They’re good and they are ugly at times.
They’re fascinating and they can be terrible.
Despite variations, I am fond of all of them as they together make up what I am today. Most of the time memories have a bit of restlessness meandering between large spaces of pure joy.
One of the fondest memories that I carry with me is when I wrote my first real short story. Not that I hadn’t written any before… but they were when I was in school and they always tended to be influenced by what I then read in the magazines… magazines like ‘The Illustrated Weekly of India’ and the Sunday features in newspapers that we subscribed to.
So this story happened in the mid-nineties and was triggered by a real incident that happened in Rowntree Park near the Yorkie Chocolate factory in York. I overheard a small kid trying to impress his grandfather about the need to buy a computer. Remember, those were times when computing and computers were poised to take off. Windows had just been launched.
And then in the next week I also noticed that Pushkin, my son, who was attending Fishergate school there, was always eager to walk to the university just to spend a few hours in the computer labs there. He was in Class IV then and soon became known as the computer wizard in his primary school.
So one fine day I sat down and wrote a small story where the protagonist is a small kid and notices that his grandfather struggles a lot with his writing. He sells the idea of buying a computer… yes, Utsav, that kid in my story, wants to have a computer of his own but at the top of his mind was helping his grandfather get published.
After a few months when I returned to India, I happened to attend a workshop conducted by Manorama Jaffa at the AWIC and read this story there. Everyone listened without even blinking, so to say, but at the end some other participant told another who came in late, ‘You’ve missed a great reading.’
‘A great reading? How was the story?’
‘Well, the story is ok but the way it was read out is the way stories must be read out.’
This comment still sticks to my mind. And I’m still unsure if I must smile at the applause for my reading abilities or be saddened because the story wasn’t really praised. But I did realise that every incident has both joy and a bit of sorrow woven in. Memories are all like this.
This story was published in ‘Social Potpourri: An Anthology II’. Title of the story: Utsav sells his first idea.
11 April 2017