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     Volume 5 Issue 80 | January 27, 2006 |

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Slice of Life


Richa Jha

Sitting idly before my computer, staring at the blank screen hoping for inspiration for this week's piece to breeze in through the shut window glasses, I was only too happy to rush to answer the phone that rang just that instance. Any diversion at this stage was welcome! A known voice charged from the other end. "They really did this with you?"

It took me a while to figure what was being articulated, but then again, I didn't quite understand.

The well-wisher wanted to know if what had gone into the previous week's Column was true, and as such, it was undesirable on the part of a certain big establishment to have treated me thus. Collecting my senses, I didn't know how to react. One part of me wanted to laugh aloud and say that it boosted my ego to learn that every word that gets written by me is believed to be the gospel truth! But there was a larger part of me that felt that something had perhaps gone amiss somewhere, even if it meant a few people possibly believing a completely fictitious set of fabricated scribblings.

A writer may get carried away a little in the name of peppering a humourous or satirical piece with extra dollops of condiments, but then, as I realised, even a non-malicious intent could be distorted into a seemingly malicious content. And then again, it is all a question of interpretations. As a writer, when I write something in the hope that it be read in a particular manner, I have little control over it from the moment the email has been received by the editorial team, and slotted in its allotted place.

As I read and re-read the piece in question, I did start seeing how the attention of some readers might have got localised on one aspect of the piece, and not on the other. It is not impossible to misunderstand the essence of any article. The idea, in this particular case, was not to malign a name, but to rather portray how the common man's sense of importance might depend on being seen in the 'right' company of people!

The idea behind The Slice is simple. It is not about how others act. It is always about how The Hubby and The Wifey, or the Son would react to these actions. And though the overt nature of the Column would belie it, the pieces are always always introspective, not accusatory (or condescending) in nature. The finger is always pointed to the self, and not towards the one reading it. And the one thing I am unabashedly proud of about myself is my ability to laugh at myself.

And yet, I am not The Wifey. Nor is The Hubby my husband. Were it to be us, our lives would have bordered on the burlesque for the better part of our existence! Week after week I put paper to pen not to tell the world about what happened with me in the course of the past seven days. It may come as a surprise, but most of what goes on to this page have never ever happened! And therefore, Slice gets written in the hope that it will be taken with a pinch of salt- how much you add to it is entirely up to you, and as such, would differ from one to another.

Every yarn that gets spun around is inspired by the littlest of cues around me. Words, sentences, sounds or even silence trigger a series of disjointed images in the mind that throw up a promise of an 800 word strong story. The rest is what I make of it; more significantly, what every reader makes of it.

The written word is potent. Even more than the spoken word, because the written word can be read over and over again, and assimilated at length. No one meaning can be attributed to any given statement- and reading is such an intensely subjective exercise that the person to my right may extract one set of meanings from a given piece of writing, while the one on my left a completely different set.

Leaving you today with something I have always believed about the most multi-dimensional and delectably eternal exercises of all- Reading. Several things happen when you read. Every passing line aids you in forming an imagery in the private confines of your mind on the one hand; on the other, your mind is constantly framing, and reframing the image of the writer. It works overtime physically scanning the pages, understanding the words and pauses, assimilating the matter, reacting intelligently to it, and forming its own opinion on the subject! All at the same time, within split seconds of a fraction! Could there be an exercise any more engaging than reading?

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2006