I sat under a dim light, far end of the room, alone, sipping wine.
It was the most obscure area I could find. The rest of the room was bright with long satin curtains flowing freely from high ceiling to the floor. Large crystal chandeliers glittered brightly, reflecting light whenever a photographer clicked a candid shot. Waiters moved around the room with trays containing exotic finger food, kebabs on bamboo sticks, cheese flavored spring rolls, mushrooms coated in pepper sauce.
Drumming my fingers, knees quivering, I waited for people to notice me, anxious for somebody to come and greet me, although I knew nobody would look at dark corners of the room. I gulped. It takes real skill to choke on air and still remain calm. At regular intervals, I scanned through my Watsapp messages to swallow few moments of entertainment. Inspiration quotes at regular intervals boosted my ego. I was grateful that not many friends in my watsapp group knew that I was a loser. To my friends, I was a jovial, multi-talented, a superman.
But I knew the truth. A social outcast in my writer’s group, that’s what I am. Imagine not being able to churn out hundred words story in seconds! That is a disgrace. How did my writer friends excel? I pondered.
Far corner, on the left I could see Vijay, a successful writer, whose name has appeared in the nomination list. With his salt and pepper beard, shiny scalp and a thin poly-tail, he looked pathetic. The long kurta with mismatched cotton bag slung crosswise across his chest confirms the fact that he had no sense of dressing at all, yet the characters in his book are well-dress people with designer labels. Rich, successful people who know all the right words to impress the crowd. Men wear rayon suits with striped classy ties, pointed shoes and have their hair in place with shiny gel. The women in his books are stylish too, manicured nails, chiffon saris, most of the ladies in his books have red bindi on their forehead during the social events. Who puts bindi on their forehead nowadays? Not even the ladies in the villages, they don’t even wear saris at home, just long printed gowns with abstract designs. His stories are so very unrealistic! I am surprised how his book is nominated. Oh God! He is wearing Kolapuri chappal to the ceremony, one strap is coming loose, and what if he wins the award?
I wish somebody would notice me. A facebook friend or a twitter follower, anybody will do. Seems like I am not so famous, although I regularly post my pictures on Instagram. I have thousands of virtual friends, three thousand and twenty-two on Facebook to be exact and ten thousand more on twitter. I do read books, one book per day. Two hundred pages in one go, I am fast that way, maybe they should have chosen me as jury member, I could have helped them select the right books for booker’s prize.
But no, no luck that way
Mona, Sunita, John, Anil, Chandrashekhar, Madhuri, these are the members of jury. Now they sit on that reserved VIP table in the center of the room. I bet they must be discussing their experiences in selecting the book for the award and how difficult it was for them to decide the winner. Each of them look upon themselves as wisest of all, and that misconception completely tarnishes their knowledge. How do they decide? Do they really read all the books that arrive at their home, free of charge? Or do they go hopping blogs to read reviews thus narrowing down the creditability of a book on public demand? Whatever it is, they have one advantage, their personal library increases three-fold mainly stocked with free bees.
Frankly speaking, I believe that you cannot judge a book by its cover; it is difficult. One has to have a deep knowledge of the idea that is discussed in the book, he should be able to relate to it, identify with it. What does Mona know about love? Single, detached workaholic, I have never seen her with a man. She is on the jury for judging books on romantic love. Can she differentiate between lust, romantic love and deep attachment with the partners? Does she know that the person you fall in love with is somebody who fits within your ‘love map’, an unconscious list of traits that you build in childhood as you grow up? There are many love stories interconnected in my books, a lust turning to romantic love, the love bound tightly with strings of attachment, of commitments, of compromises, the emotions like the jealousy, the greed, the attachments leading to the lust, would she understand that? Reading volumes and volumes of book can only increase your general knowledge. Most of my stories must have escaped her range of imagination.
And then, there is Sunita on that same table, an aesthetic traditionalist. I understand she means well but she advocates for artistic realism as if she understands art as well as my Rex poodle (no offense to my canine friend, whose taste is actually pretty good for a dog). Every writer cannot write a memoir or stories from their personal experiences, some books are written on fantasy and wild imaginations. That is an art. Realism does not always mean reality. Real art is to see through oppression and find a real picture.
I am not surprised that jury failed to nominate me for the booker’s prize. The readers of my book get frustrated with my dialectical style. I seem to contradict myself, they say. Actually, now that that I m thinking, I do that on purpose. I love to confuse people. They must understand that life is bundle of contradictions. I am seeking the truth looking from all viewpoints and assessing them against each other to find the real meaning. I can be cruel, I could be kind, I could be unrealistic too, sometimes I will bend towards ‘identical thinking’ and other times I contradict and criticize. It all depends on situation and the path my story takes.
Lonely is the world writers live in. I could ramble on and on about the injustice meted out to me. I know I deserve worldwide fame. But if my writing does not appeal to this small bunch of jury members, I may continue to be unattractive, invisible, just a moth on the wall.