General ravings

Lizard by the Tale

I’m always struggling to write. Not because I lack ideas – ah me, no! No! A thousand times, no!

The reason is precisely the opposite, as any writer worth two rejection slips will tell you.

I struggle to write because there are always too many ideas jostling for attention in my head, all the time, swirling around like plasma in the Sun’s core… and every idea seems as good as or better than the earlier one till the next one comes along, and all the ideas are incredibly short-lived, with new ideas popping up all the time and old ideas fading and vanishing into the Great Realm of Forgetfulness just as fast as light travels in a vacuum, and as inexorably as the Heat Death of the Universe.

I know, I sound insane.

“You don’t just sound insane; you are insane,” murmurs a voice behind me. It is a green lizard on the wall; a house-guest since the Covid-19 lockdown began.

“But then, all writers are insane,” it adds cheerfully, flicking its tongue in an absent-minded kind of way at a passing beetle and missing. “That’s why so many writers commit suicide, you know.”

I wave a fist at the beast. With a hurt look it scuttles behind a dusty portrait of a solemn-looking cat. Only its tail remains visible—I mean the lizard’s tail, not the cat’s—curved into a sardonic grin like the Cheshire cat’s.

I stare at the tail, wondering if the lizard’s right.

I have contemplated suicide on a number of occasions; usually when I’ve sat down to write an article or short story or whatever, only to discover that the brilliant idea I’d just had for the piece has vanished without trace in the cerebellum, leaving only a near-vacuum between the ears that’s as bereft of inspiration as intergalactic space is of matter.

I shake my head violently, dislocating the C1 and C2 cervical vertebra, and seek further information on writers and suicide from the Almighty Lord of Information, Google Deva.

Ha! In less than 10 seconds I find a 2012 study which clearly establishes that writers are almost twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population.

I am elated.

Now I have a perfectly sound, scientifically established reason to be insane and occasionally suicidal.

I turn to compliment the lizard for its erudition.  But now even its tail has vanished behind the portrait. Only the cat stares at me in a moody way.

Well…I’ll catch up with the lizard later.  Right now, I’ve suddenly had this absolutely brilliant idea. It’s an idea for the first chapter of a full-length novel. About an ageing writer who, after decades of driving himself nuts trying to sort out the ideas buzzing around in his head and figuring out which one to start writing on, is inspired by the words of a resident lizard during  an unexpected three-month-long incarceration at home due to a global virus pandemic…

I’ve got to put down a few points about this idea before I forget!

I yank the keyboard closer and raise my fingers to type. A soft chuckle interrupts my thoughts. I turn around irritably—it’s that damned lizard again. Now its tail has disappeared behind the portrait; instead its head peeps out, beady eyes fixed on me. I scowl at it and turn back to the screen.

But now my mind is completely blank; as utterly erased of ideas, originality and creativity as a Congressman’s head is after an AICC meeting.

I mutter curses in Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi and Punjabi as I stare at the blank screen.  

A soft crooning fills my ears.

It’s the lizard, singing the blues.

The lizard is in good voice…doubtless because it’s been snacking heartily on the pre-monsoon crickets that have started invading the premises.

Its song reminds me of ‘Spider in my Web’ by Ten Years After – but the lyrics are weirdly different.

Oh these ideas in my head

How they shimmer, blue, green and red

Oh these ideas in my head, babe

In my ageing brain that’s dense as lead

Driftin’, ever-changin’ shapes and hues

Like netas alterin’ their parties and views…

 I fling the mouse, two pens and a small notebook at the lizard.

All miss.

The lizard breaks into a short guitar riff.

Disgusted, I rise and head for the kitchen to fix a mug of healing coffee. The song follows me:

Oh yeah, these ideas in my head

They’re wild: they come ‘n go as they please

Oh help me hold these ideas in my head, honey

They’re like plankton, roamin’ all Earth’s seas

They’re hard to grasp; they tantalize, they tease

Catchin’ ‘em is like clutching a breeze

[Refrain]

Oh how can I save these ideas in my head?

Oh how can I recall ideas that’ve fled?

….

[mercifully…The End]

General ravings, Potshots

Dreadlock Visions during Lockdown

[or, Hair Today…Gone Tomorrow]

When the Union Government announced extension of the Covid-19 lockdown till 17th May, I felt a sharp prickling sensation in the back of my neck.

The prickling sensation wasn’t because of fear. It was a familiar and increasingly irritating reminder that my haircut is long overdue— and that now I’ll have to wait at least two weeks more to have one.  It’s a hair-raising prospect; especially because for the last 40 years, I have with clockwork regularity gone to the barber every 45 days for a “double fauji bina kanghee wale” job.

I do believe short hair lightens the pressure on the brain. Deliberately shorn hair also helps when my hairline is receding just about as fast as my intelligence and memory.

Anyway: with every passing lockdown day, what remains of my hair grows in about thirty-seven different directions at varying rates in five distinct shades of grey and white. I can’t do a damned thing about it, because barber shops have all been closed,  and ‘social distancing’ prevents me from seeking the amateur assistance of a friend who has volunteered to do the job with garden shears.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t mind enduring this minor discomfort—after all, overgrown hair is such a trivial issue when millions are undergoing such hardship  in these difficult times.

But I am chagrined that even as my hair runs riot and my face increasingly resembles that of a depressed and slightly deranged hedgehog, I see a large number of public personalities—political leaders, celebrity journalists and the like—appear with perfectly coiffured hair on TV and online screens every day.  In fact, these women and men look exactly as well-groomed as they did in December 2019!

Me
(L) Me; (R) Hedgehog (image courtesy medicine.net). Note: I apologize for any unintended hurt feelings, injured egos or ruffled quills that I may cause to hedgehogs by drawing this comparison.

It is obvious to me that these well-groomed public personalities are flouting social distancing norms! Their haircuts are just too good; they can’t be lawnmower jobs done by family or friends. I am convinced that these women and men are covertly availing the services of professional hairdressers, so that they can look suave and well-trimmed while the rest of us watch our own faces disappear under the overgrown undergrowth on our scalps.

Unfair?

Perhaps…but  I don’t grudge these fine women and men the privilege of getting their hair groomed while the rest of us can’t. After all,  they are respected and popular figures who are doing all they can to boost the morale of the Indian public in these trying times. Naturally, they must look their best.

Still, it’s tempting to know what these public figures might have actually looked like today, if they had not availed the services of hairdressers during the lockdown.

And so,  I’ve created projected images – crude, but hopefully indicative – of what a select few politicians and journalists would have looked like today WITHOUT their haircuts.  To create these projected images I’ve used the beta version of an Algorithmic Profile Projection software, code-named ‘Tonsure 101’, that is being developed for the Intelligence Bureau by the internationally derided Prof. Iqbal Taklu and his team under a shadowy India-USA security cooperation  project that is so secret that it does not find mention in any public or private records, and indeed may not even exist.

I plan to crowd-source bail bond funds in my next post.

Actual look                                               Projected image

Union Home Minister Amit Shah
Amit Shah, BJP M.P; Union Minister, Home

 

Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi, Congress M.P

Mamata Bannerjee
Mamata Bannerjee, West Bengal Chief Minister

Pinarayi Vijayan
Pinarayi Vijayan, CPI(M); Kerala Chief Minister

Uddhav Thackeray
Uddhav Thackeray, Shiv Sena; Maharashtra Chief Minister

Shekhar Gupta
Shekhar Gupta; Editor-in-Chief, The Print

Arnab Goswami
Arnab Goswami; Editor-in-Chief, Republic TV

Jai Hind!