Tag Archives: writers

Linking with Fame

Many years ago, when things like Facebook didn’t exist and people became famous, they could only become distant stars. There was no easy way, apart from letters, for ordinary people to connect with them as fellow human beings.

I recently wrote a blog post about the play Gauhar with Rajeshwari Sachdev as the heroine. https://jasbirchatterjeephotoblog.wordpress.com/2019/02/26/gauhar/?preview=true

A few days after posting it, I had an inexplicable, strange urge to share it with Rajeshwari herself. I had no idea how I was going to do this. After several days of mulling over it, an idea came to me.

I looked up Rajeswari Sachdev on Facebook and sent her a message through Messenger with a link to my post. I felt a great relief after doing this, but I had no expectations whatsoever. There was no reason, after all, for a celebrity to engage with an ordinary non-theater person like me.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw her reply the very next day! She thanked me for writing in and wrote that she had read my blog post too. The screenshot of this conversation is given below.

I was the happiest and the proudest writer that day.

Not everyone, however, is so generous. A few years ago, I sent an email to the popular fiction writer Chetan Bhagat. I told him, in particular, that it was from his novels that my 13-year-old daughter developed an interest in reading and she has already read all of them he had written till then. I never got any reply. But that’s quite understandable. A busy fiction writer whose novels have been adapted into movies can’t be bothered with trivial fan mails. So, for me, he is just a distant star; a writer who lives in an ivory tower…

Mayank Austen Soofi, a famous blogger and writer, is, on the other hand, a great delight to work with. Though he is a a voracious reader and writes daily for his column in the Hindustan Times, he still manages to find time to reply to each and every comment he receives on his work and he also loves to shares it on his social media pages Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. He treats each and every person he writes about with great care and humility and it is no wonder that his work brings out the godliness in every human being he interacts with. Long after his stories are published and stored in the dusty archives, he continues to be friends with all his subjects. Sometimes he re-visits them at their homes and creates fresh stories.

What I mean to say is that fame and money are mere illusions. They abandon you as soon as the soul leaves the body. What remains are the results of your karma, what you did during your lifetime to make this world a better place for everyone; which again brings us back to where I started from, engagement with people.

The rules of social engagement are changing fast. For the better, I think.

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Nahid Kaiser

Photo courtesy: Jasbir Chatterjee

Nahid Kaiser, looking bubbly and cheerful…

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I had the honor of meeting Nahid Kaiser, a young, talented writer from Bangladesh, on 1 March 2016 at my friend Shampa Das’s place in Dwarka, Delhi.

While she recited her poems from ‘Eve Unbound,’ her latest anthology launched this year in the SAARC poetry festival, we listened to her, spell-bound, completely mesmerized by her sincerity. I could easily identify with them; they were so similar to what I had written myself in the past.

But what impressed me most was her completely uninhibited style of reciting poems on subjects that most women don’t feel very comfortable talking about in public. When you consider the fact that she comes from a country of imperiled bloggers and a society where women have a long way to go in matters of social liberty, it is, I think, quite a commendable achievement. She managed to make it look very innocent and not for once did I detect any kind of vulgarity.

Beginning with her first period, she went on to talk about “Qabool, Qabool, Qabool” when she was dressed as a bride, then about her life as a wife, a mother, and ended with her thoughts on her grandma. Sometimes she laughed, sometimes she cried, and sometimes her voice quivered and trembled in keeping with the different moods in the poems.

Most poets are introverts and it takes them several years to learn to express themselves aloud as eloquently as they do in their poems. When I started out myself, it felt like getting my teeth pulled out from my gums…

As the evening progressed, the poetry and play readings graduated to a Rabindra Sangeet session. Somewhere in the middle, the group mentioned that they were going to sing “Sonar Bangla” in her honor. With her characteristic smile, Nahid stood up and said, “Eta amader jatiyo gaan,” meaning “This is our national anthem.” We took the hint and we also stood up, tall and erect.

Suddenly the room with its makeshift auditorium resounded with the melodious voice of the singers singing this beautiful song accompanied by soft music playing in the background. It was a lovely moment!

It served as a gentle reminder that freedom and free speech are not free and come with certain responsibilities which are mandatory for everyone.

Inspired by Nahid’s recitation and my subsequent interaction with her, I wrote a poem of my own the following day, ‘My Shadow and I.’ It kind of matched with a photo I clicked recently. The photo is given below.

I wish you all the best, Nahid, and of course, a long, happy, poetic life ahead!

My Shadow And I

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