An Idiot's Tale

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An Idiot's Tale

Cacography of a madcap story teller, JAYEETA GHORAI

(Found an old write up tucked away in my bomb shelter - must be earlier than dates were on the typescript so couldn't figure...)

Writers cannot be trusted to keep promises.

Some say I’m a disappointment to my name, my teachers, mother, sister, in short, everyone who matter.

I say, chuck the expectation and we can all live happy.

I chose not to lead men of power, instead to walk through slums to give tuition in the homes of clients, parents who come via agencies and haggle over rates. It was a conscious decision for which I can offer some vague philosophical notions of individualism. But I’ll stick with the truth: sheer laziness.

I cannot get up early in the morning, not day after day. It is a disease; I wish to hide it as one conceals a habit of drinking in the sly or drugs, secretly trying ones best to cope and failing miserably.

Also, I cannot reconcile to the one-upmanship, elbowing, cold-shouldering, backbiting, unction that vitiates most corporate offices. I have forgone the taste for being bullied long back in childhood. Choosing to side step rather than endure a system disgusting to my own has had leveled against me accusations of being a coward and incompetent. Even within myself I am aware of the implication of my stand.

On the few instances I was driven to study the employment page, my ineligibility became painfully clear. There is a plethora of openings for the computer, management and B. Ed. trained, none of which I tried to be while there was still time. I had thrown to the wind in youth my chances to ‘catch a line’, the local euphemism for picking a profession, and suffer for being neither a fresher nor having ever reached a mid-level managerial post. All things considered, I find non-organizational teaching the most suitable flexi-work available to me.

As I sit in my room the rest of the day etching word upon word into perfect fiction or essay, this remains the story of my life.

In the meanwhile we continue to have excellent one-sided conversations in which my family tries to convince me of the futility of my efforts, determined to drag me to real offices to do real jobs. Private tuition has the vagaries of every other field without its stability or brand image.

“No respect,” my mother scathingly observes. (Or should I say, unfailingly sneers?)

Need I add, in these highly educative discourses I’m on the silent side? I could never win against “It’s for your own good.”

The road to hell is paved with good intentions was written by someone with a sense of humour and relatives.

Mine are merciless in cross-questioning the finer points of my professional harakiri, facts I cannot refute. True, I am open to whimsical requests for time change. But it works both ways, hence to my advantage, helping to accommodate the occasional flood of more than excess imagination.

Academic yearends hurt. The break between annual exam and promotion is a period of uncertainty. Though I may have virtuously not disowned a student in mid-term whatever be the compulsion or provocation, the parent shows no such compunction, politely demobbing me or sanctioning unpaid leave for the span. I don’t hold it against them, being a champion of personal freedom and all that but it definitely does not help.

The pay is good, once the session rolls, especially compared to the hours I put in. While it doesn’t exactly set the cash register rolling, I manage to bring a thin bacon home. My cyber bills get paid, postage bought and we’re not starving. For the moment it is enough. This appalling lack of monetary ambition is soundly condemned – that’s right, it’s a pun.

“Why not work more for better pay?” my sister wails.

No, I don’t want to does not apparently qualify for an answer.

I listen to the harangue in silent wonder for the first person, a teacher in school, who foresaw I had the makings of a writer long before I could see it myself. She suggested journalism.

A writing career in any other form hadn’t crossed her mind.

I didn’t choose writing as a conscious profession, it chose me. To anyone who has not been bitten by the bug this is a difficult concept to explain. I write for the simple satisfaction of looking at a paper and seeing it say exactly what I want it to say. After a fruitful day my heart pirouettes. Nothing since school has given me this much pleasure.

That’s where I did myself in, the sibling points out gravely, spewing promise early in life from which there’s no getting away.

If allowed to edge in a word I’d remind her I enjoyed studies without the encashment benefits. Measuring merit by grade cards and employer profile or the thickness of the purse is a social malaise, a dangerous by product of the survival process. I’m forever learning even if it amounts to no more than a character sketch, the setting of my next story or plain fun.

Did you know, for example, each house has a distinct smell?

Each child has at least one pet quirk to beat you with? (Thank god they aren’t in a consortium.)

Picasso carried a gun loaded with blanks to fire at whoever asked the meaning of his work? (Now that’s a thought.)

Having taught for some years now, I understand it is natural to expect of ones wards, an adult should practice insouciance, master/mistress of no other life but one’s own.

And here I beg to differ with Ma. Respectability is an abstraction that should be but seldom is, separable from public opinion, which is the most fickle of human agencies. In the end you live with yourself and should find it agreeable. Life is too precious to waste chasing other people’s dreams…about you. ‘I could have been a _______ if…’ is easy excuse. Situations are never right unless one has the courage to make them so. There is no such thing as a better opportunity.

Talents are ones own to find un-waylaid by opinions and once found, however late in the day, to be loyally and steadily eased into. The world is too full of people leading second-rate lives. (Did I just make that up or had someone already said it?)

Cerebral stirrings don’t have the appearance of industry but produces something that ultimately must sell, not ironically, if I’m to keep alive and telling my tales. My family is frightened that this might not be, considering the statistics of all who never find readership; to be honest I’m just as scared sometimes.

Success has its charmed circle and soul-destroyingly noisy sidelines.

Will I be distracted? Can I be scared off?

I should think not.




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