He carried a large plastic bag and sat awkwardly in the chair. We were at the physiotherapist’s. I had started my sessions; he had come for consultation. It was an unusually hectic day, so there was a bit of a wait. He smiled hesitantly; I smiled back.

The doc asked her assistant, “Have you got F’s diathermy ready?”

It was not.

The gentleman narrowed his eyes. “Ah, now I know,” he said as I looked in his direction. My expression must have been quizzical. “I just heard your name…I have been wondering that you looked familiar. So, you are FV. And you disappeared seven years ago.”

“You remember the timeframe?”

“Yes, and let me tell you that you made a deep impact on many of us. I was out of college. I first read you 15 years ago…”

He rattled off a few subjects I had written about.

“This is extremely touching,” I said.

And it was. It is. In a world where you have to be a known face and your identity rests largely on which parties you attend and who you hobnob with, this was refreshing and only confirms my belief that somewhere in the ether all is not lost.

He would not have thought about me as a diva. I was not even a ‘personality’. I do not know his name and will perhaps never see him again. I merely represented a certain thought-process and manner of expression that stayed with him. Because it perhaps reflected his. That is all. And that is what I am seen as. Not a diva.

In a city like Mumbai with the background one has it is the easiest thing to be a part of hype and hoopla. Does one imagine that all those who appear in the glossies have made a dent in someone’s way of thinking or mirrored anyone’s thoughts?

This may sound like a self-congratulatory post, but it could not come at a more opportune time.

At a time when I was told, “There has got to be some reason why people say all those nasty things about you.” Why? Reminds me of the judge in the courtroom asking the rape victim whether she was dressed provocatively, the implication being that she invited such an act.

What can I say?

- - -

My friends say I do not need to defend myself. You think being ‘controversial’ is fun? Try swapping places with me for two days.

Go through the experience of having your column taken off without the courtesy of being informed after 11 years of hard work. Go through the abuse I have gone through only for voicing certain views by people who remain largely anonymous. Go through times when you are threatened with physical assault. Go through the mental torture of watching all the effort of so many words and so much passion you feel for them being pinned down and destroyed with a single sentence or phrase. Go through the time when you watch people who genuinely support your views being dismissed as “lapdogs” and “bootlickers”; it demeans them and you because it tries to nullify everything.

These people can surround themselves with their fawning cliques even if they have nothing to show; I cannot get a bit of appreciation for the work I have done without someone hitting out at me even at this superficial level. It isn’t just unknown and insecure characters on websites and public platforms. I am talking about people who care.

For the past couple of weeks I have written a few times about these feelings. I am not worried about all this damaging my pride or self-esteem. I am concerned that I should not lose this thing called trust and to see caring as a sly strategy.

No. It won’t happen. I have patience and belief.

- - -

kiije na das me.n baiTh kar aapas kii baat chiit
pahu.Nchegii das hazaar jagaah das kii baat chiit

kab tak rahe.n Khaamosh ke zaahir se aap kii
ham ne bahut sunii kas-o-naakas kii baat chiit

muddat ke baad hazarat-e-naaseh karam kiyaa
farmaa_iiye mizaaj-e-muqaddas kii baat chiit

par tark-e-ishq ke liye izhaar kuchh na ho
mai.n kyaa karuu.N nahii.n ye mere bas kii baat chiit

kyaa yaad aa gayaa hai "Zafar" panjaa-e-nigaar
kuchh ho rahii hai band-o-muKhammas kii baat chiit

- Bahadur Shah Zafar

- - -

The last two segments have been added on Jan 4, 10 am


  1. FV:

    Why do you need constant reassurances? Bricks and bouquets are part of the package. Bricks can help you in constructing a house and bouquets are useless after a few days (they go into the waste bin). Let me quote Sahir --

    mujhe tumhaare taGaaful se kyuu.n shikaayat ho
    merii fanaa meer ehasaas kaa taqaazaa hai
    main jaanataa huu.N ke duniyaa kaa Khauf hai tum ko
    mujhe Khabar hai ye duniyaa ajiib duniyaa hai
    yahaa.N hayaat ke parde me.n maut chalatii hai
    shikast saaz kii aawaaz me.n ruu naGmaa hai

  2. PS:

    Thanks for Sahir...

    I have added the portion I had not decided against using earlier. I need reassurance because I am mortal. And the episode I recounted is indeed touching...

  3. Manto. Remember Manto. Tried half a dozen times for 'obscenity', villified even today...people just aren't worth it, if you ask me.


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