old phone, this degree business still shrouded in uncertainties, I would have laughed so loudly. I would have reminded them that no one studies for all these years just to end up behind a broken screen. I might have even thrown them my credentials to their face.
But if such a conversation would have materialized, I picture that COVID would have been eavesdropping, right from Wuhan. Fighting hard not to laugh. But COVID, being the dark soul it is, laughing all the same. Its laughter sending shockwaves and ripples all over – from Novosibirsk to Timbuktu. Stretching the length of the Amazon.
That’s what it is. Like a rumbling stomach in a quiet room, even if you’re in a suit. COVID just doesn’t care. And so, here we are. Forced to return to these people we thought we would soon depart from, those rooms we thought we would never visit again.
But that’s not where it has returned me to. Well, it has returned me home, to my parents, but I hadn’t sworn I would never return there. So it was easy humbling myself and accepting that, well, I wasn’t still a man enough to chart my own path.
The thing is, I have been escaping writing. And so I hang my boots a few years ago and promised myself that I was done with this thing. Completely. I even threw away most of my pens, that over the years had gathered glittering edges. But under the nose of this pandemic, finding myself with a few things to keep me happy and contented with this life, I was compelled to visit that dark room once again. That room whose lock, until yesterday, had freckled with age and dust.
There are a few things that expose us as writing does. It is like people seeing you, not naked, but without your very skin. You pouring your emotions like you would pour water into a mug then soaking up the pages with the very core of your soul, of your psyche. And I just decided that I didn’t want to be vulnerable anymore. I didn’t want to be seen naked. I would not let people, I didn’t even know, have a glimpse of my mind.
I wanted to walk with my thoughts closed in my head. To let people merely guess what I was thinking. How I viewed life at every point.
But then, yesterday, having read something about vulnerability and how it increases our happiness, I just snapped and decided that perhaps, I could enter that dark room again, that room of my own. I finally broke open the lock, I returned to a room that was dingy and dank, from a few years of abandonment. My tools had grown mould. My pens’ edges were blunt and needed some sharpening.
I’m not sure that I’ll hold it even beyond the pandemic. Or even beyond a few articles. But well, I’m going to give it a try, once again. Maybe within the precincts of this room, I’ll rediscover myself in this period when everyone is discovering something new about themselves – or about that person close to them. I’ll explore this room of writing. Who knows, maybe I could fork out a gem one of these days. Perhaps I could, in opening the vistas, usher in a world that isn’t dragged down by such a pandemic. A world unaware of this pandemic ravaging the masses.
Thinking through the most suitable title, I started off with Picking My Pen but then I realized it’s not like I had dropped it. It is something I had deliberately thrown away, in a bin. And no one picks up what they have thrown in the bin. So I thought, perhaps, Finding My Pen should suffice. But then again, this would not be the first time I was finding this pen. It is a pen I found about ten years ago. And so this would have been a little bit inaccurate. Then, considering the pain and toil that writing is – the airing of one’s inner skin, I thought perhaps it should be Finding My Pain, Again. But that would have exposed me more. It would have not gone down well with my fellow writers. It would be going against the writers’ cred. Writing has to be glorified. We have to extol just how fancy the whole thing is, the way we gracefully do it, with the grace of a somersaulting cat. Even though we drip blood putting stuff like this together.■