Dream Big, Start Small

Written By: Uday Mitra

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.  (Ana├»sNin)

Multimedia surrounds me as I edgily craft 500 word articles for a pittance, going around the internet in dizzying circles. And then comes the occasional editing and proofreading contracts that generate decent incomes for those little vanity purchases otherwise unfulfilled. I sometimes dream of writing a bestseller yet!

I completed my teaching contract last December and dolefully bid goodbye to a school lifestyle that had endured across decades. The web of memory like a Spiderman regurgitates my mellifluous schooldays; Deccan Herald newspaper paid Rs.25 for my real life story ‘Death of a Pet’ about a whimsical parrot that pouted and danced at mirror reflections. I won an essay prize too and debated to my heart’s content. Perhaps my Christian primary school and European middle school resulted in my better English because father decided that I should study English during graduation.

And so it was that I plunged into a lifetime of English teaching and writing too. Do I regret? Hardly. It has been worth the experience in spite of the usual elations and disappointments life would bring in any calling.

I had the entire literary history by heart after five cloudy years and had identified my favorites- Mark Twain, Shakespeare, Raja Rao, Tennessee Williams, Milton, Dryden and many more. I was now learning to teach and guiding students through composition, letter writing and literature.

And then comes the turning point! Fate or Karma transports me across three days of Indian Railways to Punakha in Buddhist Bhutan, amidst a boarding school of 500 girls and boys with high cheekbones and creepy slit eyes. Surroundings? Walls of mighty Himalayan mountains hedge the gently flowing river in an infinite silence; alpine forest, orchid, rhododendron  and friendly robust natives rule the land.

Creativity unleashes. Inspiration flows. A heavenly panorama. I realize I could write again like the school days. But how? Those were not the days of emails and Facebook. I join The British Institutes correspondence course in writing and my interaction through snail mail ends half way for some vague reasons.

At somebody’s suggestion, I enroll again at The Writers Bureau, Manchester, for the Creative Writing course, followed by four years of assignments and relearning the world of literature, journalism and mass media, all through distance education. Learning would have been so much faster nowadays with a plethora of institutes and courses at the fingertips!

I was busy with the writings of others like bank cashiers as part of my school duties of correcting exercise books, my first experiences of the editing process. I published school magazines almost single handedly through the compiling, editing, typing, printing and publishing process! A few students helped and painted astonishing pictures too for the covers.
I intensely admired native artistic skills rough hewn through mountain life yet practicing age old crafts amidst a sensual spirituality with forces of nature imbued by lively spirits that ensured a good life. Commercial mountaineering is banned even today in fear of disturbing those spirits that bless.

My youthful passions were spent in teaching Keats’ poems, Hardy’s novels and Oscar Wilde’s drama. Bitter hard labor went into lesson plans, procurement of teaching materials and audio-visual activities across weeks and months with the longer texts. And then the grammar lessons too! Study supervision, cultural and sports activities too.

The challenging sterile silence yet remained as if taunting me for not being creative enough. The splendor of god and spiritual art in daintily colored Buddhist frescoes of gods and devils stared down spitefully and goddess images spread across the Thimphu sky inspired me.

I found outlets for creativity as communication and technology were taking over with photography, Adobe Photoshop and InDesign. I enjoyed the advantage of smallness in Bhutan where everything was under control- no crowds or pollution and hardly any crime. Newspaper and television offices were cozy enough where you did not get lost in the frenzy of celebrities. As I gazed at the snow clad peaks and prayed for Nirvana, I realized that I was reaching some mythical destination.

Manchester delivered me unto the world of publishing in newspapers and magazines; quite a thrilling experience to see my images in glossy paper, arranged in bookshop shelves and displayed at the book fairs where schools purchased library books! I was receiving media attention too and a few terse compliments besides some small payments that I treasured as much as the Rs.25 in the seventies! Nowadays I find me all over the online interface!

I flew through uncharted territories in my quest for character, plot, theme, dialogue, beginnings and endings! God like ethereal creativity demands more and more. The hard labor of snatching time off each morning for writing successfully ended with publishing, later followed by the protracted darkness of writers block.

Quite satisfied with my two publications, WHISPERING WINDS (a compilation of stories and poems) and KISSING DRAGON (a fictional autobiography), I now wish to delve into the fictional world proper which would be like diving from one of those Himalayan highrises into the unknown! Incomes have come and gone when I invested in the next edition with no proper accounts to vouch for. Gross national happiness is what Bhutan taught me, a life of ease and grace dedicated to fellow sentient beings.

Will I or my writings make a difference amidst the galaxy of writers or the billions? Scarcely. Yet each soul has a place in the cosmos if you believe in the divine spark. That inner voice cannot be ignored. The heart has too many stories to tell! Indians are making it big in English writing like Amish Tripathi. Along with the daily Facebook, perhaps I can achieve a little successful writing too.

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.  (Ray Bradbury)

UDAY MITRA is a Bangladeshi settled in Bangalore, India. He graduated in English from Bangalore University and is interested in books, films, music, movies and nature. A published writer, Uday Mitra searches for further opportunities in writing. Interested in social service, a dedicated teacher and creative writer at heart, Uday Mitra believes that India must catch up with the developed world through patriotic visions of endeavor and sincerity. A commitment to Buddhist values of compassion and mind training can make a difference to the evil that pervades present day India, lessons he learnt through meditation practice in lofty Himalayan Bhutan where he taught English.

1 comment:


    Your story is really inspiring for the newcomers who want to make a good career in the field of writing. I am also going through initial struggling phase of my writing. Please wish me a good luck!


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