Saturday, February 09, 2008

If You Want to Write Go for a Long Walk and Swing Your Hands!

I just returned from my walk in the Valley Park. I had to do this as a part of my recovery, have to get my tummy in shape (it is hopelessly distended after the food poisoning), and have to beat a bit of swelling around the ankles. So I walk up a steep gradient swinging my arms in long semi-circles. A lot of people stare at me, but I am not bothered. Eh, it’s me who needs healing, not them. A friend, another “Mathew” drives by with his wife, and I wave at him. He doesn’t wave back, the bum. I know why. I am wearing a muffler around my head and ears because of the cold, and on my head is a Stepney for the cold, a monkey cap, or a balaclava (Is it balalclava? I search on Google for a definition [try this: “define: balaclava” and you get tens of definition of any difficult thing, right?] and find it is balaclava. Good, I can proceed with my writing now.)

I walk all the way up Valley Park hill where the road winds up into the jungles. There are leopards around and I find that I am a coward of the jungle and its denizens. Well, hmmm, I will never make a good explorer of forests. But it is getting dark, and its cold, and I huff and puff up the gradient. Then I come across a few stragglers who are walking back, and there’s nobody walking ahead of me. As I top the hill, the view makes me draw my breath even deeper.

There before me is the blue sky bordered with a brush-stroke of red, a tiny crescent of a moon and, and I lie down flat on a rocky surface and gaze up and wonder why the sky is so clear of clouds when it’s so cold. Then I realise that I am panting and sweating at the same time inside my sweater. I loosen it. Then the refrain of an old favourite comes to mind, Carpenters’ “Top of the World.” I sing loudly, because there is no one around, and I don’t care if there is anyone around. I sing lying flat, staring at the sky, while tears and snot run down my face. I don’t wipe it and let it run.

The tears come and the snot comes and I sing through it all, this favourite song of mine. The Carpenters are dead, but their song lives on. They (Karen Carpenter and Richard Carpenter) gave us some memorable music in the fifties and sixties (remember, I was born in the fifties), and gave us what the likes of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton gave us in the eighties, mushy and maudlin songs of love and longings. Many are the girls I sang this song to, of course, in my mind. But now I sang loudly, my voice shaky, snot and tears running down my face. The songs? Top of the World and Yesterday Once More. And I sing a Hindi song: Kishore Kumar's evergreen hit: "Aa leke chaloon."

Then all of a sudden it got too dark, and I couldn’t see the individual trees anymore. They were a mass of blackness against the clear Prussian blue sky. I couldn’t hear the bird sounds also. Probably they have all gone to sleep. I get up and walk swinging my arm in long semi-circles. The park attendant a “Pundit” is chanting his evening prayers, and I don’t engage in small talk. As I leave the park, I see the curvaceous daughter of my home goods vendor entering her bungalow. She stares at the hooded figure that’s me and I stare back. Of, course she doesn’t know I know her dad. I had bought my cupboards, my television, music system from him when I had come to live here in 1988, twenty years ago, and his sniffling daughter is now a chubby, and curvaceous collegian, not unattractive, I must say. A fleeting thought passes my mind: Yes, some of my money has gone into his palatial bungalow, and the low-waist jeans she is wearing. Ah well, it’s capitalism at its best, at least, the Indian form of it.

When I get home, my thoughts are so fresh that my fingers fly on the laptop I keep open all the time on my writing bureau. You know, inspiration to write can strike any time! And I wrote this piece in only ten minutes with the minimum of corrections. So aspiring writers, if you want to write clearly, first go for a long walk up a hill, and remember to swing your hands in long semi-circles.

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