I dislike the word author. Not for itself, but when applied to those who use their skill with words. Author is a larger term. According to some rumours, god is the author or the world.
Am I an author?
I was told a few months ago that I ought to change my profile on this blog. Heck, I was told to stop blogging “like that” and posting pictures of hair, nose, eyes, bits of clothing…I was told to behave like I mattered. I said all the parts of me mattered; without them I’d be handicapped, especially the bits of clothing…
Therefore, with the confidence that comes with dotage (stop right there before you hand me the walking stick; dotage also refers to second childhood), I decided to let things be as they are. They are still true, perhaps truer.
People continue to ask me, “What do you do?” I swallow. No, I don’t tell them that. I swallow my pride - is pride liquid that it can be swallowed? Why don’t we chew pride into little morsels? - and tell them that I am hot, cold, frigid, old, young, over-the-top, under-the-weather, between a hard rock and the waves…I give them this gibberish, which really isn’t because I am all of these and some.
If they are nice, then they nod the sort of nod stewards give when a diner tries to pronounce some unmentionable part of an unmentionable animal they are about to order from the menu. Then, they ask, “And what else? Like what do work as?”
Right. I mumble that I write.
Now, writers can be village postmen penning letters to a beloved spouse in a distant city… “Chunnu ke pitaji, hiyaan gai-bhains sab kusal-mangal hai. Jagdisva ka pairan ma moch huvai, sasura peid par chadayee gaya. Aur haan, bahut laaj aave bolna ka, par aapai ki marji se huva…hamra paaon bhaari hai. Jab gaon aavo to peepermeint lana na bhulvo. Chunnu ko bahut pasand hai. Hiyaan sab yaad karat hai…”
Or writers can be researchers working on dissertations with big fat Greek wedding type sounding names like ‘An Intestinal and Infinitesimal Analysis of Anal Retentiveness in Constipated Minds from the Perspective of Dysenteric Verbosity in the Colon’.
Or writers can be time-pass keyboardists…or part-time poets…or…you get the drift.
So, the person asking me waits and wonders which category I could belong to.
Suddenly, it strikes that maybe I could be writing those mystery novels…like ‘Shhh… koi hai’ on TV where there is a murder, rape, robbery, and the culprit is never that character whose eyes bulge out of the socket and tongue hangs out and hair looks electrified. The questioner may look at my eyes, tongue, hair to ascertain the possibility, though.
Someone even asked if I wrote like Mills & Boon stuff. Oh, I so wanted to say yes. Imagine spending your life writing about women with perky breasts that are definitely more interesting than the women, and men who are very good at inheriting money to keep perky breasts forever perky.
Finally, the inquisitor stifles a yawn and says, okay, nice meeting you…do you know Salman Rushdie? Everybody knows Salman Rushdie. Even the paanwalla, especially the paanwalla.
Now I have begun to say author. It sounds authoritative. Like I am the author of this idea. I wasn’t sure. So I looked up the contract with my publisher. It says, “This deed has been signed by the hip and happening (arrite, poetic license this) FV, henceforth referred to as the author, and Harper Collins, henceforth referred to as the publisher”.
I guess that makes me an author because someone who does authors is saying I am one.
Then comes the next step. Which is deadly, “What do you write on?” I wish I could say food, mocktails, wine, fashion, how to make hay during an eclipse…stuff like that…I stutter, “Well, my first book is on Pakistan.”
“Oh…” (face falls), or “Oh!” (face lights up because s/he has visited there for cricket matches and been in love with Imran Khan who has the bitters/Wasim Akram who has diabetes/Shoaib Akhtar who has ..ne’er mind). Last month, and this is real, I met an educated lady. She was all about how the launch went and how wonderful it is that am on the shelf (hah). She paused and asked, “So you actually went to Pakistan?”
To mess up an old saying, Poori Ramayana padh li ab poochte hai ke Hanuman Lanka gaye ya nahin.
It’s been funny moments. I don’t mind. I like introducing myself again and again. What am I?
A character…I have been written and erased several times.
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I have been delayed, and some people who were supposed to post queries on my book (here) have not done so…you have some time. Or else I will use the email ones.