Writer’s Block

“That’s no good.”

Before she could even contemplate using it as a title, she found herself tapping at the backspace button. It wasn’t good enough, her first thoughts almost never were.

She wished she could switch away from the brightness of the blank page on her screen. It reminded her of her empty mind, or was her mind filled with too many thoughts, she couldn’t decide. The blinking cursor was almost like a time bomb, waiting to go off – she just wished she knew when. When she started typing, she knew she wouldn’t stop; she could almost imagine herself typing furiously at the keyboard, as her fingers tried to keep up pace with her thoughts. But it didn’t seem to have been written in her destiny tonight.

“Do I need a break?”

She knew the deadline was near, and a break was almost out of the question, but she didn’t see anything productive coming out of her staring at a blank screen. What could possibly ignite her creativity?

“Perhaps a cup of coffee?”

She quickly erased that thought, she had a lot of work ahead of her and the deadline was near.

“The Taj Mahal – the topic has been done to death. What more can I possibly write about? Everyone knows the story – the why, what, when, where and how – couldn’t I have been asked to write about the unexplored instead.”

She thought back to the time she visited the Taj Mahal. The splendid beauty of the Taj almost took away the biting chill in the air that cold January morning. The guide led her through the gate and to the white marble structure – all the while stressing on the magnificence of the Taj.

“I can’t talk about that. Who doesn’t know about it? The magazine’s readers are hard core travel junkies – nothing like that would ever interest them.”

Writing used to come easy to her. There were days when she found inspiration in the smallest of things and opened a new note every day to pen down her thoughts.

“When did writing become a job? When did I stop writing about what inspired me?”

A travelogue she had written was published in one of the biggest travel magazines in the country, and she thought she had landed. After all, that’s exactly what she wanted to be – a travel writer. Now that she had to keep up that momentum and standard,

“It was fine till the time there were no expectations, and I was trying to sell what I wrote. Now I’m trying to write what will sell.”

She could feel the frustration that was creeping in. She had a deadline she couldn’t miss, and a blank page in front of her. How she longed to see the words suddenly appear across the screen. As she stared at the blank screen, she smiled when she realised how scratched out a page would have been had she been writing on paper. Today there was a wonder called “backspace”.

“I can actually backspace so many things in life – what I write, what I mail, what I chat.”

She realised that she relied on the backspace option too often. A lot of people she knew did too.

“We need to learn to live without knowing we can fall back on the backspace button. We’re so dependent on it, that we even use it in relationships.”

She realised that in the honeymoon phase of the relationship, names were written together – friends received messages and gifts from the couple, they were always seen together; the girl even tried out her name with her partner’s surname. But just when things got tough, backspace! The association was gone and wiped clean, as if it were never there.

“Perhaps that’s why there’s lesser thought going into relationships – dating and even marriages are being taken too casually these days.”

She thought about how relationships were made and broken as if they were made out of paper.

“If things go wrong, eject and backspace – you have a clean slate again.”

It got her thinking about commitment, and how soon it would be more feared than death itself.

“It’s almost like commitment has come with a loophole in the terms and conditions. “Fear commitment? Press backspace!””

And there she had it! It was her eureka moment!

“Why didn’t I think of this before? It’s a simple concept.”

Almost instantly the words flew from her mind to her fingers, and the “witchcraft” with which people believed she typed came to life.

“The beauty of the Taj Mahal lies in the choice Shah Jahan made to not hit the backspace button….”

If you liked the story, please vote for this entry at the Mumbai LitFest Contest here.

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