In my younger days as a writer/content writer, a heavily edited script used to make me feel miserable. I hated my editors and managers, and thought that they don’t know English. There have been times when I have cried myself to sleep over a document that bled with red marks of shame.
Today, things are a little different. Just finished editing this page from an upcoming story that I am writing. It looks like it has been through a war of thousand cuts. Yet, I feel immense joy and pride in this work. It’s not perfect, it will never be perfect. However, with every edit I bring it little closer to perfection. As a writer, I think that is what counts.
I have always been a very reluctant buyer. I don’t particularly enjoy going from one shop to the other, heckling with the shop owners, or getting the newest craze on the market. So traditional shopping has been a downer for me. Things changed when I moved to online shopping.
I now spend a considerably longer time surfing through online shopping portals for things, I don’t need. I have bought too many books that I will probably never read, and movies that I would never see. So nothing wrong with spending money on stuff I don’t need right? Wrong.
I recently realized that when I actually need to buy things that I would probably use more often, I have no money left for it. There is always credit card, and easy EMI option, but I wouldn’t have had to take a loan if I had didn’t spend purchasing needless stuff.
Then again, when I look at my bookshelf, it does look kind of awesome. 🙂
Hamid re-opened his eyes and saw a tank moving towards him. At distance deafening sound of grenades accompanied visuals of flying body parts. Strangely, none of it affected Hamid, he was only focused on landmines that would blow up any time now, destroying the Tank. Another blast nearby forced him to close his eyes and duck back in the ditch. When he opened his eyes again, the Tank had successfully crossed the barbwire fence, and he found himself staring down at the artillery gun aimed at him. His radio unit kept buzzing long after the Tank had crossed over Hamid’s company.
In 1990’s Sunday mornings used to be quite a dull affair. Except we would end up watching the seminal classic of Ramnand Sagar – The Ramayan. There are stories of people actually decorating their television sets with garlands. Towards the late 90’s my affection for the lord was replaced by much colorful and distinctly non-Indian fictional characters. It ranged from X-Men, to Avengers, and of course, Batman. Reflecting back on that, I now feel that it wasn’t that big a leap of faith as one would like to believe. Ramayan after all is the most amazing superhero story ever told, and shares many elements with modern day superheros. Don’t believe me? I can give you 4 reasons why you should.
1. Bad Parenting or Parenting Mishaps
It’s an intrinsically human feeling to expect the best from our Parents. They cannot be too good, they cannot be too bad, they have to do right by us when we don’t even know what is the right thing to do. Oh, and they can’t die when we need them. Not much, right? Because of these high expectations that human beings generally have from parents, any error in a parental figure’s part results in tremendous sympathy for the protagonists. Look at the number of fictional characters who have lost parents or have had bad ones. Harry Potter, Batman, Cinderella, Iron Man, Hulk, and of course Lord Ram who was sent to exile by his own father for no mistake of his own. It immediately makes him a protagonist that we care about.
2. Riches to Rags to Riches Story
There is something that is as important as parenting, being well off or rich. For most people extreme riches or power is highly aspirational. We would never have that, and thus we are obsessed about it. So someone who has it all has all the qualities that we can dream of, right? Wrong! What’s even better than simply being rich is to lose it all, and then gain it again. Case in point – Tarzan, born to a wealthy couple, lost in the Jungle to lose it, only to gain it back. By the way another orphan. Or, if you want another mythological example, story of King Nala and Damayanti is insanely similar. Ram losing out his kingdom even if for a short time creates a sense of injustice, and make us rally behind him even more.
3. With Great Power Comes Great Sacrifice
Oh Jesus! Where do I even begin with this one? Perhaps with Jesus himself. The most epic figure who sacrificed himself for sake of humanity. Not unlike other selfless superheros like Batman who doesn’t sleep, Harry Potter who will face mortal peril to save his school, Spiderman who gives up on love for duty, Captain America who drives a plane to his own perceived death, list is endless. We love our heroes to be tormented, and tortured. We are sadistic by nature, and their agony makes it okay for them to have a great power. We allow them this power because they are also losing out on a lot. It’s a bitter fact that we must accept. Travails of Ram, his personal sacrifice when he gives up on Sita for sake of what he thinks is right would have made him an instant favorite with masses, and still contributes to his popularity.
4. Real Heros Always Win
Okay, let’s think for a minute. Which extremely popular character has ended up losing out battles of ideology in their life? Think harder, can you think of one? Probably can’t as most heroes follow a very common fiction trope – Heroes always win. They might have a hiccup or minor set back, but eventually they are the ones who are on the winning side. In Rocky series, the protagonist loses often, yet he is seen winning ‘hearts’ or winning eventually, firmly establishing him as the ‘hero’. So, no matter how much we like Joker, he will never win, neither would Raavan, even though he was considered to be the greatest warrior, a scholar, and righteous person.
Not just Ramayana, most of mythology and Grimm’s fairy tales are full of some of these common fiction tropes. It’s remarkable to notice these similarities between ancient literature and modern literature. Character development, and the way society perceives them remains astonishingly similar. So next time when your parents talk about how comic books have ruined you, perhaps talking about how Ramayana could have been a graphic novel if Valmiki lived in today’s age might be an interesting rebuttal. Or maybe not, because unlike the superheros’, real life parents kick real ass.
As an avid reader and a guy, one just cannot ignore some of the greatest men who ever put a word down in writing. But sometimes it becomes difficult to keep a track of every single one of them, especially if you have a day job. Honestly, by the time you become old enough to understand quality literature, you really do not have enough time to enjoy it. So it leads to some of the funniest scenes you would ever come across when it comes to literature.
Sometimes I get too drawn in an author, and lose my ability to read anything else apart from what that author provides. I am at his mercy for some time. Recently I was taken by Fydor Dostovsky. A chance encounter with an old friend gave me an opportunity to gush about it like a school girl would for Brad Pitt. ( For those who think I am too proud, do notice how I can make fun of myself.) My dear friend, bless him, is unaware about wonders of Dostovsky. It does not help that he has extraordinary listening skills. So I did not know what to reply when he said ” Yes, Doston ke saath whisky peene jaisa kuch nahi”. It seems far fetched, but there are people out there who would think this way.
It helped me learn a valuable lesson though, nothing is set in stone. Because, the same friends is doing relatively good in professional life, is a genuine good at heart person, well liked by all. Does it really make him any lesser, if he doesn’t think much of Dostovsky? Common sense says it doesn’t, but can’t help feeling a bit superior. Old habits die hard I guess. After having read through some of his finest works, I decided to call up some old friends, for a possible late night get together. What is the life after all without friends and chats? My good friend had understood this even without reading Dostovsky, while I took my precious time. Maybe having a girlfriend has helped him understand the agonies of life better. But that is a topic for another post, isn’t it?