I am thinking of a time before Whatsapp, before Facebook and even before the internet.
I am picturing in my mind (in fading flashback) a young wannabe writer sitting in the backyard of a palm-swept house, under the green shades of miscellaneous foliage, in the company of distant cockerels and nearby crows, tooled with a pen and a writing pad, registering little thoughts that a localized mind and milieu can inspire. The musings were unsullied by external influences and the exercise was disciplined by nature. They were inspired by their own purpose to be revealed and recorded. They survived because they couldn’t die unborn.
Writing was then a sacred ritual that one attended to like morning prayers.
I am thinking of a time when reports from the morning paper and one round of evening TV bulletin was all one had for news gathering, along with some commentary from the magazines infrequently purchased, stories from the books that the nearest library could ladle out and barely any debate to break one’s head over. We knew things that had to be essentially known, and not a morsel more.
Reading was then a conscientious task that one indulged in like filial duty.
I am now living in a time pressed by real and unreal walls. The swaying green shades belong to a distant era; now the shades in which I sit are cement grey, weighed down by tons of concrete. The tools and setting have become too urbane and intimidating for comfort. The thoughts are splintered and the mind is shepherded by rogue elements on the rampage. It feels like living in a mental space that is being carpet bombed with this, that and all else that don’t essentially matter. There is no place to hide; no haven for quiet contemplation. Even the closet in the house is cluttered with needless accumulations.
I am thinking of a time when I wrote unhindered, aided by sweet tranquility, when words had shapes and character, and thoughts had an identity. Now when I write, surrounded by hysteria, the words that I generate become an amorphous mess, and thoughts get caught in a quagmire.
I long to pare myself down to the bare essentials, shun the distractions, escape the chaos and return to a time when thought was uncorrupted, writing was guileless and the setting was rustic. A time when writing was the means and the end to happiness.
I am thinking what it would be like to return to a world before the virtual hurricanes hit us. I am thinking what it would be like to live far from the crowd and cacophony. To be primitive in these times of untamed progress.
And I also wonder if I have travelled too far into the future to return to the pristine beginnings.