August 12, 2014

Project #1000Sher : Origins & The Inspiration

क्या तूने कहा किसे खबर किसे मालूम,
मैं तो तेरी आवाज़ ही सुनता रह गया…
(First of the 1000Sher. November 16, 2011 ). 

... And the whole school clapped. Yet again. Morning assemblies and his poems had become a routine affair now. He was the Superstar of School. 

I was mesmerized. How can he write stuffs that I can't even think of? And then have the audacity to walk up to the stage and recite it in front of at least 1000 younger and older fellow students. 

Will he become my friend? I was a class topper of course, but I was sure nobody knew me outside of my section. But He!.. Everybody knew him. He was The Guy! Will he ever become my friend? 

"Rey-vi could you write a poem to recite in tomorrow's morning assembly?". My 9th Class English teacher thought I was good in English. She probably concluded it from my marks in the subject. Of course, she couldn't pronounce my name properly. She was a Keralite probably. But I couldn't care less that day.

A chance to recite a poem in the morning assembly! Wow! May be that popular  guy would see me recite poem, get impressed and become my friend. And then people would see me hanging out with him and then I would become popular too. The dream was about to come true. All that I had to do was a write a great poem. 

But there were 2 problems. I had never written a poem in my life. And I had never walked up to the stage to utter a single word. 

I went home and spent that whole evening writing a poem. I don't know what exactly I wrote but I think it was on environment and shit. I tried to portray trees as living creatures. They are the treasure of our society and we shouldn't harm them. Blah blah blah... BLAH! 

But it rhymed! I had made ample use of "sexy sounding words" and jargon by consulting the dictionary so it was technically a poem. I was proud. I crammed it. 

Next morning, 5 minutes before I was to go up the stage the English teacher reviewed my poem. "What have you written?!" she said, as she took out her red pen. She couldn't understand my passionate monologue on trees. A few phrases deleted  here, a few words changed there. The sense remained the same but it wasn't the same masterpiece anymore. 

I went to the stage. I recited. I fumbled at 2 places. It was a run-of-the-mill affair. I heard a few claps as I returned. But they weren't claps of applause but of courtesy. I wasn't the Super Star like that guy, that I had hoped to become. I was heartbroken. I deduced - I am incapable to write poems

So I went back to my first love of solving maths problems and physics numericals. 

In 11th standard my best friend showed me his register full of poems he wrote in English. And they were all Good. They seemed to be written effortlessly. I thought it was because he had gotten bored of studying (But now I think he was in love.) And, of course I felt cheated that time. How could he write poems when I being his best friend can't write any? 

Meanwhile that Superstar Guy and I were classmates now. I wasn't a "friend" may be, but He knew me now!

A few girls I liked would sometimes write poems and put them up on display boards. And I won't understand 70% of it (refer this to know what I mean) . "Do these words even exist in  English vocabulary?". 

It was frustrating. I was (still) the class topper. Many more people knew me now. But that guy would still walk up to the stage on any random day, recite some shit and get all the applause. And now he was on School Bulletin Boards, School  Magazine (of which he was the Editor) and sometimes even in Newspapers. And somewhere in between he published his own book of poems! 

He would sometimes walk up to me and ask me to clarify certain theorems, numericals etc. And then later he would say "how awesome you are". While I would try to determine if he was being sympathetic or sarcastic. 

And those girls... When we would come face to face, I would feel they are saying "Hey RavS, you might be good in solving differentials and vectors and optics problems, and all the Teachers might adore you. But we can write poem you won't ever understand in your life. Ergo, We win; You lose."

Inferiority Complex. Aaarghhh... 

That Superstar guy left school a few months before 12th boards. He had some other evil plans. It was kind of sad, we were good acquaintances, if not friends by now... 

2 years would pass and except for occasional chats on Social networks, we lost touch. Then one day, he would start visiting home, and only then would we become 'real friends'. He had stopped writing poems regularly by now. But every now and then he would update some on his blog.

And sometimes he would create them "live" at a rough speed of 2 lines/5 Seconds. It was AMAZING. I would have a hard time to find adjectives in praise of his poems (Side Note : Poems aren't for everyone . But they are one of the concise forms of expressing yourself. And I have always loved them (the ones that I understand, that is) ).

On the eve of Christmas 2010, I was feeling a cocktail of bored and lonely. So, I wrote what I would call "My First Mental Vomit". I liked it. But I wasn't a poet yet (I think I would never be one in traditional sense).

Then came 2011 as I left College. Something changed. I was bored. I wanted to try something new. I started writing spoofs of my friends' poems on FB. It was a joke, but surprisingly people liked them. They were hilarious. Sometimes they would be liked more than the original. 

I thought may be I can also write something serious. So, I started putting some of my own thoughts in the form of rhyming lines. Most would get ignored, but some started to get appreciated too. It was fun. Friends were encouraging. And the best part, my Superstar friend was appreciative. He would critic them sometimes, sometimes he would write a few lines in 'response' to my own (a tradition that continues till date). It was such a humbling experience. So slowly, it started to become a habit. 

I also started to put the long form of the poems on the main blog. Then sometime in early 2012 I realized, may be I could be in this for the long run. So why not archive my creations? And hence the project #1000Sher was born

1000 Sher! - it's intimidating. But the number isn't impossible to achieve either. It's going to take years and years of constantly writing shit. But I am up for the challenge. 

My Superstar friend(s) have been supportive and that has always been an essential reason I continue to write even though I don't have any "natural talent". Recently I completed 200 Shers on 1000Sher (we are at #221 as I write this) . Who gets the credit for this milestone? Me of course! But it would never have been possible without the encouragement of friends and supporters. 

Do I write good? I don't know. It may very well be ordinary. Who am I to judge? But my yardstick is that if at least one person likes it genuinely, then it's an effort well spent. And by that yardstick 95% of my compositions (in whatever form) have been successful. 

I don't know if Project #1000Sher will ever see its completion. It's an ultra-marathon considering I am not a professional writer. But I am not giving up on it anytime in the near future. 

And ohh!... Vikas, the Superstar Poet/Philosopher/Friend in my life  for the past 1 decade. And the one who has been an inspiration of it all - Thank You!