19/03/2014 by Siddiqui Fayesal
The way that literary folks describe to demonstrate what it “might” sound like when a person lets go the air held inside his voluminous lungs with a sudden outward force, expelling it with a sound that goes “Whoosh”.
Whew is the more appropriate sound and one can phonetically render it with more comfort than whoosh, which is not much when it comes to expressions. Anyway, the reason why I went whoosh (or whew. Choose one and stick to it) was because I just finished reading an interview of Kiran Desai and came out comforted about a few things that she said. Let it be known that I absolutely loved her novel “The Inheritance of Loss”, which won the Man Booker award in 2006.
The book is, in one simple word, depressing.
The magic of the novel was that despite being sad and morose I loved every minutes spent reading it. Actually, I thrive on these kinds, to be honest, but what the hell. It’s a genre that clears away cobwebs in my head and brings out the brilliance of soft, pure sunshine. Such depression and gloom juxtaposed with insincere happiness makes the shabby cloak of the latter more pronounced until it reveals itself. Someone has rightly said that to be truly happy one needs to go through the sadness and the desolate wilderness of depression.
I won’t say much about the book (which I am keeping for later) as I remember very little of it. I remember being so impressed with her prose that I picked it up after a month to read it again. Inheritance is a mix of too many different characters and too many varied settings; from Kalimpong to the UK, from a lonely girl to a rebellious boy, from a friendly drunk immigrant neighbour to a staunch desi US supporter. It has ingredients to satisfy every palate.
I’ll come to the interview now; it’s only an hour for midnight already. When she was asked whether she lived in Kalimpong and Darjeeling to write so accurately about it and to capture it’s almost surreal beauty she answered in the affirmative.
That means she had stayed in the place to write about it. I swear it made me go completely whooshy. I cannot tell you the significance of these words and what they would mean to me when I will sit down tomorrow to write again. Desai wrote about it from personal experience. The thing that scares me most when I think of writing is the level of “creativity” and “originality” in my thought and words. I am constantly whining about how would I write about a particular place in my head and how it was so difficult to grasp the details.
Now I can sit on my laurels and go ahead with my “novice” level of detailing and prose.
The thing is that I always thought that it was very important for writers to create out of thin air; to give a virgin birth and to bring into existence a being without an attached soul (I would be the one to blow the soul into it of my choice). But, after reading this tonight I think it is ok to be “inspired” without feeling guilty. Maybe fiction is never completely fictional!
I know many others might have said something even more profound than Kiran Desai but this one caught my eye. Why? I don’t know, mate!
Maybe I was too tired today and providence needed me to get me back on my toes. Whatever it is it helped.
She also said something else.
Writing, for me, means humility. It’s a process that involves fear and doubt, especially if you’re writing honestly. I imagine businessmen feel smug at least twice a day. Writers? The moments are rare.