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  • Sulogna Mehta

The never-written story

Nandu had always intended to establish himself as a great writer. Since school days, he scribbled, using, rather wasting rims of paper and chewing the butt ends of all his pens like a cow chewing cud. Later in college life, he switched to typing diligently on his laptop, daily for hours, never mind the tonnes of typos.

After much desperation and labour, he finally penned down a novel. A few friends read it and Nandu, the budding author, looked at them expecting their expert comments. And like a seasoned critic, one of them said, “It resembles Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.” Since then, whatever Nandu wrote, his readers, chiefly comprising his friends and relatives, found them resembling the works of Tagore or Dickens or Stephen King. How could Nandu help if his ideas clashed with theirs?

He tried writing tragic, romantic and hilarious stories. But films and TV soaps would always undo his efforts. A few months after the bitter experience with his debut novel, he tried narrating the plot of his second novel to his uncle, who was a film writer and critic. After a patient hearing, he remarked, “I didn’t forget that it is 1st April today.”

Nandu was not prepared for such an incongruous reply. “But uncle…” he opened his mouth to say something when his uncle thundered.

“Don’t you think I understand your pranks?”

Pranks? Don’t you think my novel will be lucrative for any film producer?” Nandu asked in all his naiveté.

“Not as lucrative as life in a jail where you’ll soon land up,” he said tersely.

“Why? What have I done uncle?”

Now stop pretending as if you don't understand anything. Your novel’s plot is a copy of that super-hit rom-com DDLJ of SRK-Kajol. You have just altered the names of the characters. This is simply plagiarism.

“But uncle, I swear I have never seen the film,” Nandu said sincerely. Oh! Shut up. What do you mean by the hero and heroine meeting during Europe tour, the heroine’s stern dad and even your novel’s ending resembles the last scene, where the heroine hops into the train as the hero extends his hands,” he said, highly miffed.

“Then what can I do? It’s a mere coincidence!” Nandu said, almost in tears.

Enough of stories and novels ! Nandu decided to put an end to this humiliation.

Poetry seemed a better idea. Therefore, he sat at a corner of his garden and tried to look every inch an absent-minded poet he saw in some movie. He had disheveled hair, unshaven face, a carelessly worn kurta with a couple of buttons missing. He sat there gazing at the yellow flowers, trying his best to compose and consciously avoid any reference to William Wordsworth’s ‘The Daffodils,’ the poem he had read in high school. As his eyes shifted to the cellphone tower at a distance, his face brightened up at the prospect of making ‘flowers’ rhyme with ‘towers.’ “Now even Wordsworth himself cannot claim that my flowers have any connection to his yellow daffodils.” But his joy was short-lived as a big fat yellow wasp stung his wrist, jolting him out of his reverie. The swollen wrist took quite a few days to heal, cutting short his affair with poetry.

Finding Nandu heart-broken, his grandma suggested him to write essays on social problems. And since there is no dearth of such problems, he would never fall short of matter. “Good idea! At least I would be relieved from accusations of plagiarisms. But which problem should I begin with? Let me inspect the neighbourhood for a first-hand experience, which would render a realistic touch to my essays. I am sure problems would themselves crop up,” Nandu contemplated.

So, as Nandu walked past the lane near his house, he found Mr Pandey beating his pet Dachshund, which was reluctant to budge from that lane, having spotted a big menacing looking cat. “Stop beating the poor creature Pandeyji or else I will lodge a complaint against you with the local animal rights forum,” shouted dog lover Nandu.

“You needn’t advise me and mind your own business.” Pandey screamed.

“I will complain to the police and send you to jail,” Nandu retorted.

“And I will set those Alsatians on you if you act smart,” Pandey yelled back.

At this point, Nandu’s eyes fell on two ferocious Alsatians looking down from the balcony of Pandey’s house, located close to the lane. As if in support of their master, the fuming dogs started growling at Nandu and even seemed like they could leap down any moment. Well, this episode ended Nandu’s attempts at social service.

After a few days, Nandu found the local youth club was creating a lot of hullabaloo. They had put up quite deafening music that continued till late night. The ‘rebel’ writer in him resurfaced. Nandu decided to confront them before writing an essay about colony club culture and noise pollution.

He asked them to stop the blaring music and threatened police action against the local youth, most of whom looked like wrestling and boxing champions. And needless to say the aftermath, Nandu returned home with a bandaged right arm and a tomato-like nose.

Despite his best efforts Nandu’s dreams of becoming a novelist, poet or even an essayist was nipped in the bud.

A few days later, Nandu’s father introduced him to one of his friends who was the resident editor of a prominent English daily in the city. When he asked Nandu why he had quit writing, Nandu narrated all his bitter experiences.

He attentively listened and then smirked, “You know young man, the varied experiences of your inability to become a great writer and the misfortunes you met with actually make for a wonderful story. I would have published it in our ‘Real Life Story’ column, had I not read something similar somewhere earlier,” he said with a chuckle.

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