A Bookish Love

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla

It was a stupid decision, they said. You are wasting your grades; you could easily get a better internship! But they did not understand. They did not know the absolute need, the compulsion to be there, among all those long, towering shelves of books. It was there, amidst the musty smell of books, that he could breathe.

He had his table by the classics section. It was the best table; he could see the black penguin covers, even if he was not allowed to pick any and read it during the day time. Their being there in front of him, just existing, was such a comfort. He helped people find the books; rarely did he use his computer to locate any book; he remembered where each of them was. Tolstoy’s War and Peace next to Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishmentโ€ฆ Bronte’s Jane Eyre besides the row of Jane Austen books. Hisย  hands lingered on the books; the touch was both familiar and exhilarating.

*

She had not been to the bookstore for four months now; an eternity. The work at the make-up aisle was mind-numbing, and hardly paid for the bills. There was no extra money for books, no extra time for perusing the different sections of the bookstore.

But she was here finally; a Tuesday when the mall was unexpectedly closed for maintenance. She felt herself in familiar territory; there was an ease in her walking now. She had a fixed routine. First, she went to the New Arrivals, reading the back covers of expensive hardbacks that she could never afford. She kept in mind the titles of the books she liked, making a mental note to buy them once they were old enough to be paperbacks or second-hands. Next, she browsed the Fiction section. Here, she opened the latest John Grisham, and read about 50 pages, standing. She would continue it from there the next time she was here. Crime and Mysteries came next, after which she walked straight past the Romance section to the one she loved best; the Classics section. Here, she walked up and down the line of shelves, reading the titles and mentally ticking off the ones she had already read. In this section, she could transport herself back to older times, tragedies of the war and the pain of betrayal. Here, she could rejoice in the “happily ever after” of Pride and Prejudice and cry at the unresolved ending of Gone with the Wind.

*

He saw her take a book in her hand and put it in a different shelf below. He stood up to prevent her from messing the shelves, but stopped. The book was A Picture of Dorian Gray, and it did belong to the lower shelf; someone must have picked it and then put it back in the most convenient spot on the higher shelf. He was surprised; she was a customer, why should it matter to her?

He slid back in his chair and watched closely. He saw her picking up book after book, reading the back covers, reading the first few pages, smiling and nodding at times. Always, she put the book back in its right place. As she browsed, she straightened the books that were not in line. It was almost an unconscious action; she displayed no exasperation on her face.

He saw her picking up yet another book now. After deliberating for a moment, she put it back. Then she picked it up again. He strained to see what book it was; Wuthering Heights.

*

She opened her purse. There were only Rs. 170 in it. The cost of the book was Rs. 160. That would leave her with just enough money to buy a bus ticket to home. There were still four days before the month end. There were still groceries to buy and bills to pay. Reluctantly, she put the book back on the shelf. She would buy it the next time. Slowly, she walked out of the bookstore.

*

He saw her returning ten minutes later. She walked with purpose now. Hurriedly, she went back to the Classics section, picked up Wuthering Heights, walked to the counter and bought it. He saw her smile once she held the book in her hands, now her own. The tension in her eyes eased gradually. With lighter steps, she walked out of the bookstore again.

He had never seen her in the bookstore before. He did not know who she was. But sitting here on his hard chair, among piles of books, he knew he had found the girl he would love.

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Blog Review: 2014

2014 has been a very happening year for me. There have been many defining events. The coming year is going to bring even wilder changes! I hope that my blog will continue to reflect the things happening in my life and that my writing will stay true to the person that I am. ๐Ÿ™‚

Blog-wise, the year saw a lot of poetry, and some life moments in between. Here are some of my favourite posts this year:

Stories:

Grief

Broken

Poetry:

Silent Love Poem

Fire

You Lied, Mother

The Empty Page

There Was Nothing To Be Done

Life/Personal:

Not Being Able To See

Being Enough

On Vulnerability, Bravery and Failure

Last year, my Reader was filled with these wonderful blog reports. I started blogging in February of 2013 and hence, did not get it the last time. This year, this little surprise was waiting for me in my inbox. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

I hope the following year sees more eclecticism in my blog posts. ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a wonderful year ahead!

Happy New Year โ€“ Festive, sparkling and glistening cake pops | niner bakes

 

The Writer In Me

Photo by Jason Long

I’m a writer of variety, she says.

I write everything I see.

But in all her stories,

I see a little bit of me.

 

With each story that she writes,

She pulls out a thorn.

A small something buried deep,

A long-forgotten pain.

 

She writes feverishly at times,

Almost like a maniac,

Stopping hardly to breath

As her fingers heal by pen.

 

Now I am all sore

With open wounds all over,

The writer sits by, satisfied;

A wet smile sits on her face.

The Empty Page

fountain-pen-blank-paper.jpg (450ร—300)

I wake up suddenly;

The remains of the nightmare

Form tiny beads of perspiration

On my forehead.

 

I shiver with cold

As I think of that page,

Sitting brightly on my desk

Smug in its blankness.

 

I tiptoe to the desk,

Not daring to turn on the light.

It glows in the dark though;

Its whiteness teases me.

 

I’ve had several such nights

Breathing heavily in front of it.

Willing myself to mar the white

And waiting in vain.

 

I burn with feverish passion

Now attacking it violently.

The pen slants across the page

For hours, I lash out at it.

 

The words pour out like blood

And then I slash them out,

Beginning anew,

Then turning old.

 

It is morning now,

My fervor has cooled down.

The paper bears the marks

Of my crimson ink.

Being Enough

One year ago, I began this blog.

One year ago, I felt pretty lost. Everyone around me was doing so much, or so I felt. I didn’t feel competent enough. I felt I was being too complacent, too cowardly, too negative. This blog began as an attempt to revive my love for writing and… and something else; something that I couldn’t quite place.

I had been mulling over blogging for at least six months before I started. But for some reason I never felt I could go through with it. I had stopped writing since a long time, and it didn’t come as easily as before. I had no idea of what would be acceptable to publish. The first post had been sitting drafted on my computer for a long time.

File:Stipula fountain pen.jpg

Photo via Wikipedia Creative Commons

One night though, I made a snap decision. Past midnight already, I opened WordPress.com, chose a cheesy URL, picked out the first theme I saw and hit publish.

When I started blogging, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to come out of it. I liked writing, but had pretty vague ideas about what exactly I would write. I was being affected by too many other bloggers who had their own style. There were bloggers who had weekly features, who wrote fun stuff. For some time, I tried doing all of that. There were several posts that I published and then deleted. Nothing worked; it just wasn’t me.

For several months, I wrote just for the sake of it, struggling even to publish just once a month.

A change came around September. I participated in a blogging challenge. I wasn’t able to finish it, but I wrote more than what I was previously doing. I think it was significant in two aspects; one, that it helped me get rid of my writers’ block, and two, it gave me the courage to publish without spending ages on revising it.

I remember the first follower I had, the first time I got a comment, the first time someone “liked” my post. I wasn’t sure what exactly I was seeking; validation perhaps, that there were people out there who liked reading my thoughts. I remember signing in with anticipation every time, getting excited when I saw something orange on the top right corner of my WordPress account. A follow made my day, I liked being “liked”. The time I hit a 100 followers, I was over the moon; there were so many people who were reading my blog.

In the past few months though, a change has come. I still smile when someone “follows” or “likes”. But I am the happiest when the orange button indicates a comment.

I’ve finally realised why I started blogging. What I wanted the most was conversation.

It’s not like I don’t have friends; I do, and they are great friends. But they all know me in bits and pieces. I discuss books with some, poetry with some, feminism with a few others. I talk about stuff close to my heart, the things that make me wonder, the things that I fear, my musings generally, with certain others. This blog is where all pieces of me come together wholly to form the mosaicked selfย  that I am.

Over time, I’ve figured out a rhythm for myself. I’ve developed a voice that I can see myself talking in. More importantly, I’ve become brave enough to put myself in the posts. I no longer feel the pressure to publish twice a week; I know now that thrice or four times a month is more suitable for me. I write what I actually want to write about, taking time to articulate what I have to say.

I never was comfortable writing poetry before. I think it has something to do with the fact that my father is a Ghazal writer. Ghazal is a very restrictive form of poetry; there are a lot of rules to be followed. Somehow I always felt it would be too much work to write poetry to be able to enjoy it. When I started blogging, I also started reading more blogs. Though I knew this before theoretically, it was only then that I finally internalised that poetry didn’t have to be restrictive. I have no idea whether my poetry is any good, but I don’t feel conscious about it anymore. I write it because I like to. Blogging has given me this gift.

It is here on this blog that I’ve talked about overcoming failures, about obedience, about being good. It is here that I’ve come to terms with why I am the way I am. It is here that I now feel I am enough.

Thank you. For reading, for sharing your thoughts, for conversing. I appreciate it.

The Blog Story: Why Do I Write?

Day #8 of Blogtember.

Thursday, September 12:ย Discuss ways that blogging or social media has changed you.

In third standard, I became fascinated by diary writing. There was something charming about keeping a secret diary and locking it in a special drawer. I tried keeping a regular diary. But I couldn’t. I had a great friend with whom I could share everything. I didn’t need a diary to vent out my feelings. When this friend left and I became alone, I could write freely. For two years, my diary was filled with long pages of typical teenage emotions, problems and experiences. Then again, I made a friend and my diary now sees less of me. But this time I didn’t completely stop writing. By now I had begun writing other things apart from my diary. And this writing made me happy.

Studies and entrance exams kept me busy for two years. And then, I just couldn’t get back to writing. I used to stare at my notebook hoping the words would come. They didn’t. Blogging began as an attempt to get back to writing. The earlier posts required a lot of efforts but it has become easier now. Especially these days, with Blogtember. ๐Ÿ™‚

writersnest

Discovering new blogs has been one of the best part of blogging. I’ve met some awesome bloggers; some of them are so unlike me that I would probably have never found people like them if it weren’t for blogging. So yes, blogging has helped me find people and ideas that are very different from me.

I love that somebody in some far off place takes the time to read what I’ve written, and that it resonates with them. It tells me that humans are pretty much the same all over the world, and what I write is bound to touch somebody. Blogging has given me a platform to be myself and find others like me.

I’ve written stories that I always wanted to write.

I’ve started enjoying writing poetry, something that I never attempted before.

I’ve written things that I strongly feel about.

And there seems to be an audience for everything!

I’ve never been fond of other forms of social media; I’ve never enjoyed sharing anything on social networking sites. Blogs have been the only form of social media where I’ve actually “connected” with people. They are like letters. And letters are always much more personal and touching.

It has been more than six months of blogging. And it has been a thoroughly enjoyable journey! ๐Ÿ™‚

Writers are…

So, one beautiful morning when I had nothing to do (I lie. I had tons of work and was too bored to do it), I Googled the following query: writers are

Here’s what was listed in suggestions:

writers-are-crazy

One positive thing: writers are engineers of the soul. Just one!

Now, you may have noticed that my blog’s name happens to be The “Writer’s” Nest. So this particular list of suggestions was almost a personal attack. Therefore, I’m going to go about busting (or not) these myths.

    1. Writers are crazy – I refuse to believe that only writers are. I think all of us have some amount of crazy within us. And I think it’s what keeps us going. Every one of us is a personal brand of weird.
    2. Writers are loners – Big lie. I don’t see any need to generalize. There are loners who are writers and there are writers who are loners. But then, there are also loners who are not writers and writers who are NOT loners. I know some personally. Case closed.
    3. Writers are weird – See 1.
    4. Writers are engineers of the soul – That’s a phrase used by Joseph Stalin. So does that bring down our tally of positive opinions to zero? No, we’ll consider it. ๐Ÿ™‚
    5. Writers are liars – I don’t know how they even came up with that! Just because we tell stories? Give me a break here!
    6. Writers are introverts – See 2
    7. Writers are insane – Yes, we have a few writers who did go insane. But there are thousands of others who didn’t! It has nothing to do with writing.
    8. Writers are alcoholics – Yeah, and lawyers smoke too much! And chefs are addicted to coffee! And don’t even get me started on the teachers! You see where I’m going with this?
    9. Writers are forgetful – and my blog’s name was…umm…let me see now…the writer’s…umm…the writer’s …
    10. Writers are desperate people – Huh?

The engineers fared slightly better thankfully. Ah, Google! At least we share our love for engineering. ๐Ÿ™‚

engineers-are-awesome

Have you people heard of silly myths about things that you love? Careers or interests?