When there is nothing to write or no inclination to write on anything, best is to write about oneself. Not an autobiography but the prevailing mood placed on auto-pilot. A narcissistic verbal trip is a nice indulgence, if passed off as common musings.
Politicos and public personalities routinely do it albeit without exposing themselves. Beneath the ink-deep surface of most news lie a popular ego, waiting to be tickled. You can trust my word; I and my ilk are in this ‘honourabe’ profession of offering such cosy camouflages, wittingly and unwittingly, to pompous human entities who see no world beyond their skins.
Media is less of newsbreaking and more of newsbroking between newsmakers and newstakers. And now we have newsfakers too. But under the veneer of public ‘interest’, personas are perennially at play to pounce on print and primetime if only to mark a presence. And for all its claims, ‘credentials’, campaigns and championings for common good, the hard truth is, media loves to pamper.
So having served the snooty of the society so much, many scribes naturally feel the urge to hog some limelight themselves. So why not I too turn the camera inward for a wordy selfie? Not that I have not done this before, but I do feel hugely self-conscious now. My father TRR cultivated physical anonymity religiously. None would recognise him on the street for all his glory as a bi-lingual columnist whose daily writings determined the commercial and also ideological fate of his newspaper and polity respectively. His absence on print meant a void at the cash counter as well as in many minds. Such was his sway, and yet he kept a very low profile. And yes, he too praised, but with a practised finesse.
Not just TRR, but the faces of many of the doyens of his era are lost in the mist of time. They are only visible through their literary legacy. Most recently, Ashokamitran passed into history, leaving not many framed photographs, but famed prose that would remain immortal.
I for one have, till a few years back, resisted and fought shy of personal limelight, not certainly because I dont like it, but because I believed, like my father did, anonymity is strength. After all – or is it ‘before all? – even God is anonymous. Also, remaining faceless in print helps you duck brickbats, bouncer squads and even bombs though such insurance is not available to the publication as such. Fact is I did get away with some dangerous stuff only because my stalkers did not know me and of course many did not understand what I was trying to say. I even gave wrong directions to a grisly group. No, I just made that up to drive home the point.
That’s all passe. The last year has been one of revelation, mine, in quite a few fora, official and personal. The lifting of the veil and the resultant glimmers of recognition in public have been both embarrassing, elevating and even emboldening. For, it’s not about me alone, but Talk Media. I have no pretense of humility in ‘admitting’ that I created it. But so many have helped build it over the past decade. And as is usually the case, the creation now dwarfs this clueless creator. Talk has taken a life, speed and spirit of its own; and I am now struggling to get a grasp of the vibrant entity that I kickstarted and kindered.
An auspicious personal event has also suddenly brought the curtains down on a ‘past life’. The future lies like a blank slate, but not wholly pointless. To say I am on a threshold is a lofty way to put it. ‘On edge’ is closer to truth. Public visibility has cost me print visibility. Being seen than read is not something I relish. More because I believe crowds dilute and derail the train of thoughts. Aah, what lack of self-confidence. Such mental closets are of no avail any more.
A lifeline comes from my core conviction that one must write for oneself. Any audience is only abstract and amorphous. Also, saving the world can wait. Anonymity now seems a commercial vice in media. Possibly public exposure is a good thing after all. Writing can be more experiential, experimental and exploratory rather than arm-chair expositions. No taboos and no commitment to consistency. No commitment even to writing unless the need resembles a biological urge like, well, forget it. How liberating! So here I am, unplugged! Now you see me!