An Imposter’s Dream

I had two ideas in my mind for the Mint Lounge column this week: One was the story of inconsequential, unknown drivers in the interiors of India who people like me (my FB friends, peers and readers) don’t like to think of for longer than 1 minute. We also like to casually suggest that you never know whether they are lying and trying to victimize us poor (rich), soft-hearted (cynical) souls. Sniff. Steer back all our attention and resources to ourselves.

The other was a deeply personal story titled: “The difference between Afzal and me” …which is a document of how differently we react when he faces racial profiling, i.e. when he is rejected/insulted/excluded/denied reservations because of his name. It makes him look better than me… but again I worried about a general reader reaction that would go… “of course Muslims must put up with this everyday discrimination because people like us are the real victims… we have to put up with terror…then our news channels’ breathless reaction to terror and whatnot. And all Muslims are terrorists, so please excuse.”

As usual, just when the time comes to actually type the column, I become utterly unconvinced that my thoughts-words-ideas matter to anyone. And I feel cynical about the response and expectations of readers.

Jisko kahte hain: I was in the throes of IMPOSTER SYNDROME : Nobody wants to read the nonsense you write, Natasha.

I knew my column was due, then my distraction brain brought to the notice of my writing brain that Sanjukta had not asked for the column this week like she usually does. I sent her an email.

A couple of hours later I remembered that she was on leave. No one else had asked, either. I didn’t remember who I was supposed to email… Rudraneil, the Editor in her absence, is not visible on social media and I have no real interaction with Lounge staffers… so I couldn’t remember him.

To type or to sleep? So I began to sleep through the night in fitful instalments… in between which I would check my phone to see whether there was any email. Sanjukta wrote back saying you would co-ordinate… but no mail from Rudraneil.

Finally it was early hours…and I dreamt this dream. An Imposter’s Dream.

Rudraneil really didn’t care for my column… his thoughts are, “now that Sanjukta is not here, I will get rid of this useless piece!”

He said to me, “You know the relevance of what you have been writing is now over. You need to reinvent yourself. You should get over yourself.”

In the dream, he took me on a tour of the Lounge office…which was a decrepit, run-down place in the basement of some old building… maybe in Daryaganj, to give me an idea of how little the Lounge office cared for whether I filed my column or not. No one looked up from their desks. I didn’t belong here.

He showed me some kind of prize the column had won a couple of years ago. I said, “Really, no one told me.”

He said, “See, we don’t care a damn!”

This is what it was: All my deep, inner child-person fears of not belonging, not being valued, not being of any consequence came out and USED him to enact this impromptu theatre in my head.

It’s really quite funny when I wake up and slap myself a couple of times for playing this macabre game with myself.

 

 

Poems of love and loss

I love my hair.

He loves my face.

You look better with your glasses on, he says.  
What is this way of loving my face, I say. 

He takes back my hair behind my ears with both his hands and says,
I love your mind.
His eyes are green.

***************

Inside my mouth is a battleground. 

My teeth are fallen soldiers.
Injured. Amputees.
Guilt is embedded in my molars.
My teeth have PTSD. 
They grind against each other in my sleep.

My dentist is my best friend.