A Writers Woes
I wrote this when my kids were small, and I was not working outside the home. However, I did try to pen stories and middles for newspapers, besides doing a 24 hour job of looking after two under-fives and a house and a husband.
When at a ladies get together a thin immaculately dressed woman once asked me, “What do you do?” I calmly answered, “ I look after my babies.” What I had not bargained for was this is not considered an occupation.
“That’s all?’ asked the persistent questioner.
“I keep the house tidy and I cook,” I ventured, hoping that would be the end of the conversation.
Unfortunately my inquisitive neighbour, a simple homely lady who usually never spoke much, piped in just then. “She writes”, she announced to whoever was listening.
“Ooh, how exciting!’ squeaked another woman from the corner of the room. “Articles, I suppose?”
It’s like – if you write, then it must be articles. Dabbling in it off and on, I murmured a “Yes,” and tried to make my escape.
They were not willing to let me off that easily.
“So,’’ said the first lady, whom I had realised was a smart cookie. ‘What exactly do you write?”
“Whatever that comes to mind…anything,” I said, trying to answer as truthfully as possible. From the surprise on their faces it is obvious that they had never encountered my breed of writer before.
“No special subjects?” she continued, “ like say..politics? Business?”
I shook my head glumly.
My neighbour said with a thoughtful look, “Anything? Can you teach me?’’
‘There are courses,’ said the immaculate lady, whom by now I disliked thoroughly.
It was time to exit I decided, but before I could make it out of the door, someone else called out, a lady I knew to be a bank employee. “Instead of writing just anything, why don’t you take up a job…?”. Now that she had everyone’s attention, she added in a conspirational whisper, “ Do you know how much I earn?” Without waiting for an answer, she confided in us her open secret.
“Can writers get that much?” questioned the immaculate one.
I have to leave I tell them, and this time I succeed. What heaven, to be back with my beloved typewriter.
Now, I strictly instruct my maid to keep out the peeping Toms. If anybody is admitted into the house, then at the first ring of the door bell I dash into the kitchen, engrossing myself in chopping veggies and mixing masalas.
“You’ve given up writing I see”, observed my neighbour one day.
Hearing such sacrilege does not stop me from agreeing, thinking that a little lie wouldn’t hurt the truth.
“You’ve done the right thing”, she said approvingly, “writing just anything is of no use. You need to take up a job, do something really useful…”
“That’s what I’m doing,’ I said humbly, pointing to my hot curry.
Photo is by me and copyrighted
(Published as a middle in the Deccan Herald, Bangalore)
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