As I barely sat down to write something that has been bothering me lately, the door bell rang and simultaneously the door opened, revealing a massive head, with a crew cut hair. The face beneath it looked weather beaten and riddled with potholes. The nose looked like a genetically altered over-sized carrot. The traces of curls in the short cropped hair spoke of a wild curly hair, if not attended to on a regular basis. The bulge in the mid-section of the trunk showed signs of prosperity, as we, the Bhutanese, say, and the shiny brown Hush Puppy shoes confirmed it.
My friend has dropped by my house. Seeing me with a pen and a paper, he eyed me suspiciously and asked me what I was up to. I told him that I was just trying to write something.
“You write?” he asked me and I replied “I am trying to. In fact I have just started to, if at all they can be called writing.”
“No wonder” he said, looking around the sparsely furnished room that I call my “living room”. A few creaky sofas with worn out cushions and a table resembling a starving old donkey, standing on an equally over stressed carpet, that makes up my living room.
Except for the two pencil shaded portraits of the fourth and fifth king – my prized possessions – which are my own handiworks, the walls are bare and bereft of any items of decoration, though the leaky roof has rendered them the look of frescos, in black and white, in some haunted chapels in horror movies. Some shapes resemble fluffy clouds on a windless day. Overall the walls look like a canvas of a frustrated charcoal artist, who in frustration has gone on a rampage with his charcoals.
The lower parts of the wall, which are within the reach of my children, resembles a blackboard of a primary school when the teacher is not around; filled with a mixture of supposedly alphabets and numerals that only the writer can decipher and drawings of things that I did not know even exist. My favourite drawing is an image with the head of a girl, with parted hair, body and tail of a horse with monster looking huge wheels for limbs. Until recently I named it “mechanical lady horse”. Artistically my daughter has added a pair of horns on top of the head and now I don’t have any name for it yet.
“You know, all writers are dreamers and full of impractical ideas” he said. “To say the least, they are airheaded cowards who dare not do things in real life but act their fantasies through writings, knowing that they can get away with anything. To summarise and to be soft on them, they are impractical fools!” He summarized.
Looking once again around the pathetic looking scanty room and taking a long breath, he went on, “I hope you are not serious?”
I replied “I love to write though I am very sure that, with my kind of writing, I cannot make a living”. I told him I will write as a hobby and not as a full time job.
“Do you still think that you can afford to do so? Are you going to let your children graze in the pasture after you retire? How many years do you have, until your retirement?” Saying this he bid me adieu and closed the door behind him, just like he did while making his grand entry.
Yes, how many years! What do I have? Other than my children I do not have anything to show. Writing certainly will not fetch bread for me and my family. It will be suicidal even to attempt it, especially for newcomers like me. I love to write but that doesn’t prove that I will be a good one at that. Somebody has said that writing in Bhutan is like walking the streets with your pants down. If that be the case then it’s too great a risk.
Coming back to my friend, he is street smart, manipulative, an scheming man, always on the lookout for opportunities. He will get what he wants and by whatever means. In business he is shrewd. He now boasts of his duplex with a sprawling lawn surrounding it. He is the proud owner of a posh SUV and real estate in some prime area of a booming town. The only thing I can boast of is that in school I was much ahead of him in academics. But that did not matter as we landed up in the same job afterwards. I know for sure that he used his manipulative powers even here. He knows which side of the bread to butter.
For my daily journey to and fro office and doing something in between, I get some amount at the end of every month that I call my “pay” that affords me to live and send my children to school. Even the house that I just described is a part of the deal and if you take away the house and the pay, I will be left with nothing but a big zero. I do not have anything for my “after government” life.
I do not expect anything from my writings. I do it out of interest and to quench the thirst of my soul. It pleases me to no end to see the words flowing out from me and settling down on the paper. My thoughts getting their physical shape in the form of my writings make me feel better.
Perhaps my friend was right in saying what he said. I may be an emotional, airheaded, dreaming coward. But I don’t mind as long as I am able to do what I love doing. For now I love to write and I will keep doing so until I get tired of it or find another pastime to divert my attention, which is unlikely though. Until then let me remain the Impractical Fool.