If you have been following my blog (and fee fie fum! if you haven’t) you would know THE struggle in my life. How my first book Burnt Toast was a lucky fluke, written with a toddler on my knee and a baby crawling dangerously close to the wires at my feet. And now I want be the next Aravind Adiga. Maybe. If only I could find a rags-to-riches, third world fiction story that seems to scare foreignors so much that they bestow awards and money on you to make you feel all better. Why should only the IT guys make money from the ‘India story’?
So I cleared my space (threw a mass of papers and printers that seemed to be magically floating on four pillars to discover little- seen table), found a tranquil space and time (waited for kids to go to school), and got ready ( bought 2 new shiny, pretty notebooks and 3 sets of multi-coloured pens) and waited for inspiration to strike.
And waited….and waited…..
The best authors write from their childhood experiences. Think ‘catcher in the rye’ and not ‘assholes finish first’ here. So I delved into the farthest memories of my childhood hoping to discover some innocent, struggling , Indian ‘desh ki mitti’ kind of recall that could be stark and alien to sympathetic foreignors.
There was only one problem. Try as I might to conjure images of open and dusty maidans and ice golas, I could only remember concrete flats, dollops ice cream and burgers. I pushed my mind towards deprived children in blue pinafores, jute bags and studying under street lamps and it stubbornly threw back images of uniformed dresses, gated playgrounds and elaborate assembly functions. I wanted to think of ‘hum honge kamyaab’ and ‘ek chidiya’ and it supplemented those images with ‘Papa kehte hain’. ‘Another day in paradise’ and ‘Remember the time’.
I finally had to admit that my childhood was very ordinary. And global. We didn’t even have a full time servant whose oppression I could make into the Indian version of ‘Help’. If there is anyone who is oppressed in Mumbai its my sexagenarian mom who is held to ransom by no-nonsense ‘ek kaam ka hazzaar rupaya’ kaamwaaalis.
The only deprivation I could think about my childhood was the lack on entertainment we had as kids. We used to wait for the 9’o clock serials the whole day and thought ‘mungerilal ke haseen sapne’ was hilarous. The weekend movie and Star trek was a really big thing. We played all afternoon and read books over and over till we had them by-heart.
Yep, that’s my whole childhood.
So much for the ‘India story’.