Here, India’s beloved scribbler from the hills, Ruskin Bond, talks about the seat of his creation: his writing desk, and the minutiae of a writerly life that clutters it. No less important are the various calls that break the spell: of inquisitive young readers, of importunate organisers of litfests, and yes, even of sudden slumber.
As I write, a small spider runs across my desk, scrambles over a pile of manuscripts, and rapidly climbs the wall. This is a good sign. Running down the wall is not so good; it means an earthquake is about to happen. I have a large desk, but there isn’t much room left on it for writing. Stacks of neglected correspondence, notebooks, tattered newspaper clippings, page proofs, tax papers, royalty statements, rolls of sellotape, all jostle for space, leaving me just one small corner of the desk for my writing pad.
But it’s strategically placed, this old desk of mine. It is only one small step from my bed. And that means, whenever I feel drowsy (which is fairly often), I have only to glide over to the comfort of a double mattress and enjoy half-an-hour’s oblivion.
And then the phone rings. It’s actually working today. A musical voice greets me. It’s one of my young readers, and she wants me to help her with her homework. Can I please tell her the difference between ‘duplicate’ and ‘replicate’? Not so easy, but I do my best.
Before I can get started on a literary composition of my own, the postman arrives. It’s a letter announcing another upcoming literary festival. Lit Fests are spreading like wildfire, at the latest count (and counting just mine), these cerebral events will be taking place in Shimla, Kasauli, Mussoorie, Calcutta, Bhubaneshwar, Bangalore and Goa, not forgetting Jaipur and Dubai.
If I go to all of them, I will cease being a writer. So, regretfully, I send my regrets to all. And return to the task in hand. This little piece.
Done! And now it’s time for lunch. Fish curry today!
The story of a dominating, extravagant, ‘wicked, naughty’, wordly woman and her antics, Maharani is Bond’s new novel for adults.