Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Mind of a Writer

Remember Firaaq Gorakhpuri? He hated his wife so much that he refused to see her face even when they lived under the same roof. But that was an extreme.When Premchand married a widow, I wonder whether his first wife was around.Though Ghalib married his childhood sweetheart but wikipedia says, 'There are conflicting reports regarding his relationship with his wife'. Our very own Gulzar separated from  beautiful Rakhi

In the west most of the famous writers had multiple marriages.Hemingway married thrice, Henry Miller-five times, just to name a few. But it is common in their culture.They might have been like this even if they were not writers.

Generally people who are very popular and admired by many, considered witty with a great sense of humour are not equally amiable at home or with the people closely related to them.

What can be the reason? One what I think is that they don't want to be interrupted. Unlike any other profession they cannot resume their work after making small talk and start where they had left.They have to be selfish it seems.While writing, one moment of distraction and there slips an apt word and an idea which he might never catch again.

At the dentist's waiting room I was reading Mahesh Dattani's column and he was complaining how people who know that he works from home, drop in. In spite of telling them that he is not expecting anyone at that time.

So what happens if a family member needs the writer's attention? They can't be formal at home. And what if his wife wants to know if she should keep her hair short or long or has she put on weight.What for dinner? Writers don't even have fixed working hours.

The other reason can be that the wife doesn't resemble the character he is creating in his notebook who is obedient and knows him so well and speaks only when he wants.

I know a writer who lives in a mansion with his two dogs, a bar full of alcohol and a few devoted servants.Though separated, the wife is in touch and still cares for him.So one more thing which I observed is common that though separated these wives are not sure what exactly they hated in their husbands and still respect them.I fail to understand how can wives even stand them who made their lives hell.I was brooding all this when I saw Rakhee touching Gulzaar's (One of my most fav writers)feet on the stage in an award function.

I know we cannot generalise as on the other hand there are writers like Jug Suraiya who cannot write an article without the mention of his wife.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Madras Memories

It was like a foreign land for me when I reached Madras around 15 yrs back. Language seemed the only barrier between me and the city where I planned to stay for the rest of my life. But I took it in my stride and by the time I reached Vellechery, I could already read ‘Pallavan’ in Tamil. As it was written on all the city buses in English and Tamil.Same goes for all the sign boards and most of the hoardings.

The warm smile of our landlady made me forget the fatigue caused by the 36 hrs long journey from Lucknow. She asked us what wd we like to have: coffee, tea or Horlicks? I would have had a fit of laughter if in Lucknow someone would have offered me Horlicks. Hubby stared at me with surprise When I said 'Horlicks'. Horlicks was good. Which was warm and sweet like her smile. For two months we lived like a big family. And then we got a house on campus.

The Hindu every morning looked so different from TOI and IE I grew up with. While my 2 yr old daughter and I had to interact with ppl who didn’t know English, hubby was comfortable with his colleagues and students.
IIT Madras was a pleasant mixture of quiet surrounding amidst the jungle and fast city life just outside the main gate
I had my fears when we planned for our second child in a new place and far away from my parents,Still I enjoyed my ‘fatso’ days there.I read all the books by RK Narayan from the Faculty Club library and ate lots of south Indian food and was sure to deliver a Swami straight from Malgudi Days.

Choosing a doctor was a tough task.I found an around 80 yr old lady doctor when I reached the clinic a friend had suggested. She took good care of me throughout .Specially with the diet plan etc. But just one month before the due date I wondered about her capabilities and facilities in her clinic in case there would be an emergency.
At this point we met Dr Prabhawati at ‘Andhra Mahila Sabha’ hospital.She looked like a typical doctor from advertisements. Smart with short hair and wore a crisp cotton saari. Like most doctors she also spoke less, but gave me all the important instructions politely and assured me that everything is fine with my health. After just 2-3 routine check ups ,one fine midnight I found myself at the hospital. The nurses on duty must have called her. And at 3 in the morning she was with me,though I was feeling guilty for disturbing her.At 4 am I delivered my child. After that I met her just one more time..
Around this time hubby got an offer from IIT Kanpur which was near my hometown. I had to leave Madras before I could explore it.
One day I saw Dr Prabhawati’s picture in the obituary section of 'The Hindu' at a south Indian professor’s place.Then I came to know that my doctor was in the advanced stage of cancer when I needed her at that unearthly hour. She did a lot of social work also in the rural areas.

During my check ups I used to be so occupied with my queries and fears that I never noticed that she wore a wig.
A trip to South India