Posts by admin:
- SSOA published some remarkable books in the year 2016. What are the challenges that an independent publisher faces in Sydney?
- How long have you been teaching creative writing? Why did you choose such a
- You write stories as well. How far does teaching creative writing differ from actual creative writing?
- You have written two biographies of prominent people, the novelist Christina Stead and the philosopher, J. Krishnamurti, who was Indian-born but lived most of his life in England and the United States. Does the writing of fiction have much in common with writing non-fiction such as biography?
- Most of your stories carry a personal element in them. How far do you think a writer’s personal life should be reflected in her or his creative practices?
- How much editing is required in the work of the writers you publish?
- So you edit everything from poetry to novels? Which of these genres is easy and which tough?
- If writing is purely a talent, what is the duty of a creative writing teacher – and does a writer also have a duty?
- Self-publishing firms encourage democracy in publishing books. Are you happy about the way companies such as Amazon publish and sell books?
- What is the role of an editor in the contemporary creative writing scene?
“Truth is absolute and it never damages a cause that is just.”-Mahatma Gandhi
Absoluteness of Moral Laws
If, we believe that we are living in a systematic universe; the reality of universal, unchanging timeless truths follows from this very basic proposition of organized universe. Considering this proposition to be true, one can easily hypothesize the existence of moral truths- moral law. These moral laws would always be overarching and higher than and any-other social, statutory laws of society, customs and traditions. It would remain individual’s job to discover these set of laws by exploring within him, these moral laws are analogous to discovering the laws of physical science or physics. Thus, moral laws are universal in nature and application; however we often use subjective labels to interpret these moral laws, these subjective labels are largely based on our biases towards societal and cultural norms, here the absoluteness of the moral laws is always intact but, the problem is with our own interpretation. Due, to such individual differences in the interpretation of moral laws we are likely to consider moral laws as subjective and relative however, in reality moral laws are absolute and objective driven. In similar line, we can argue that single moral truth is always absolute but, its interpretation depends on who is seeing it and from what perspective.
Ethics and Morals
Although ethics and morals are largely, related to right and wrong conduct. There is significant difference between these two words ethics are generally provided by the external source, mostly society, while moral refers to an individual’s own interpretation regarding right and wrong. Ethics are largely culture driven, while morals are more or less individualistic. Consequently, it would not be wrong to say that the summation of more and more individualistic moral’s gives rise to accepted ethics, therefore rationally the basic unit of change in accepting universal moral law should come from an individual not from the society, here one thing should also be very clear that, mere acceptance of moral law is not important, right interpretation of moral law is imperative. To consider these set of morals or ethics as valuable or important we come across two important words ethical values and moral values. Moreover, considering ethics and moral’s as a value the prime fundamental question which is to be answered is ‘What sought of value creation’ is done through ethics and morals generally speaking ethical and moral values enables an individual to act during the time of crises, dilemma and confusion. It usually generates tangible impact, a specific contribution to any situation. The impact can be in form of achieving a specific goal or solving an immediate problem. In business an individual generally come’s across situations were decision making is to be done, thus moral and ethical values are critical for a business.
Morals & Ethics in Business: Importance of Intension
Now, solely focusing our discussion towards business, we can see that by its fundamental definition “business is an organization or economic systems were exchange of goods and service takes place in return of money”. taking into account the above mentioned definition of business one can easily interpret that there is a natural inclination of business towards generating cash in terms of profit; therefore it is most likely that individuals or organizations operating businesses will always tend to encounter crucial decisions and dilemma arising out of the micro and macro environment in which business transactions are usually functioned. On one hand the larger objective of business is to generate large amount of profit/cash through more and more exchanges with customers. On another hand it is also vital to keep a check by what means you are operating and facilitating your transactions. In the contemporary times of intense business competition, to gain immediate returns through huge profit many organizations resort to potentially controversial issues such as insider trading, bribery, discrimination, fraud, black marketing, window dressing of accounts, selling counterfeit products etc. The types or categories of unethical and morally wrong conducts in business transactions can be numerous, and it would not feasible enough to discuss each of these here at a length. However, the most critical point here is to gauge the moral premise of a business organization on the basis of its prime motive or intension. If the business organization’s central objective is only profit making, then it can be easily inferred that the chances of deflection from the set of moral laws are higher for such profit centric businesses in comparison to the non-profit centric businesses. Non-profit centric businesses are not essentially unwilling to generate profit, but they are the one’s who have the prime motto of service to the society as their central focus of business. At, no cost they will keep their stakeholders unhappy for the want of profit. In the case of non-profit centric businesses the profit is a reward not a return, it is the reciprocation of the payment for their well-appreciated and superior service. The profit-centric business takes profit as ends; it also takes profit has performance measure or benchmark, while non-profit centric business takes profit as by-product ,superior service to customers and satisfaction of the various stakeholders is the main objective. Thus, in profit centric businesses degree of dissociation from moral truths is higher, because here money is not merely, taken as medium of exchange of service or products, instead it is taken as major yardstick to judge business acumen, hence in profit centric businesses individuals always thrive to gain accumulation of cash/profits by any means.
When the higher purpose of business that is service to society or stakeholder is considered the standard measures of accounting, the profit and loss account and the financial sheet do not hold much importance. As matter of fact, the limitations of these quantitative measurements have been known to us since long time; however we still traditionally go with these measures to gauge the health of the business referring to these quantitative measures, we often tend to ignore strong qualitative measures which are hardly reflected any balance sheet. These qualitative measures comprises of the moral values like trust, relationships, human capital, employee morale and loyalty.
Significance of moral and ethical values in competitive business ecology
Taking into account, the present situation of any business, one might argue that business today are highly competitive and contest driven, how can one maintain moral and ethical standards in such a dynamic environment when the values itself are so fluid and irreverent. The answer to this question might not be simple but, it is not impossible either. Here the lens of quantitative measures of business has to be removed first, instead focus on the qualitative measures as stated in previous section. The collective ethics of the industry might be different from your moral point of view, because their focus and motivation might be different from you, there might also be situations were industry practices in general justify their moral standings to be true even though they are wrong. In such situations individual’s own moral viewpoint essentially backed with socio-service centric views has to be implied, the standards of the competition are set collectively by an individual’s therefore, here a single individual with different mindset can change the rules of the game. He can be a change agent responsible to bring back the morality standards. Almost every book on power and leadership identifies moral values and integrity as a key characteristics needed to be a successful leader in any field, business is also not an exception here. Thus, the change in corporate consciousness and morality largely depends on the leadership and the values of the single leader at a given point of time. There are ample amount of examples of business leaders today who have become role models and public heroes because of their personal integrity and commitment towards uncompromised moral standards.
The need of an hour in present competitive era is to change our yardstick of measurement- It needs a transition, a transition from mere a numerical measurement of business towards more qualitative value measurement of impactful business which serves the society, were profit would automatically finds it place as reward not as return. If we can facilitate such transition it can be easily understood that –“Individualistic morality cannot be out of fashion in business at any given point of time.” because by our own assumption of universe, moral laws are absolute independent of time and space. Society at large still appreciates the moral virtues of honesty, truthfulness and loyalty. It is also mostly anticipated that the business organization also follow the same moral virtues for their long term perpetual existence. The pillar of the moral foundation for business rests on two important intrinsic values, trust and creditability it also, takes maximum time for an organization or business to build these values, and the reputation of business organization is always at stake if these virtues are not adhered rigorously over a period of time.
On, concluding note we can elucidate that morality and ethics has been the inseparable parts of man’s personality since his existence on the planet. The question of manifestation of individual morality and accepted ethics still remains a pertinent problem in competitive ecology of present business; however you can easily answer this question by self –introspection – “Taking righteous decision through your own conscience” should be emphasized decision should not be taken in comparison with others ethics. Moreover, competition in positive sentiments is nothing but “Realizing your own potential and worth” and let the best virtue or talent come out from the rest of the competitors is the prime adage or motive behind competition. In this context of competition businesses comprising of individuals should try to co-create ecosystem of business which is essentially value driven with morality at its focal point. Further, in this present information age morality and ethics in business has gain prominence in form of corporate governance, the backbone of the corporate governance is transparency and accountability. With the rising competition more and more business houses now emphasize on transparency and accountability which can be easily facilitated due revolutionary changes in information technology. Transparency and accountability are crucial moral and ethical barometers which are no longer viewed as the insignificant components; rather they are invariably used as a strategic tool for establishing faith and goodwill among the stake holders. Thus as a part of good reforming practices on moral and ethical grounds , transparency in governance is must, which inevitably provides assurance to the stakeholders about the dealings of the organization and it promotes the overall integrity of an organization.
Finally, the perpetuity of any business organization depends on fostering genuine relationships with the various stakeholders. The genuineness of the relationship with stakeholders can only last long if moral and ethical premise of an organization are clear and unambiguous. Harnessing these genuine relationships guided with strong moral conscience business organization can surely be comprehensive, competitive and sustainable.
Mr. Malay R. Patel is presently working as Assistant Professor, AURO University. He is M.Sc. (Paints & Polymer Sciences) and M.B.A (Marketing and Human Resource Management). He has qualified UGC-NET in Management and UGC-NET in Labour Welfare/Human Resources/Industrial Relations along with a Certification of Coating Inspector from National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE- CIP Level-1). Currently, he is pursuing his doctoral studies in Strategic Management from Sardar Patel University. Prior, to AURO University he was working as an Academic Associate with Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad in Business policy area for two years. He also had a brief stint in academics at Indian Institute of Management, Indore and Central Institute of Plastic Engineering and Technology, Ahmedabad before joining IIM, Ahmedabad. Apart from his profession, he writes on human emotions, ethics and .
This article is an observational report which focuses on the changes post martial law on Taiwan. The end of 38 years of martial law on 15th July 1987 is etched in gold as‘ a new milestone’ for the democracy in the country when the then President formally announced the end of martial law. This historic decision ushered in a new wind of democracy and freedom. This article notes that Taiwan has experienced a drastic growth in the past 31 years. Especially the media boom on the island is commendable. Taiwan’s cultural, social and political development following the government’s decision to uplift the martial law around 3 decades back has raised hopes of many nations’ dreams of liberation from their mundane form of government. This article emphasizes on understanding the progress that Taiwan as a nation has made in the past three decades and factors that were pivotal in their pursuit of excelling.
The period of martial law imposition in Taiwan lasted for 38 years beginning from 19th May 1949 which had been the longest period of martial law in the history of mankind until Syria was imposed the same law in 1963. The February 28 incident that is notorious for its execution of tens of thousands of Taiwanese who opposed the Chinese Nationalist Party led by Chiang Kaishek paved way for the beginning of ‘White Terror’ era in Taiwan.
February 28 massacre
Emergency powers were placed in the hands of the president, the citizens were completely deprived of their rights relating to freedom of speech, press and assembly or in other words the former officially became a taboo. On scrutinizing the era, what was inexplicably evident was the use of education and propaganda as the ample tools for stifling local culture and an attempt to erase 50 years of Japanese colonial rule. But as a person of the advancing 21st century, a poignant question that one may raise is how the uplifting of martial law in Taiwan has equipped the country to mature over the time. Taiwan no less than other countries will be labeled as how it responds to these plights.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen
Keeping the debate over the past aside, the actuality that Taiwan has altered itself into a fullfledged democracy over the past few decades is appreciable with its torchlight of leading thecountry to the pinnacle of success being handed over to Tsai Ing-wen who was sworn in as the first female president of Taiwan. This indeed was a silent proclamation to the world that the 30 year long martial law has only made Taiwan more mature. There was an air of optimism and change across the country. Taiwan was a ray of hope amidst the sea of disparity. The 30 year long wait in Taiwan has brought changes in the freedom, legal aspects and many arenas of civilian priority. Being the first government in Asia to legalize same sex marriage, Taiwan has taken strenuous efforts in stepping up to help and protect the minority. One of the laudable changes that the toddling democracy has brought in is the change over old circumstance of denying the respondent’s right to access a lawyer The initiation of nullifying almost all the emergency decrees evidently signifies the country’s sincere effort to establish a people’s government.
Even after the end of martial law Taiwan still faces constraints. In the past years Taiwan has kept on exterminating the shackles of old political limitations. Moreover it has to a greater extent accomplished the herculean task of achieving liberation and freedom for individual mentalities,
social culture and collective consciousness. The flourishing political scenario and thriving social activism are the culmination of the enhancement of creative and cultural industries in the recent years. This upshot is especially attractive for the reason that a strong Taiwanese identity separate from a Chinese identity has bloomed from the past couple of decades.
Taiwan as a de facto independent nation yet, due to Chinese pressure without international recognition is increasingly unsatisfactory to an island of 24 million. China claims Taiwan as a part of its territory despite the island’s effectual split from the mainland. It is a firm conviction of
ours that the stable rise of China will have huge consequences for Taiwan, almost all will be bad. Moreover once China rises as the power saturated region of the oriental it will be deeply committed to making Taiwan part of China. Nevertheless, ties have warmed by a long way, only time will tell whether the cross-strait relations remain likewise. Taiwan did not undergo a unique transition. In fact it followed the world trend – accelerated
liberalization and democratization. Taiwan is one of the many countries whose gain of freedom has proceeded linearly upward. However, one may straightforwardly find that Taiwan in fact lived by the words of Albert Camus – “Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better”.
(n.d.). Retrieved from outreahfortaiwan.org.
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Campbell, C. (2016). Tsai Ing-wen Becomes Taiwan’s First Female President. TIME .
Campbell, C. (2016). Tsai Ing-wen Becomes Taiwan’s First Female President. TIME .
Rampal, K. R. (1994). Post-martial law media boom in Taiwan. SAGE journals.
Taiwan Ends 4 Decades of Martial Law. (1987). New York Times .
Taiwan’s post-martial law development under the microscope at UCLA forum. (2017). Taiwan Today .
Wen, L. H. (2017, July 15th). Thirty years on, memories of martial rule in Taiwan.
Writer’s Dreams, Editor’s Knife and Seller’s Rack: Contemporary Tendencies in Creative Writing – Interiview with Dr Christine Williams, Director, Sydney School of Arts & Humanities by Dr. Syam Sudhakar, KeralaMarch 12th, 2018
Several universities, colleges and their boards of studies are yet to accept Creative Writing as one among their major courses. It is evident that there is an outsized demand for such courses as the number of vibrant and upcoming writers (or aspirants) is generally high when a creative writing workshop is conducted in the right place, and if properly advertised. Many writers, irrespective of their age and experience, are successful in conducting Creative Writing classes. Though the number of writers who have become financially sound using their writing skills, in both English and regional languages, is not prodigious, the number of literary carnivals and book festivals are increasing every year. Online book market is by no means flourishing in India, although writers self-publishing and print on demand have become common. In this context, the role of an editor or a Creative Writing Coach in the contemporary publishing domain is a major subject to be problematized.
It was perhaps during Aristotle’s time that the Western literary criticism started focusing on the style and method of literary genres. A study of the thoughts behind the process of writing flourished especially during the Modernity , where the entire European knowledge system was influenced by post-industrial and neo-liberal epistemological enquiries in the 19th Century and Post- Nietzschean nihilistic and existential 20th Century. Self-reflective writings of French symbolist poets such as Charles Baudelaire, Paul Valery and Stephane Mallarme and the Bohemian Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke; observations of Virginia Wolf and Henry James on various aspects of novel writing; impressions and speculations of playwrights such as Ibsen, Bertolt Brecht and Tennessee Williams; all these offer a rich platform for the development of an academic endeavor to form a strong philosophical foundation for the theory of creative writing.
Paul Dawson, Adele Ramet, Hazel Smith, Anna Leahy, Paul Mills are a few contemporary names who have explored the multiple nuances of creative writing from various corners of the world, which through their writings and creative writing classes have encouraged upcoming writers. Critics of creative writing often focus on various aspects such as the initial thought process, collecting materials both from memory and through proper historical research, laying a format to write publications and a writing project’s scope. Some of them try to bring down the high philosophical interrogations into a more democratic place and make it accessible for a popular culture. The ‘simple’ and ‘encouraging’ tone of their books proves this.
As mentioned earlier, there are several writers who opened creative writing courses across the globe; most of them are small scale publishers. It is interesting to analyze the development in the number of small scale publishing industries, their way of selling books and the marketing ideologies of these new firms. Dr. Christine Williams is one among them who owns a private business called Sydney Schools of Arts and Humanities (SSOA) and is a prominent creative writer based in Sydney, Australia. She holds a Doctorate of Creative Arts, has written a short story collection and four biographical works including the biographies of Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti and Australian novelist Christina Stead.
Here’s a brief conversation with Dr. Christine Williams which I conducted in February 2017 when she visited India to give a keynote address in a conference at Hyderabad.
Yes, I agree, remarkable books! A biography of life in Burma (now Myanmar) under military rule, some poetry, a short story from an Italian novelist (called “Arco”) and our first novel by a local writer, “Reported Missing”. And challenges … wow, no end of challenges – nurturing emerging writers from the kernel of an idea of their story right through to a completed manuscript – and then comes the rewriting and editing. Anyone who hasn’t had a book published thinks it’s a pushover to be a writer whereas only those initiated into the mysteries know that it takes a lot of talent plus sheer hard work.
Well, I’ve been teaching for many years – always as an adjunct to being a practitioner. First I taught radio production while I was a radio producer and presenter, then journalism as I’d trained as a journalist, and only later I began to teach creative writing community classes when I was studying for a doctorate. It was easy to slide into tutoring and lecturing, but I’ve always liked the down-to-earth quality of teaching community groups. People walk in off the street or find us via internet, and you never know what stories will turn up – whether biographical or fictional. Now we have a democratic feel to our teaching through meet ups, with not so much instruction and more sharing of our styles and approaches to writing by reading out loud in small groups, for feedback. It means that rather than getting lost in the story itself, participants learn about techniques as they listen: how a plot is developed week by week, the subtleties of clever characterisation, the range of voices and styles that can be effective in writing, depending on genre.
Oh, it’s so different – but who better to teach creative writing than a writer herself? Writing is mostly a lonely occupation … an act of creation involving your mind, your fingers and a piece of paper or, more often these days, a screen. So patience and a strong back are essential! Plus a tad of talent.[Laughs.]
I don’t know anyone who can toss off a brilliant piece of writing first up. Almost everything you write that is longer than one sentence can be improved on reflection. You can certainly catch a brilliant flash of an idea or some phrases that pass through your mind and set them down quickly, but you need to take time for the tea, the chai, to brew, as it were. Or for the first bud to open up to full bloom.
Being alone long enough to develop a set of short stories or a novel, at least months on end, more often years, means you sometimes yearn to share your love of story. That’s why we’ve formed the Sydney Writers’ Circle meet up, coming together weekly, which gives an incentive to those taking part to complete a chapter or a few poems, for instance, to share with others. It’s a bit like waiting for the next episode in a TV series. I find the best atmosphere for our groups is non-academic, meaning no competition, but plenty of encouragement in finding what you like about a piece of writing, what works well, and letting the emerging writer know what you think was splendid in the writing, instead of concentrating on the faults, or flaws. Every writer has flaws and they can be pointed out gently, after some praise, so that the writer doesn’t lose heart and over time comes to recognise how she or he can improve.
A hard question because it depends so much on particular writers’ approaches to writing. No two writers are the same, although they must all share some sense of discipline, otherwise their work would never be completed. I find mornings are best for writing, while you’re still fresh. Whether writing fiction or non-fiction, I think it’s also best to read some part of the previous day’s output, so that you don’t fly off in a different style or tone. You need to keep consistency. Both fiction and biography require research in and on detail because that’s what carries the reader along with you, brings a story to life. This should be undertaken before you launch into writing in any genre, though of course biography is the more research-based genre. But you can research for years and unless you can capture the heart of the subject and can form a strong narrative out of the assortment of background information you find, you won’t know why you’ve written the story – and nor will the reader! You need purpose in writing, and that way the reader will be satisfied with the story you’ve told.
At the turn of the 20th century in Sydney, a young woman with a talent for writing is set to become a teacher and falls in love with an out-and-out cad. But she is not suited to teaching, and the guy sails off to London. She scrimps and saves for a year for the fare in order to follow him, only to find when she reaches London that he is not worth crossing the road for, let alone sailing halfway round the globe. She finds an office job with a banker who also happens to be a published novelist, she falls in love with him because he’s so gentle, kind and intelligent, and goes on to become a major internationally acclaimed novelist herself. Now there’s a story! Does it sound like fiction or biography to you? It’s the true life story of Christina Stead.
I’ve also written some biographies of less well-known characters and I always look for the driving force of their lives. You do the same when you’re developing a fictional character. To be believable a character needs to be shown to have consistency so that a reader gains a sense from what you write that they might expect certain behaviour… yes, the character would speak out to challenge those values, or no, she’s much too well-mannered to slap a man’s face or kick him in the stomach, for example. And the story needs to have fulfilled a purpose, preferably with a memorable climax.
It’s a funny thing, but when you write a story and it seems quite credible, the first thing most people ask is whether it really happened. Just one percent of the story might be based on your own life, or the life of a friend, and rather than realise that you’ve simply used it as a springboard for a fictional tale to entertain or stimulate, a reader takes what you’ve written as a piece of memoir. Young writers are encouraged to write what they know, because if they venture too far from that they might not have the maturity to develop a theme or to plot a realistic narrative or embellish action for a rounded characterisation. They might show their lack of knowledge of the school of hard knocks that is life. It’s very hard to write completely beyond your experiential knowledge base (even in science fiction) but even so, readers should not be so easily deceived by the tricks of the writing trade.
Different writers use differing degrees of drawing on their own experience to ‘make up’ a story. I can only think that it’s a kind of compliment to your fictional writing that a reader believes it is all true.
I’ve recently published a selection of short stories under the name C V Williams (also available through Amazon) which provided fertile writing ground for me to play with reflections of some situations or characters from my life – which I’ve turned inside out or recast, in a post-modern style re-reading and re-writing of the art of fictional biography. The title of the short story selection is “a grain of truth a pinch of salt” so I hope that conveys the mid-field positioning of so-called facts that can be re-viewed and de-contextualised so that many readers may see reflections of their own lives in the fiction I’ve created. In the award-winning movie, “LA LA Land”, the screenwriter, Damien Chazelle, aims for a similar effect in reworking the bones of 1950s Hollywood musicals to reconstruct a fantasy love story which is not singly biographical so much as a version of what most lovers can relate to from their own lives.
The great contemporary American novelist, Jonathan Franzen, explained in an interview during the 2016 Sydney Writers’ Festival, “Your own life is not the stuff of fiction exactly,” and went on to refer to exaggeration, saying he doesn’t like to talk about the biographical sources of his fiction.
Again, it’s variable, depending on the writer. Some people are perfectionists, and that’s a great quality as long as the person isn’t obsessional, taking their rewrites beyond the value of the story itself. As an author it’s best to reach a point where you hand over the manuscript in the knowledge that you’ve done your best and can put your trust in the editor’s judgment that the cake is cooked already. If you want to write another story, then go ahead, rather than try to turn the narrative of a manuscript in a new direction.
Of course there are also writers who are lazy and want to leave the hard work to an editor. For example, relying on the editor’s knowledge of grammar and punctuation, instead of going through their own story with a fine tooth comb. That’s not allowed! [Laughs.]
You should think of your story as a gift to the world, so it needs to be displayed in platinum wrapping paper with a bow tie or cherry on top. Or, you know what I mean …
You’d like to think that poetry would be easier because it’s more concise – yet it presents its own challenges. You see, no matter what the publication, every word counts. In a poem, the message should be stripped bare yet convey a mood with extraordinary sensitivity. It’s not an easy task to intervene in a poem to assist without risking some gaucheness. My experience in editing poetry has been with translated texts, which adds another dimension because the success of the poem can lie so directly in the adeptness of the translator.
When it comes to novels, this focus on every word is writ large. And the several editors that are employed by SSOA are both writers and editors so they’re experienced in both creation and refinement of the art of writing. You have so much more to consider in every sentence of a novel, especially its interconnection with every other sentence in the unfolding of the story. Consistency is a major concern – of character, of plot, of pacing, of the weather or season, the colour of a character’s shoes, even perhaps the impact of the sound of a bird’s call. Continuity is as high a priority as for a film, so it needs to be double-checked for accuracy. The novelist is all-powerful in creating a world but then is imprisoned by it and must observe the rules of that world – the pleasures and cares, the number and quality of characters and objects – manifest in all the detail that he or she has created.
I’m not sure what you’re implying here, because many hopefuls have talent but only a few develop that talent into a successful outcome. In India I believe you have a deep faith in the idea of the destiny of a chosen few. By contrast, Australia is generally a democratic country and the culture encourages an attitude of a potential in everyone, and that any individual with a talent in a certain direction must work hard with focus to succeed – using strong will and plenty of sweat. There are natural strengths but they can’t be taken for granted. So I believe the duty of a creative writing teacher is to assist a person who has either a dream to become a writer, or more importantly, some idea to convert into writing which would be valuable for others to read from a moral, social, political or entertainment point of view. A potential writer surely has not so much a duty, but a privilege, to make the most of his or her life, and talent, and take up the opportunities that come along to persist in the practice of writing.
Democracy is one thing. A multinational tax-savvy, profit-making business is another and it’s a myth that Amazon operates to assist poor struggling writers or that you can become a millionaire as a result of being listed on Amazon. How is anyone going to find your book among the hundreds of millions available on the site, I ask you? It’s a random and rare occurrence that any writer might conquer the world, and writers such as J. K. Rowling, Stephen King, Paulo Coelho, James Patterson, Danielle Steele or Stephenie Meyer would have been found and picked up by traditional publishers at one time or another anyway.
That said, Sydney School of Arts & Humanities sells the work of our authors through Amazon and Apple and other major online retailers worldwide, as part of our publishing contract for global network reach. We are active on many social media sites and encourage our individual writers to maintain high profiles, as it’s really only by getting the message out there that sales and reputation can expand. As an emerging writer it’s more valuable for you to be judged by your peers, to be accepted by a publisher with experience in assessing manuscripts, and to join a stable of authors even in a small publishing house – rather than strike out completely on your own, not only risking publication of a sub-standard book but trying to negotiate the maze of internet marketing which is essential for sales these days.
But the most important factor in sales remains the writer’s ability to tell a graphic and formidable story in tune with the values of many niche markets, and if possible, the market as a whole. A bestseller in one decade can easily lie on a remaindered desk the next – and the writer completely forgotten twenty years later.
With more and more emphasis on universities as the source of accomplished creative writers over the past twenty years, there has lately arisen more interest in publishers being invited into the academic fold. It’s important for any aspiring writer to have a knowledge of what has come before – in other words to be a reader, to understand the history of writing in their own culture and language, as well as in English, since English literature dominates the world of writing in range and versatility, and especially with the number of readers of English as a second language increasing every year. As university English departments and Arts faculties recognize the vocational possibilities for their talented students, I believe there will be greater interaction between the educational and marketing streams of creative writing, to the advantage of emerging writers. As long as creativity is not repressed or censored in the interests of safe marketing, to the detriment of that well-spring of intellectual joy and fecundity, originality in writing.
Note: The interview with Dr. Christine Williams ends here.
Rilke in his Letters to a Young Poet, which can be very well considered as a manifesto of creative writing, points out the importance of solitude that a writer has to keep and also about how he or she can equip themselves by reading and understanding earlier art forms. Leo Tolstoy in his What is Art? also considered writing as a sincere practice of a writer where he or she experiences a feeling and conveys the same emotion to the readers. From these classical views on art and literature, it is evident that the role of an editor was always kept unsaid; perhaps it remains hidden in the glorious and shining aura of the Author or Artist. The time has come to interrogate such notions about artwork and critics should go deeply into the different dimensions within the creation of a work of art. The text now is not a mere or separate entity by itself in the whole system as there is a scope to study about the thought and technical process behind a work of art; its political and cultural context and also about its range and market.
In most cases, the popular readers tend to look only at the plot or the idea that has been described in a text. In traditional literature classes too, the teacher talks only about nuances such as – theme, structure, plot, characters, the biography of the author and the socio political context of the author and the text. But, for instance, when we teach Chetan Bhagat in a classroom, the name Shinie Antony always remains hidden as very few people actually know that she is the editor and the master key behind the success of the author Chetan Bhagat. Studies could be conducted focusing on the actual manuscript of the text and how much input the editor has given to enhance it.
This showcases that most of the ‘real’ happenings behind the stage remain unseen and the popular reader or researcher always tends to see what has been seen before his eyes, evidently. It is high time that we should start thinking and researching about what is happening behind the stage, the mechanism behind the whole publishing industry and how a work of art has been created – what is all the information added and removed according to the market politics. Such studies taken seriously will definitely create new methodologies in literary studies, which will expand the existing boundaries of literature/art studies. Proper fieldwork, collecting manuscripts and taking interviews of authors, publishers and editors would be a recommended methodology.
Antony, Shinie. “Meet Shinie Antony, Chetan Bhagat’s Editor and Cofounder of the Bangalore Literature Festival.” The Economic Times, 17 July 2015, economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/meet-shinie-antony-chetan-bhagats-editor-and-cofounder-of-the-bangalore-literature-festival/articleshow/48111414.cms.
Dawson, Paul. Creative Writing and the New Humanities. London, Routledge, 2005.
Franzen, Jonathan, and Sarah Kanowski.“Jonathan Franzen in Conversation.” Radio National, ABC, 4 Dec. 2016, www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/booksandarts/jonathan-franzen/8016284.
Harper, Graeme. On Creative Writing.Bristol, UK, Multilingual Matters, 2010.
Leahy, Anna. Power and Identity in the Creative Writing Classroom: the Authority Project. Clevedon, Multilingual Matters, 2005.
Mills, Paul. The Routledge Creative Writing Coursebook. London, Routledge, 2006.
Ramet, Adele. Creative Writing: How to Unlock Your Imagination and Develop Your Writing Skills. Oxford, How To Books, 2010.
Rilke, Rainer Maria. Letters to a Young Poet. New York, Vintage, 1984.
Smith, Hazel. The Writing Experiment: Strategies for Innovative Creative Writing. Crows Nest, N.S.W., Allen &Unwin, 2005.
Tolstoy, Leo. What Is Art? London, Bristol, 1994.
Williams, Christine. Christina Stead: A Life of Letters. Melbourne, McPhee Gribble, 1989.
—. “Coaching & Mentoring at Sydney School of Arts & Humanities.”Sydney School of Arts & Humanities, 23 Aug. 2013, ssoa.com.au/services/coaching/.
—. JidduKrishnamurti: World Philosopher. Millers Point, New South Wales, Sydney School of Arts & Humanities, 2012.
Dr. Syam Sudhakar,
Department of English,
St.Thomas’ College, Kerala
Once there was a spiritual aspirant named Krishna Das. He was in search of an enlightened master. He was 25.
When he was a little kid, he saw an enlightened person leaving his body. He told the exact time of his death and at the same time, he left his body. He was overflowing or bursting with an ineffable joy while leaving the body. This incident has become a turning point in Krishna das’ life. This decided the course of his life.
He used to attend every spiritual gathering in the town. He did not marry so that he could dedicate himself entirely to the service of the master and fulfill his life’s only mission that is God-realization. He started firstly running away from home in search of the master and used to come back, but later on, he ran away once for all and ended up as a vagabond. He went to various pilgrimage places to search his master. He did not find any genuine master, however, he found many frauds and half-baked spiritual people who claimed that they are enlightened, but their presence and guidance could not give him the even the glimpse of the spiritual world. So he left them in just a few days.
Finally, he decided to go to the Himalayas. At that time journey to the Himalayas was not easy as nowadays as this was a story which happened almost a five decades back. It was all on the feet. It took two months him to reach the Himalayas from where he was. During the journey, he met various saints and hermits who were very advanced spiritually, but still, they were not enlightened. They have to yet accomplish a great task which is self-realization. He had a philosophy that a blind cannot lead a blind. To realize my true self, I must come in contact with such a person has got enlightenment.
When he reached the Himalayas he was filled with an awe to see the majestic Himalayas-an abode of Lord Shiva and myriad of great yogis. It was more fresh and alive than what we see in the pictures and paintings. Mind was calm like no other day, but cold had been just unendurable. He was ravenous and exhausted, but there was nothing but white snow.
He had minimum clothes to protect himself from the unbearable chilled breezes of the Himalayas. In the night, the temperature went even more down. He was quivering from gelidity. He thought that he would not survive till morning.
‘All my life I just searched a perfect spiritual master, but did not find him, but now I am going to die. To meet master is my last wish. O, God! Be Gracious if I ever loved you more than anyone else in my life. Would you not fulfill my last wish?’Prayed Krishna Das and fall asleep.
It was extremely dark night as it was a new moon day. Suddenly a voice came. Your search ends here. I have been waiting for you for many years. Finally, I have found a true disciple who dares to die in search of truth.
The voice seemed off the wall in the midnight, especially in the Himalayas, yet he opened his eyes. He found a luminous figure. He was having a snow white long beard and moustache. He wore only a dhoti (a long loin cloth) in such a cold climate. His eyes were having uncanny shine and attraction in them. His whole body was shining like pure gold. He seemed as if he were an angel.
‘I accept you as my disciple’, said the luminous figure.
‘I accept you as my guru as I can’t help it. An irresistible force is attracting me towards you. You are my master’, Krishna Das said.
‘I am Krishna Das, I surrender myself fully to you ’, he added.
‘Who are you, divine being, my master, my life?’
‘I am a Hatha Yogi and living in the Himalayas since two hundred years. When I got enlightenment, I felt an utter disgust for the world and decided to live in the Himalayas. I have found only one true disciple so far, His name is Chaitanya, and another one is you. Everyone seeks a genuine master, but no one wants to become a genuine disciple or a seeker.’ said the luminous figure. ‘If they become a genuine disciple, they would right away find the genuine master. If you are sincere enough you would realize God in this very life that I assure you.
Path of spirituality is full of trial and tribulations. If one is not alert or aware all the time he might lose his precious gems in just a few seconds.
What is your name, master? Asked Krishna Das
My name is ‘Urdhvareta.’
He asked what’s your name means.
The word ‘Urdhava’ in Sanskrit language means up and ‘retas’ means the vital energy of the body. The people whose vital energy moves upward always and reverse is not possible that person is known as ‘Urdhvareta.’
One becomes ‘Urdhvareta’ when he follows celibacy in body, mind, and speech for twelve years.
‘Do you know what your name means?’ Hatha yogi said.
‘Yes, I do. It means servant of Krishna.’
Hath yogi becomes glad to hear this.
‘So come with me’ Hatha yogi said.
He just followed the Hatha yogi. He did not ask any question as to where to go and why to go etcetera. He had full trust on Hatha Yogi.
Hatha yogi took him into a cave which has a tiny orifice, covered with a snow so that the cave can be camouflaged, but from inside it was very big.
Chaitanya came to receive them. Hatha yogi told Chaitanya to give dhoti to Krishna Das and went to his room.
Krishna das asked Chaitanya that from you were here
‘Since 25 years, I am here.’, Chaitanya replied.
‘What is your age? ‘Krishna Das asked.
‘I am just 40 years old’, Chaitanya said.
‘Does Master is really more than two hundred years old?’, Krishna Das asked.
Chaitanya replied one you had accepted him as your master then why to doubt him. In spirituality, nothing could be achieved without trusting the master. You must have hundred percent faith in him as well as on his words.
Anyways, how many books we would read to become Hatha yogi.
‘Not a single book’, Chaitanya said.
‘Then you give me your notes as I have a poor memory’, said Krishna Das.
‘No notes as well’
‘I am not a Hatha yogi, but I know Hatha yoga is very difficult. Many could not master one posture even in six months.’, Krishna Das said.
Chaitanya told him to have a rest. ‘The rest you will know tomorrow.’, Chaitanya added.
In the morning, Hatha yogi asked Krishna das that whether you had any training in Hatha yoga before.
Krishna das said he had been practicing some sort of meditation and few breathing exercises, but not Hatha yoga.
It started with a powerful and poignant invocation.
Then Hatha yogi asked him what did you think that how many months you would take to learn Hatha yoga.
Krishna das said that even though he had been spiritual from an early age yet he neither had a flexible body nor a sharp intellect.
Do not worry about your body and intellect as I am transmitting Hatha yoga into your system. I would transmit Hatha yoga into your very bones. Just close your eyes. Whatever learned could be forgotten but whatever transmitted could never be forgotten or erased from the memory. Be ready.
Just in half an hour, Hatha yogi transmitted all the yogic science into Krishna Das.
It was just like downloading files.
‘Right now, you know all about hatha yoga and capable to do any posture, but to master you have to do yoga meticulously and perseveringly for twelve years. Then you can reach to the acme of Hatha yoga and may have enlightenment.’, said Hatha yogi.
He was impregnated with the esoteric science of Hatha Yoga impeccably. Now the mysterious Hatha Yoga was demystified with this transmission process.
He practiced all the difficult asana (postures) with an extraordinary ease. He could not believe that it was he who was doing such postures.
Krishna das dedicated himself to these yogic practices and within six months he had got ‘siddhis’ (Yogic super natural powers).Then He could levitate, get invisible, become light as a feather and heavy as an elephant, change forms and shapes of the body etcetera.
He showed his feats of siddhis to his master. Hatha yogi did not surprise as these things were very natural or normal for him. Albeit the master warned Krishna das that initially these things seem pleasant but if you keep using them, then they can become the cause of ruin or downfall so do not pay any heed to them. I have only four teachings. First, is shun attraction for siddhis, second is shun women before 12 years of celibacy, third is never miss your yogic practices and the last but not least always follows your master order.
From today onwards I would never pay any heed to siddhis and follow your all teachings. I would remain celibate throughout my life. I would obey your teachings.
But just after few months he gained got attraction towards the siddhis. He could not resist the learned for siddhis. He loved the siddhis.
He told himself that I am not misusing them so I can use them. He spent so many years to find master but when he found him he started following his mind instead of his Guru. Soon his mind became his Master
It takes years to reach a goal. But when we reach there we often forget the struggle to attain that Goal.
Just after nine months of stay at the Himalayas, he started thinking that if he would go to the world he can mesmerize the world with his supernatural powers. I would use them for the welfare of the people only. And one day he left the Himalayas without informing the master and Chaitanya
Initially, he went to a village, where he cured many people with his ‘siddhis’. The people of the village started worshipping him as God. He like the name and fame. This created ego in him. He really started considering himself as God. Soon, he becomes renowned as Himalayan Master.Once a rich widow, from a nearby city, came in that village. She bowed down to Krishna Das and said,’O god you are ever pure, accept me as your disciple.I have a very big mansion.No one lives there you can meditate there without any disturbance. I want to take you there. In my city hundred of people are suffering from various ailments. you can cure them. Many people would be benefitted.I would love if you come at my mansion and stay for few months at least.
He likes the proposal and agreed to stay in Widow’s house. A thought came in his mind that his master’s teaching did not allow him to live with women. Immediately his mind said that rule is for the disciples only and I am the master. That is why I am able to cure so many incurable diseases and the widow has a faith in me. She seems a spiritual lady so I am not vulnerable to lust there. She used to offer him sumptuous dishes. Soon, he had become a gourmet. He started skipping his fasts just for the sake of taste and used to gourmandize himself at all meals on all days. A yogi should not eat much or less. Nevertheless, he had become popular in the city as well. Many people from far-flung places started coming to see the mysterious Himalayan yogi who cures fatal diseases just by touch.
One day, by chance, no one came to meet him maybe he had cured almost all the diseased people in the city. His propinquity to the widow had increased. She was a gorgeous widow. She told Krishna das that Guruji(master) I am going for a bath. Suddenly, this provocative statement enamored him and lust arrested his mind. A desire to see her while bathing aroused in him. He used his power to become invisible to see the widow bare. In this way, he started watching her, off and on, while taking bath or changing clothes in invisible form without her knowledge. She was a young widow. Her husband had died just after one week of their marriage.
One day Krishna Das confessed to the widow that he ogled her without clothes by using his powers. Instead of getting angry, she blushed.She too felt love for Krishna das, earlier she was afraid to express it, but after Krishna Das’ confession her fear vanished and love replaced it. She started massaging feets of Krishna das in the night.
Initially, the relationship between them was pure but soon it turned into a worldly relationship.Krishna Das and the widow fell in love with each other. Outside they show to people that they had a relationship of Guru and disciple, but inwardly they were enjoying the life that any husband and wife could enjoy. On account of breaking celibacy and stopping yogi practices to enjoy the worldly pleasures, his siddhis left him. Soon his hands become normal hands. They left the healing powers and powers of blessings. People started reporting that they were not healed. Soon the widow got pregnant. The widow and Krishna Das decided to leave the city.
To hide the truth from the public they shifted to an unknown place and settled there.They started living as a normal householder. A great yogi turns into an ordinary householder.
August 15, 1947, 12 AM
Nagaraj was pacing nonstop outside his hut. He was worried beyond what he could handle. The whole village was bustling with activity but he didn’t bother to find out why. All he could hear were the moans of pain his wife uttered inside the hut. After five years of marriage and trying for children, it was the first baby they were going to have. Nagaraj wasn’t worried about his wife much. He knew she was strong. All he wanted was God’s grace to gift him a son.
His wife kept crying in pain while a couple of women, who had come to help deliver the baby, kept asking her to be a little more patient. It wasn’t going to be an easy delivery. As Nagaraj looked at the sky in a silent prayer, fireworks shot across, lighting the sky in brilliant colours. He looked around to see people running around and celebrating in mad happiness.
‘Freedom! We are free now! Bharath Mata ki Jai!’
The cries of India’s independence filled the whole neighbourhood. Nagaraj wanted to run out and celebrate with them. Just then, a lady came out from inside the hut and informed him in a melancholy tone, ‘Your wife is suffering a lot. It might take the whole night for the baby to come out. I am not sure if either of the mother or baby can make it. Pray that everything should be fine.’
Nagaraj kept pacing and praying that his wife should be fine and that he should have a son. It was a long night ahead of him. For people around him, it was a night of celebration, but for him, it was anticipation. He kept pacing, wishing the night to end soon, not knowing that by the dawn his wife wouldn’t make it and that he would be left with a daughter named after his wife Savitri.
December 19, 1969, 10 PM
She hadn’t wanted any of this. If only her step-mother hadn’t been evil enough to get her married off to a fifty-year old man just to get the status of ‘in-laws of a Zamindar family’, she wouldn’t be facing this torture. Savitri didn’t blame the old man she had married. He had been kinder to her than her own father and step-mother, had taught her to read and write, gave her everything she wanted and had left her and her daughter with his inheritance upon his death.
Still, he had no right to leave her alone in a village full of superstitious old people and his greedy nephews and nieces who wanted to grab his inheritance for themselves. When he contracted tuberculosis, Savitri had prayed with all her might for his health. But he couldn’t last long.
Now, his greedy relatives had riled up the villagers with some ominous signs and insisted that Savitri must follow the Sati practice, that she must step into the pyre of her husband who had given her so much and save him as well as the villagers from the wrath of evil spirits. Savitri knew it was all absurd, but her voice against the voices of a thousand people was not being heard. She was ignorant of the fact that Sati was illegal. The funeral of her husband was planned for the next morning. She had less than twelve hours to live.
‘Mamma,’ her daughter murmured in her half sleep.
Savitri held her daughter in her arms as she paced in her room, rocking the little girl to sleep. She wanted to stay up the whole night and listen to her three year old baby speak those broken words she had learnt. She was barely forming sensible sentences, but her voice and incoherent words sounded like music to Savitri. She so wanted to see her daughter grow up, give her a better life and free will which she hadn’t been able to get in her own life, yet now, she was going to die unjustly.
Death didn’t scare her. She was used to receiving death threats from her step-mother every day. It was her husband who had changed that. Despite the thirty years of age difference between them, he had tried to be open minded with her. He had stayed away from marital life owing to his job in the army. After the 1965 war with Pakistan, he had returned to his village, tired and seeking a change from his bloodshed filled life. All he had wanted was a person who would show him a different perspective of life. A lot of attempts later, he ended up marrying the girl who made him smile with her clumsiness.
Savitri missed him now. But above all, she was scared for her daughter. She was sure after her death, her relatives would throw her daughter into an orphanage and never even bother whether she survives the hellish life or not. Her daughter would probably end up having a worse life than Savitri.
‘Mamma, we’ll go,’ her daughter murmured.
‘To dad,’ she whispered sleepily.
‘It’s okay honey, I will go to your dad. You can stay here a little longer,’ Savitri said, tears welling up in her eyes.
‘Mamma, don’t leave me,’ her voice choked.
Savitri knew it was the atmosphere in the house they’ve had for the past couple of days, the wailings, arguments, taunts and tears that were scaring her little girl. But she was completely helpless. There was nothing she was able to think of or do. She couldn’t even run away anywhere.
Singing a lullaby to her baby, Savitri prayed silently for the night to never end. The moment must stop with its darkness around for her to survive and save her daughter. She fervently wished the night to continue, not knowing that a social reformer was on his way to the village with a force of activists from a women welfare organization and the Press with him; ready to storm the village by the dawn to stop the inhuman practice of Sati, arrest the perpetrators and save Savitri and her daughter.
June 20, 2017, 11 PM
A small town, Kashmir
It was darker than usual. The black clouds they had seen approaching the region in the evening had now covered up the whole horizon. That and the clouds of smoke and dirt which hung in the air after all the firing that had happened throughout the day made the night even more unbearable. Capt. Arun was sticking to his position atop a water tank, his sniper aimed at the avenue further which was the only way for the terrorists to enter the town.
A dozen terrorists had occupied a small town close to the LOC in Kashmir. Capt. Arun and his battalion that was stationed nearby had taken charge and stormed the town in a sudden attack without any orders while the government was still pondering over how to deal with the situation. The army battalion was able to take down seven of the terrorists while the rest stayed hidden and they had rescued more than twenty hostages. Capt. Arun had validated information that more terrorists were on the outskirts, ready to take over the town again. He and his battalion had formulated strategy to block the entry points of the town while a few of them went over the place annihilating the rest, hidden terrorists.
Arun looked sideways to check the stock of ammunition he had with him. He would be able to stop if anyone tried to come through there. But they were running short of their resources and people as well. Six of his men were already down. They needed the government to decide fast and send help soon. There were only fifteen of his battalion soldiers left and he wasn’t sure they would be enough to guard the town.
He knew that even if their higher officials decided to go for aggressive defence, it would be dawn by the time the military forces and replenishments arrived. He knew the army had to take care of the foes stationed outside the town, waiting for their chance, before they could storm the place. He should hold the fort till the dawn. It was going to be a very long night for him.
He remembered his grandmother telling him stories of her childhood and those of his mother’s childhood too. She often iterated that a single night was enough to change the course of your life, to either destroy you or save you. Grandma Savitri was right.
He waited with his sniper ready, awaiting the dawn, not knowing that the terrorists would be storming the place before help arrived, that his best comrade would fall, that he would kill three of the damned foes and save a dozen other hostages, that help would come on time to save him from getting shot.
 ‘Bharath Mata ki Jai’ is an Indian slogan that means ‘Hail Mother India’, referring to the motherland India as Mother.
“Why do you write?” the journalist asked the debutante author of the award winning novel.
“I write because I feel. I get clogged if I don’t write. The writing helps me to release as much as possible; happiness, pain, anger, anxiety. Its equivalent to running or meditating, it makes me feel recharged and refreshed.”
“Are you trying to say that others don’t feel, that writers are the only sensitive people around and everyone else is just unfeeling and immune?”
“See, now you are doing what a journalist does, putting words into my mouth. I think every human being uses a different form of expression. Some people may scream or cry, I write.”
The journalist laughed, it was difficult to win a battle of words with a writer.
The writer went home that night, his hands were trembling and he was angry. He wanted to break something, his marriage was falling apart, his child hated him, and his parents hadn’t spoken to him in years. The questions of the journalist bothered him, what authority did a stranger have to judge him or comment on his life. He was his own worst enemy, but he couldn’t admit that in an interview. He had ruined every relationship he had ever touched, and he was not proud of it. But when he wrote, he could be somebody else. He could pick up his pen and create new worlds; he could abolish the system or destroy an entire universe. It felt like living in parallel realities, the failures of his personal life got overshadowed by the success of his written stories.
Everyone wore a mask, but it was easier for him. Ashwin already had a mask in his printed name, in his published words. He could write on anything and nobody knew whether it was really his own thoughts or fiction, nobody knew real from imagination. He could write his darkest secrets and confessions under a character’s name, and would never be judged for them. He could express hope and disappointment, fulfilment and resentment, loyalty and betrayal, everything all at once or nothing at all, all at his own whims and fancies.
Ashwin had failed at his job as a bank manager, he didn’t understand lending and borrowing. He didn’t comprehend credit or liability. The only thing he knew was expression, weaving magic with words. His passion overcame him, and after a while all he did was writing. The pain of his personal failures faded, and he started basking in the appreciation of his readers. The reality no longer disillusioned him, for he could step out of it and into his own version, whenever he wanted or chose.
The scratching sound of pen on paper, and the whiff of a strong whiskey, his world was complete. The relationships had all faded away, and his friends became the people in his stories. He wanted to introduce more complex ideas and bring forth more diverse versions of every understood sentiment. Each story was the beginning of a new life, and each ending symbolized its finish. He laughed and cried; he felt fear and relief, all hidden in words and spilled out on empty pages, no longer empty and no longer incomplete. He found a freedom he had lost and a love that had been misplaced and missed; his very own.
The question resounded in his head, “Why do you write?” and he whispered to the empty wall of his home, “Writing helps me live a lie with more credibility than the truth.”
While revisiting the corridors of the childhood, I find myself amidst cacophony of those school bells, numerous chuckles knocking my eardrums from every direction, the familiar tap of duster and those solitary library murmurs.
I find a image of that building still intact in my mind & soul. So intact that it has convinced me to believe that in all these years nothing has changed. So when I close my eyes and picturize it I feel that the moment I left the building was the freezing point , since then every corner of it froze and still der is the same entrance door, same cacophony of drill period and again the same cluster of memories passing by the corridors of my holy church.
But somewhere deep down, I know with every second of my stepping out of the childhood, something has been replaced, something has been deformed, and alot has been erased and recreated. So yes, holy abode of my childhood is no more the same but let thousand more years pass & let hundred of more dusters tap, there is one place and one person that won’t change, one place at the corner of that classroom, which remains reserved, devoid of how many batches bid the farewell and how many are yet to come, the corner is reserved for that bewildered look, the pair of glasses, those bundle of old ragged books, and that tall slender geek.
Yes, that nerdy boy, every one of us met once in our lifetime, that nerd we know we are never going to lose because no matter how many preceded, a larger number is reserved in the list of successors. This geeky boy has got a special place in my heart for he gave me a part of memory of my school days, which I know won’t change, he will be there with his irksome logics and peculiar ways at every corner of each classroom.
So the corner and the nerd are closely knitted within the chapter of my school life. I visualize the palm tree at the boundary of our playground, the school bell, I so much wanted to be in charge of, the principal room I hated the most, the backside lawns which still has my mischieves n secrets buried and passing through the corridor comes my classroom,..and then..that nerdy boy.. I never saw him leaving the corner & for once getting along with cluster of other students. I never saw the Ray of smile crossing his poker face, those glasses ever getting a moment off to reflect anything else than formulas of physics and that geek turning from a boy to an adult. I never…
Time flew and the diary of my school kept recording a new summer and a new corner of the classroom. The diary of my life too, kept filling the pages, rudderlessly, the way we all did in each answer sheet of the examination. The sheets too changed, and looked more like a resume now.
The resume, which I so carefully hold in my sweaty palms, clutching them hard, knowing that it’s not the answer sheet, but the culmination of hundreds of them. I sigh, calm down my senses, turn my petrified look into a confident one and head towards the office door, I knock, and look up to face a cabin, a room where corners are negligibly valued, and everything is drawn towards the centre, centre of all the authority and decisions. I visualize myself standing somewhere at the corner making every bit of move to come one inch closer to the centre. I also see a familiar figure having his gaze fixed at me, never like before, this gaze is mysterious, concealing years of acquaintance beneath it. Now I can’t find the corners I only see the centre and at the centre, that nerdy guy.
Yes, the same we all will be working for.
Library murmurs plays loud in my mind this time as if they are telling me that each one of us gets placed at the corner once in a lifetime.
If I write truth
Somebody will attack me.
If I write lie
I will be attack by myself
What I have to write ?
On the road,
Stars drowned in the blood
Knowledge has no depth
shore is no broad
LIfe is no vast
While passing through a railway station
My eyes met many eyes;
Some beautiful, some tired, some fiery,
Some fearful, some cunning, some stunning.
But the one which I met
And could never forget;
Was the eyes of a poor old woman
With tattered sari, full of wrinkles…
Unclean eyes, gazing continuously;
To a very smart young man
Their countenance resembling;
Both the eyes after a long gazing
Shortened the distance
Came much closer;
Her eyes were searching her lost child.
Eyes meeting eyes after three decades
Old, weak eyes still had the charismatic power….
Could recognize even after so many years
Salute you, Oh, the Creator
For making eyes the mediator
Between the two souls;
Dried eyes after shedding so many tears
For so many years;
Could shed now only a few tears
Was delighted to meet
eyes to eyes
A glass, emptied and dried
Let me pour in it, my stream of words
A flow from my heart,
The silences… “Oh! Stop being repetitive!
These are clichés, archived!”
Nights, filled with blasted sighs,
Stories told, just to be laughed at,
A painted face peeping through
The door, a beckoning sign,
Dimmed streetlight, lips coated with lies.
Hazy subways and streets so dark
No! I am not a ludophile!
Owls cry louder than ever,
Stories untold, letters washed away,
“Trust? No… never…” moments of despair lurk.