Cyrus on (a), (b) and (c) of writing

Here’s the teaser, with his list of approved topics: Shaving, waxing, cleaning of cars, dog walkers, arthritis, plastic fruit industry, water filtration, short pants and Indian men, sugar-free ice-creams, and smsing in Sanskrit

Updated - March 15, 2023 07:41 pm IST

Published - March 10, 2023 04:30 pm IST

Illustration by Satheesh Vellinezhi

Illustration by Satheesh Vellinezhi

I got a call from the ‘Hindu’. Er... not the community, it’s a newspaper; the one you are reading. Not that I got a call from a Parsee, or a Muslim, or a Christian, either. This is the call I got so just let’s go with that. The caller was clear, they needed me to write a column. I asked the lady who called, if she’s read anything I’ve written. Her reply was, “Obviously not, hence we want you to write”. We both immediately accepted the logic behind that statement, her with less derision than I expected.

We then proceeded to tackle the two most important facts of journalism in the 21st century. (a) What topic to write on? (b) What clothes to wear at the time of writing? (By the way, she also requested that I don’t use the (a), (b) and (c) style of setting up points as that is both, a banal and an infantile way of communicating, so... er... never again). 

She then proceeded to give me topics we must stay clear of; the list includes, politics and religion (which often is one and the same thing in the country), any living person, co-operations, banks, animals, Vedic principles, history, and Manish Sisodia. Between you and me, I’m experiencing growth as a writer just from the last few lines. Please note how this writer in Lionel Messi style, passed over the chance to use the (a), (b) and (c) style in that last paragraph, or so. I like my options narrowed down. On that principle, and that principle alone, my wife chose to marry me!

After a few minutes of serious thought — primarily because Rohit Sharma was batting on 98 at the time and the lady quite rightly wanted to watch him reach three figures — I meanwhile nailed the topics I could freewheel, and occasionally drive over, even if it means breaking a no entry and driving on the wrong side of a road. A privilege which Mumbai has mastered and Bengaluru is improving upon.

These topics came flying at me thick and fast. Keep in mind the column’s length must be 27 years or so according to an algorithm I will not be able to present at this point of time. So, we need topics, subjects, events, point of view, or whatever else we can forward from the internet. Here’s my list in no particular order, and obviously not a complete, thorough list. Shaving, waxing, cleaning of cars, dog walkers, arthritis, plastic fruit industry, water filtration, short pants and Indian men, sugar-free ice-creams, and SMSing in Sanskrit.

However, dear-er reader, today’s topic is fairly obvious, we need a title for this column. Something that symbolises and signifies the essence of the column itself. The lady boss came up with two options. The first was ‘Reflections’ to which my reaction was to choke and gag. The second was ‘Meditations’ to which my reaction was to pass out. Besides Marcus Aurelius’ descendants, who now go by the family name Gomes, may sue. And that is never a good start for the column.

I had no choice at this point, but to put my hand up, first to stretch, and then to suggest, with a stroke of accidental genius, “The Column That Wasn’t”. As Saadat Hasan Manto once said, (his only alleged quote in English), “Always borrow from what you already have”.

I pause as they refuse to add in a drum roll, or appropriate fanfare music. Now then, with no pomp and little splendor, we present, “The Column That Wasn’t”.

Er... next time... er... of course.

The writer has dedicated his life to communism. Though only on weekends.

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