There are some blogging friendships that are struck in a jiffy. This is exactly how my friendship unfolded with Sakshi Nanda. The first time I chanced upon Sakshi’s blog, Between Write And Wrong, I was hooked. A few messages exchanged, and I felt a great rapport and ease with her. She is an excellent writer, with a Masters in English Literature and an experience with print media and in editing. Now she balances a family, works from home and blogs. She straddles many genres in her writing including parenting, personal memoirs, social commentary, politics, delightful satire and humor to name a few. She is a prolific writer, and each post is a gem. She can handle sensitivity, humor and emotions in her writing with an innate ease. Apart from all this, she is a fabulous person, a good, conscientious human being and a lovely friend. Her good-natured take on her son’s antics are a pleasure to read always. Her warm, sunshine presence reaches out to you through her detailed, encouraging comments as well as her warm words. Yes, she will win both your heart and mind with her craft and persona! I really look forward to meeting this bundle of energy soon in real life. So happy to have you in my space, Sakshi! Thank you so much for doing this post for me. Take it from here…
A handful of moments before I wrote this, I was miserable.
My husband found me biting my nails in my favourite corner of the house. He knew what was up. But he still cared to ask. And I told him what he knew already.
‘What do I write about next? I want every new post to be better than the previous one. It’s a lot of pressure. Every single time I am becoming my own competitor. I feel tense, and so inadequate.’
And like always, he helped my speeding thought process go from fourth gear to the first, and come to a calming halt.
He told me of ACR writing time in a certain government office. Much hustle-bustle, like the day before the board results. Only, here, there was no fixed date of ‘release’. Just a feeling they could be in your hands any day. ACRs – lots of questions about efficiency and credibility, work done and delegated successfully, and remarks by many in the pyramid of hierarchy. A little handwritten booklet that mattered in its own strange ways, and did not at all in so many others.
He told me of this kind man sitting right at the centre of the governmental pyramid, writing ‘outstanding’ for each and every person whose ACR crossed his path. Very many ‘outstanding!’ When the staff heard, it was jubilant. After all, it was an outstanding lot! Perhaps, motichoor laddoos were being circulated already. Some were calling up their wives, for the result that was imminent. Signing in for an LTC too, maybe.
My husband, as usual, knit his brows in incomprehension at this blind generosity of gifting excellence. Over tea the same day, he discussed this phenomenal phenomenon with a senior, for he was fresh and still figuring out the ways around the yellow corridors.
The words of that senior bureaucrat he cared to quote to me today, as I sat thinking hard about delivering the better than the best, next, with my pen.
‘If everybody is outstanding, no body is.’
I smiled. He smiled too. Perhaps the same smile he smiled when he heard this pearl being rolled his way, sipping chai in gold-rimmed china cups in cracked saucers but with a very wise man.
We may blame it on our zodiac or our time of birth. We may find fault in the genes or the way we are brought up. But no matter where we try to rest the gun before pulling the trigger, the truth remains – Ambition. To sweat, to slog, to soar. To do, do more, and out do – not just the neighbor but our own selves too. To be called an ‘expert’, a ‘guru’ or plain brilliant! And in the process, lose. Lose those moments of sitting idle, doing nothing. Parking the racing cars in our heads by the side of the road. Letting the engines stop. Looking around, not talking not opining. Not even listening. Just being. Free in the mind. Easy. Empty.
Like sitting inside the bus stop, waiting for the bus. In the cool shade. Rather than looking in the same direction as the crowd standing nearly in the middle of the road, sweating in the Sun. So eager to spot the bus first. Climb on to it too. After all, the bus will come, if it’s meant to.
A few minutes reclaimed for ourselves and not what we do, or stand for, or stand by.
A comma in a long winding sentence of life. Not a full-stop.
A few minutes of being mediocre. Why not!
Because, continued he – ‘Only the mediocre are at their best all the time. Mediocrity is a lovely thing, don’t misunderstand what I say. But outstanding work will be sporadic. Excellence comes sometimes. Those moments of outdoing yourself. In spurs and spurts. Moments of genius. That’s what makes them soar above all the ‘best’ that has come before.’
Like a sudden Everest among the many Kilimajaros. A hot geyser shooting up in the air, taking itself by surprise. Or maybe like the Ganges, making not a sound as it touches Rishikesh with it magnificence, but roaring with grandeur as it wakes Haridwar up.
My own streams of consciousness were making dizzying eddies in my mind a few minutes back, as I sat alone. They sat calmly now, as did I with him next to me. There was much to think about. And much to write. But first, I needed to take my watch off, drop my bag, untie the shoes, box the spectacles and sit down. Just sit down. Inside my mind.
No place like home to do that. No time like now either.
And no O’clock more opportune than this minute, to understand what my Standard 1 teacher, Mrs. Edwards, meant when she wrote in my book, 25 years back –
If you cannot be a star in the sky, be a lamp in the house.”
Beautiful, isn’t it?
[I have left this post the way it was written at first go. I have read it multiple number of times, but changed not a thing. Edits may spoil The Comma I talk about, as I sit under a lamp in my house, and with my Lamp too. This may not be my ‘best post’, but it is the one I needed to write and wanted to share, both.]
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