If you are a writer, the worst thing that can happen to you are the days when it looks like your writing is drying up. I have been going through this phase. I feel my heart racing, my breath choking on me, my lower abdomen feels tight, I feel sleepy and lethargic and worthless. Intense loneliness grips me with life leaving me in the hands of the Grim Reaper himself.
I have been countering these dry days with more of walking, cycling, yoga, meditation, cooking, watching films, crying, reading The Gita, getting irritated and utterly bored with my companion. A well-known website has approached me to write for them regularly and I am standing lost in my inner landscape, which looks like a blank misty sky with nothing in it. I am asking myself, “What am I going to write about?” Nothing is coming up. Nothing at all. Zilch. Fog. Still humid night with no rain in sight. Darkness. Fear. Doubt. Hot and sweaty.
I thought I will distract myself from this panic attack which says to me, “you have lost your writing art, you have nothing more to write, it is all over for you, your creative life is over, your life has no meat to offer for the pages, you won’t amount too much henceforth.” So I switched on the television set to watch some shows in my mother tongue, Bengali. I miss speaking that and even hearing that so much now. I thought the language of my family and ancestors might comfort me in this lonely phase.
I started watching this popular game show that is hosted my one of Bengali cinemas better known award-winning actresses and I look at her and my panic gets even stronger. What if I have to give up writing because I cannot write anymore like she gave up acting?
And then something happened. My daughter came down to me on the floor where I was sitting and sat between my stretched out legs. And I instinctively put my arms around her. And she rested her head on my breasts. I felt a sudden relief at body contact. I brought my mindfulness practice to watching the show. I told myself, “Ok let me meditate”. I started paying more attention to the show and heard her converse with the participants. The show is a game where women, mostly homemakers, play to win prizes. They also share a lot about their personal lives to make the show more chatty. As I heard the women on the show share their domestic trivia openly, joyously and confidently, I looked at the host’s face and realized how much of her acting skills she was actually being asked to bring forth in this show. To look interested in and enthusiastic about the domestic trivial of simple Bengali mothers and wives must be quite challenging for an accomplished dancer and actress such as her.
The participants talked mostly about how they got married or how they are planning to get married, they talked of how happy they were in their domestic married lives with children and husbands and in-laws. They talked of how much they were appreciated for their cooking or not and what food their husbands loved eating. They talked of how they met their spouses and of their elopement etc. The host honed all her acting skills to look happy in the happiness of the participants. She herself is divorced from another accomplished actor. She is a single middle-aged working woman.
In the middle of the show, my daughter was hungry and I left the show to make her a snack. As I was chopping the potatoes for frying some chips for her, I told myself, “I will try to act like a writer when I don’t feel like a writer anymore. I will write about my dry days as a writer and what it feels not be able to write anymore. I will write about my fears of losing my writing. I will write about my sadness that I feel when my writing is dull and boring even to me. I will write about not writing anymore”.
So here is my writing on not able to write.