Monday, August 23, 2010

Teachers are born, not made?

I wrote this essay as part of a competition by the same title. Nothing came out it...
An old Bhutanese adage says that if it is a champion racehorse, it will show early just as a great person will manifest stellar endowments very early in his life. It follows that greatness is born, not made. Human history is replete with cases of people who stood out from the crowd because of qualities unique to them. In the survival of the fittest, what is passed on to you naturally surpass what you have acquired through years’ of pure hard work. There is often no time.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

More than a man: An essay on the Bhutanese woman

This essay was published in the second edition of Yeewong Magazine as the best entry on the theme of gender equality
Growing up in my family, I became used to looking up to my mother and other women members as equal partners in all family matters. If anything, they were the dominant ones. My mother always led as would a matriarch elephant. We followed in her footstep, secure in the knowledge that she was strong. Others chipped in whenever called for. Every body had our own roles , suited to our aptitude and attitude alike.
Now, people might think my father was dead or if not, he was a useless fella. But he was neither. In fact he was the pillar behind my mother's strength. He was there, strong and confident in himself. That may be why he never needed to prove to any body that he was the man of the house. There need not be a thing like that. And he was perfectly fine with having the woman rule the roost.

Monday, August 2, 2010

the morbid writer

It is true, to a large extent, that everybody has a book in him. He just needs the polish of language to bring it out. But some people can stretch this logic a little too much. This is exactly what got to one good friend of mine. He left his business that was giving him a good return, and nagged his live-in partner until she was ready to ditch him. The last time we met, he had moved in to his car with his maid. He was living a gypsy life, penniless. He came down to town during the day and by night, drove up to Buddhagang. It had been his routine for the best part of a month. And he always had his pen and an open book.

After the break up, he had forgone almost all of his earnings from a two years' fruitful venture. Great! One might think, but then a devil had possessed him then. All he took was the car his Dad had gifted him just a few days earlier and which he couldn’t even drive safely. He couldn’t care less though. He was on a great adventure, the daredevil he hoped to become for his upcoming book.

I knew exactly when he would call me; when he had run out of money, or of fuel. The saga continued for a few depressing weeks, even for me. I am not sure if he realized that his action was causing more harm than he had bargined for, not only to himself but also to others who cared for him. I would try in vain to persuade him to do something, perhaps even return to his father who was quite willing to take him back. But no, he wanted substance for his book, or at least a watered down screen play version of it, on which he had already started working.

Unfortunately, it is not just his tale. I know many people who seriously think they have the stuff of a best seller in them and who are quite willing to work on a suitable vocabulary for it. A few idle by, with drinks and more drinks, an occasional girl and the regular trips behind bar. All, of course, to enrich themselves with experiences worth telling the world. The tragic charm they hope to wield around the world, even if it is just deranged gibberish. After all, what is there to write about in a life of a good boy who grows up to become just another ordinary man? May be one can still write a book on the great feelings he has or just his contorted psychology, but then, every other man knows all about it. It would not make much of a book.

I should think it is nothing new though. Ever since men have acquired the command of words, they have been dying to tell the world their side of the story. Samuel Johnson, the author of the first English dictionary denied all the prospects of a good life because he knew that he had to tell the world a compelling story, of a morbid life, to be noticed. He did succeed, albeit with tragic consequences for him and his dear ones. But many others have not achieved even that.

As I take my first tottering steps toward a writing future, I know it would be so easy to fall in this trap of trying to show off more than what is mine. It is always tempting to sensationalize, embellish facts with fiction, truth with lies, all to get noticed, to be in the eye every time. I know I will do well to stick with the choice I will make any time now, when I can still claim sanity; to be a good man, more than a great, false writer; a psychopathic writer!