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Five years later, if anyone would have asked Lekhchand about the essay he’d written he’d defensively laugh over how childish his vanity had been. Yet, he would say, there was something beautiful about false confidence of a novice. After all, the day had proved to be a landmark in his journey of finding a fuller expression (he disliked calling it merely learning how to write better) as an artist.

Much of his life now would be spent only during nights- he strongly felt that the nights made his feelings a lot deeper, connecting thoughts and fantasizing on possibilities were often interrupted during the day, and most importantly at night there was no source for validation and no need for it either.

On one such night in the first week of March, a love song had inspired in Lekhchand an intense adventure of thought. They would by serendipity alone meet one fine day after years. Overwhelmed by emotions,  they would not be able to hold back the love they had carried in the recesses of their heart for so many years. For a brief period, Lekhchand felt happy as if the day was tomorrow.

On other nights though, Lekhchand didn’t feel so positive. He blamed the countless movies and pop songs for giving him the idea that there was such a thing as love- where two souls become one body, a jigsaw part fits into another, a match made in heaven, the only aspect of nature where the disease and the cure are not mutually exclusive.

He also blamed himself for not being an adept swindler. He blamed his parents for hindering his education in this regard, let alone giving it. After all, if he was a good enough swindler he’d synchronise his idea of love with that of the girl’s and all talk about love being real or unreal would be rendered hogwash.

There were times, even more depressing- where even after all these days of pining and frustration, he’d let go off an opportunity presented right at his door. He would try his best, but it would fall flat. Hope became a silly thing at such times.

***

The only redeeming thing after all of these problems he had was his writing. To describe a failure exactly was his aim. And, weren’t all the people he was inspired by similar failures. The great Van Gogh himself had said, “What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart.” He was sure that even though Van Gogh was a painter, a library could be made out of writers who had similar ambitions with their art. Whether they were as good as Van Gogh or not, was irrelevant.

On a whim he decided that he’d write a novel. He had developed a method for composing short stories. He could rattle out a paragraph of insight on any character he wished, could send his mind back to any moment of his experience in order to recapture it, and had a way with expressing moments where a mind reasoned with itself- this aspect he liked best about his writing.

Novels, though had intimidated him. How to make a character go from one chain of thought to another? How to introduce not just one character, but many? He could make it a series of events, but that would be the same as writing a book of short stories. “So what?”, he told himself in order to negate the thought. A book must capture human experience, and by writing about a hundred small instances, he could very well write a novel. It may not have a climax towards the end or the setting up of events which will lead to another, but weren’t books like that something he’d like to read. What plot did English, August have after all. “Life does not have a plot. Why should films have one?” was what the great indie director Jim Jarmusch had said. On that thought, he mentally reminded himself to download Stranger than Paradise the next time he went online. And began to think where to start his novel from. How could he learn how to write them, until he took a crack at it. In the process, many of its mysteries and possibilities would be revealed to him. That was certain.

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