Hey everyone, as I had stated before that I would be treating my blog as a diary for the next three months (and more, decidedly MORE) so here I am after like TWO months? I suppose.
Never have I felt 30000 words to be a lot but damn, they sure are a lot so much so that they literally feel like an achievement. There were days where I had self-doubt and days where I had absolutely no motivation or energy. Like, when I write 30k words in my profession, they pay quite a lot, but here, I have no surety if this thing is going to pay me back or not. Lol! Then, there was the freaking festive season and I was cleaning and de-cluttering and being creative (not writing but decorating) during the Diwali season. But anyhow, somewhere it also feels amazing and satisfactory, since I am pursuing my passion which a number of people give up on.
I have always followed deadlines even for myself but I haven’t adhered to them this time around. I have definitely forced myself to write on a number of days and there have been nights when my thoughts have been shrouded by doubts. Imagine sitting in front of a blank page and thinking, “Vanya, FEAR, what if this doesn’t work?”
“Vanya, PANIC, your market rates as a freelancer will decrease!?”
“Vanya, ANXIETY, will it actually make your parents proud?”
“Vanya, TREPIDATION, what will the society say?”
“Vanya, ALARM, this is going to go nowhere. Just Give Up already”
And many such statements cropped into my mind, and for that, I should definitely say Kudos to my brain which is quite efficient at overthinking and has the capability of creating the worst-case scenarios.
Gosh, I have never worked so hard to keep a positive mindset. I have always felt at ease even when I am faced with critical situations and have seen the silver lining in everything. Never have I experienced any situation more harrowing than this. I keep reminding myself (I have started repeating positive affirmations but then again I have a wonderful brain that seeps in the middle of my affirmations.)
“Whatever happens, happens for a reason.” (My brain: It doesn’t. It’s all your fault.)
“I am proud of all that I have achieved.” (My brain: Damn, have you even achieved anything?)
*Eye roll* You get the idea.
I have waded through all of this crap and actually managed to write 30k words. When I saw the bottom left corner of the MS word document, I couldn’t have been happier. Damn, I really need to pat myself on the back. Somehow, I have reached this milestone. Editing aside, at least I wrote something that I would be able to edit.
Goodbye, Thanks for the support. Hoping you all enjoy the coming month of December.
This is Vanya signing off for today.
Vanya’s brain: Why are you even doing all this. Your planet might get destroyed before you write your book down. Anything can happen in the Universe. You are an insignificant race. You should stop praying to the Universe. Stephen Hawking said you all are chemical scum on a moderately sized planet.
Yeah brain, okay. Just Shut up.
P.S: I just went with the flow and didn’t check for typos so, my apologies if you find any.
“This is it,” my mind screamed, “I have to do it.” I was in my bed, lying down thinking about the story I had started writing a few months ago, one which I had deleted time and again. Sometimes, it was after a thousand words, sometimes five thousand and the last one I remember had already reached nearly twenty thousand. I hadn’t found the satisfaction till a few mornings ago.
For me, unless I am able to transmit myself into a world of eternity that turns me into a hermit and cuts me off from the rest of the living world, when I have no idea what the time is, when the voices outside nullify themselves because I am in the flow of eternity with a story I am living, it’s not writing.
The dawn of that morning was similar to many other mornings which I had probably missed because I am a late riser but what was different was the sudden burst of inspiration. The character I had been trying so hard to visualize all these months had finally started unfurling its story to me.
As I went about my work that day, catering to clients, trying to memorize that character and how to formulate its story, I felt frustrated. I just wanted to write, nothing more and nothing less but I just couldn’t. As a freelancer I don’t have a wonderful life as some people envisage it to be. I have deadlines, the stress of pitches not getting accepted, there are stories which are rejected, the revisions, writing about topics which you detest but you have to because you have bills to pay and a lot more. Sometimes, I don’t even have a relieving weekend unlike many people out there.
By the time I got free, I was way too burnt out to write anything at all. It wasn’t like I didn’t have the will power but my brain and body refused to cooperate with me. This was when I decided to take the plunge. I took the major decision of not taking up projects, not sending pitches, not putting up bids for the next few months while I am writing.
There have always been two factions when it comes to leaving jobs for pursuing something you are passionate about. Some take the plunge and leave the job while some don’t. I believe it differs from person to person. The only thing I knew was if I had to write the story it needed my full time and attention. Considering I hope to send it for traditional publishing, I already know it’s a hard road ahead. It isn’t going to be easy but I am ready to give my all.
Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is enough.
I have a believer in my mother, the lady is also one of the reasons that I could take such a humongous decision. “Chase after your dreams, even if I am not alive. Never give up,” were her words when I had first decided to write a book and some day I hope I get the chance to make her proud. In a country where creativity is looked down upon unless you carve a name for yourself, her support acts as a pillar of strength for me. I won’t deny that I am blessed as not everyone is lucky enough to have a mother like mine. In fact, we are surrounded by people who probably just want to sing praises about their children’ monetary and educational achievements. Nobody asks whether that was what the child wanted or was he/she conditioned by the society to work towards it or was it what the parents wanted when they reiterated “parents know best”. There are various questions and a myriad of answers which I don’t want to delve into.
For the time being I have moved to a corner room in my parents’ house where I can write at ease. Since, I have already been living a hermit’s life as a freelancer, cooped up inside with my laptop, it isn’t much of a change for me. I know my parents are worried and probably want me to go outside and make connections and gain exposure but I believe in the universe and my gut tells me that I need to write this book before involving myself in anything else. Over the next few months I will probably be treating my blog just as a mere diary on the longest of journeys that I have ever embarked upon. I know there will be confusion, some self doubt, rejections, maybe even bouts of depression and we can never deny the probability of a failure but I have made up my mind to overcome these obstacles and follow through with my passion. If nothing, it will only end up polishing me.
I hope you all can live this journey with me and support me in the same since I believe that the good wishes of many can act as a booster for one’s hopes. Having written ten thousand words that have given me an immersive and eternal experience in the past five days have only strengthened my belief in my decision. They are words I was able to write freely in a continuous flow and I think are much better than what I had managed in the past seven months since the idea had first struck me. I feel content, and I think that is all I wanted.
If you have actually read it till the end, then a big THANKS!
This is a picture of me sitting in a mudhouse. It is made up of mud and stays warm in the coldest of days. As a child and as a grown up each time I visited my village, cows and bulls used to be tied in such mudhouses, it’s called a ‘Chani’. In yester years when there were no heaters and air conditioners women and men alike often used to sleep in these chanis along with the animals and hay to keep themselves warm. These days home stays use them to lure tourists and to introduce the ‘Pahadi’ culture to them.
She is always loving and kind,
What can she do?
She hails from a place where even strangers are welcomed,
With arms open wide.
She is not afraid of traversing the rugged terrains,
The Himalayas that fill others with awe and fear,
They give her warmth and peace,
They are the home that provide her solace.
View from one of the small hamlets in Uttarakhand, namely, Chopta
You might find her talking to a flower,
Smelling the earth after the first rains,
Or just admiring the beauty of a colorful bird,
Shown here is a ‘chulha’, a stove made from mud and uses wood as a fuel. The people in the hills are experts in cooking on these stoves. The food tastes tasty and has a smoky touch. The dishes cooked are usually made from vegetables fresh from the farms. Also sitting near the chulha in winters is extremely delightful.
Or as she walks those treacherous roads,
Humming an old Himalayan folk tune,
One she probably heard from her grandmother,
As she sat near the chulha with her.
This is the path to my village in Uttarakhand. It’s an upward trek of 3 kms of highly uneven terrain but the fresh air and trees makeup for it. We try to visit every few years especially with the much younger generation just so that they know about their roots.
She will tell you many folktales,
Of the kings and queens that once resided in the hills,
Of the local gods and ghosts, that still tread,
Watch the twinkle in her innocent eyes as she talks of the land she so loves.
This is our temple in our village of Taleshwar in Uttarakhand. It dates back to the 4th century and it has been proved time and again by the various archaeological treasures that have been dug up around it but it lies in a dilapidated state, all thanks to the neglect of the government. All our major ‘pujas’ (rituals in which you ask for blessings from God) take place in this very temple.
She has a wild and adventurous spirit,
She will take you to places you won’t fathom,
And as she treads along,
She will hum songs in a language unheard,
But the smile she holds will put you at ease,
They aren’t tragic, they are songs of the wild,
The love for nature and people that she has learnt ever since she was a child.
One of the hills that I often tread whenever I visit my village, my father’s childhood was spent in this very terrain before he moved to the city.
As a child whenever she visited the village she often used to sit in the Khou,
With family and friends,
As the old men told stories of their youth,
While smoking their hookahs,
She would listen with awe about the hill ranges that they conquered and the long paths they traversed,
Longing to do the very same some day as she grew older.
The old man in this picture is holding a hookah, a traditionally carved and engraved tube used for smoking and the area they are all sitting in is called a khou. He is the younger brother of my grandfather whom I lost to cancer when I was in Nursery. I still remember watching my grandfather coming home from my rooftop and then standing at the gate waiting for him as he always brought me sweets or candies. He used to carry a beautiful and shiny wooden cane with him, which we gave away later as it had much better use elsewhere.
During her teenage she saw a stranger knock at her grandmother’s door,
He looked like an adventure seeker,
It was the same year in the summer of which she had been to the big city and seen people be ruthless and cruel,
She just did not want this stranger entering their home.
This is one of the houses in the village that belongs to our largely extended family. In the picture is my uncle, his wife and his daughters standing on the lower floor (they are my grandfather’s younger brother’s son and family). On the above floor is my mother, my aunt (my father’s sister) and my grandmother (my grandfather’s younger brother’s wife). I lost my grandmother when I was in 8th. She was a simple yet strong lady who became schizophrenic in the later stages of life. She used to see ‘Bhainro’ (A Hill god) during her last days. She would often tell me that he was here to take her away. I was probably the closest to her in all her grandchildren since I was the only one who spent 12 years with her.
That day she learnt why Pahadis were considered simple and kind,
Her grandmother gave him a home and food for the night,
When the stranger left the next day, her grandmother found her ‘guloband’ missing,
It was the only memory she had of her dead grandfather,
She felt sad for her grandmother and went to sit with her,
As she did she started cursing the man,
No, said her grandmother as she shushed her, this is not our way of life,
He probably needed it more than me,
Nature is what gives us and every being of nature is part of us.
The black choker in this photograph is called a ‘guloband’ and that giant gold ‘Nath’ is the original, heavy nose ring worn by married women. The earrings and naths used to be so heavy (the naths weighing nearly 15gms sometimes) that the nose and earlobes often dangled by the time women reached old age. Again an intrinsic part of our traditional jewellery, the guloband is worn by married women and till date my mother and all my aunts and grandmothers own this piece of jewellery. It is still gifted to newly wed women by their elders and most of them wear it with pride as it has its own charm and is a mark of our tradition and culture. Originally, engraved squares of gold with loops on the sides for thread to pass through were sewn on a black, red or green (mostly black) cloth but now a days it comes in various other designs.
From that day in that lone village in the hills,
Till today the Pahadan resides in a small town in the Himalayan foothills,
The same one she was born in,
Somehow she never found the opportunities in the big cities charming,
Her soul always wants to return each time she visits those cities,
Her love for her roots is undying.
She feels nature will save her against all odds,
She still opens her doors to anyone who is needy,
All you need to do is knock at her doors.
This is the latest trek I went on before lockdown. This is Chopta which is sometimes also referred to as ‘Mini Switzerland’ yet having been to Switzerland I still find this hamlet much more beautiful (no offence intended here). You trek through winding snowy roads in winters and huge grasslands in summers to reach a temple called Tungnath which is a trek of 4 km uphill and Chandrashila peak which is another 2 and a half km above Tungnath.
You will still find her talking to flowers,
Or even climbing trees,
Treading barefoot on the grass,
She makes way even for the ants.
She runs to the hills whenever she gets the chance,
Her adventurous spirit can never be quenched,
In harmony with nature, she respects even the smallest of creatures.
Untouched by the city’s humdrum, she still finds peace within the hills,
But don’t get confused by her mild and kind demeanour,
Forged by hills and nature,
She will roar if you test her too far,
This is why her friends call her an alpha with a gentle heart.
All Rights Reserved. Vanya Rajwar (VRa). Pahaadan through and through.
Numerous are her shades. She is an enigma that takes ages to unfold. You have to be patient to learn all that she withholds because once she unleashes her various hues, you will be left yearning for more and more.
I talked to the stars after a long time last night,
I used to do that when I was a child,
Venus was shining so bright,
It looked at me and I looked at it,
We flirted a little,
Through my eyes and its shine.
Last time I talked to it I was a child,
The air was cleaner,
And the sky shone brighter,
There was no polluting barrier,
Between me and the skies.
The stars and I relived memories last night,
I asked them to pray for the humans and their plight,
A bird cooed, a bat flew,
I wasn’t scared,
I knew the nature and I were in harmony,
After a long while last night.
Always isolated, I looked at Venus again last night,
My old friend, my partner in crime,
I realised I had been alone and had missed it all this time,
The skies are what we all share,
So, I prayed with the stars for all humans last night.
I even bribed Venus to abduct me last night,
It winked at me and said,
Some day soon it might.
As I sat on the terrace last night,
After a long time since forever,
I wasn’t alone with my thoughts on a night.
Note: This is not related to my book. Just a fleeting thought I penned.
It was nothing new for me,
When my father hit me,
I had been disciplined since childhood,
With sticks and brooms and slaps and kicks too,
That was my parents style of venting out their anger,
And rearing the elder kid too.
I grew apart from them with time,
They never understood why I rebelled,
As I reached my teens I started losing my cool,
So it was nothing new for me,
When my father hit me.
I reached my twenties,
I found a partner and as he went through a harsh phase,
I wanted to be there for him, listening to him into the night,
It was something my father couldn’t digest,
At the age of twenty four,
It was again nothing new for me,
When my father took a stick and hit me,
I protested and I shoved him back, my mother called me crazy,
After all hitting back is not how I have been disciplined.
More than a year later I can still see the marks upon my waist,
A reminder of that ill fated day,
What had been my fault?
Was it wrong to be there for someone you love?
But then parents can do no wrong,
They have always reared us with so much love,
So I am not allowed to question them,
Or tell others the very same, what would society think of them?
And anyways also I should have been used to it,
Why would I even cry over this common occurrence?
After all it was nothing new for me,
When my father hit me,
It is just how I have been disciplined.