You encouraged me to read when I was ten. You read loud to me Alfred Noyes’ ‘Highwayman’ and Charles Kingsley’s ‘The Sands of Dee’ . Your stentorian voice enlivened those rather lonely evenings of my life as I sat at your feet by the fountains of the lawns of our sprawling but dilapidated house. Your financial difficulties had left you with few friends and perhaps poetry was an escape from reality. I was the net beneficiary.
I then felt that you did not have as great an accent as compared to my beautiful English teacher, whom I adored. Despite your ‘bizarre’ accent, you ignited a rare passion in me for reading classics. You had studied Maths and Eco but you had a fond passion for Literature. I guess that it must be the tribulations of your difficult adolescence that led you into poetry and literature. I now believe (“in tranquil restoration”) that the great ‘like’ button which you pressed for English language transformed me to be a good human being. Thank you, Dad…
By eleven, you had encouraged me to write. I wrote short stories, which I now feel were of little worth . Patiently, you read through and edited. You would then ask me to go to the post office and register them to local newspapers … print media was strong then Dad… The post man had a quiet smile on his face as I managed to obtain rejections on a scale of 9 on 10… yet you were never disappointed… “Keep trying”, you said. I do that even now, Dad, I sincerely heed to your advice. I am not dejected when I do not get readers. I should try to improve, is it not?
You told me to write with a purpose. You told me to have a great ‘intro’ and then you quoted Shakespeare “All’s well that ends well”. So I knew I had to start and finish well.
You told me of the Athenians and the Spartans and of their words ‘logos, ethos and pathos’…and of the need to apply these to writing. You redefined ‘logos’ as logic in writing which flows between an arresting beginning (many years later when I heard the word ‘Achtung’ on Frankfurt’s railway platforms, I knew that people had to wait for the great train to arrive at its destination when reading… a writer hasto carry through to a destination) and a memorable conclusion.
You reinterpreted ‘ethos’ as culture. You suggested that I ought to have ‘immaculate’ sincerity in writing. “Be dignified and do not cheat the reader” , you said. I must tell you that I try to maintain that poise which you imparted to me.
You laughed with tears in your eyes as you explained ‘pathos’ : you taught me that “life distilled is somewhat of a sad story”. “Your writing”, you exhorted, “must incorporate these three elements”. I try, Dad, I really try hard.
You constructed the Cs for me : concept, clarity, coherence, consistency. I must confess that I struggle even now, Dad, with these. I sometimes think I understood c as convolution and complexity!
You advised me not to meander in thoughts but to stay focused. Dad, I am helpless as a thousand horses run through my little mind. You had told me to yoke them to the bullocks of slow, cogitative, rational thinking. I cannot bridle these ‘Lochinvarian’ steeds.
Your mathematical mind is analytical. Now with the advent of inescapable time which attacks your memory, as you struggle to recognize my face, I still think that you are clinically sharp. Dad, I tried hard to assimilate these analytical skills in my writing; but somehow those seem to bypass me.
As you recommended, I struggle to gather evidence in writing to substantiate my claims. I falter at the altar of analysis. I feel that my writings are a jungle of words. It is then a bundle of ‘unpredictabilities’… it is then ambiguity… I feel that it is deceptive to the reader… I try not to rush; I try not to hurry; I keep it overnight, read them the next morning to see if it really is good… and then, I give up….
You taught me not to be superfluous. You quoted Shakespeare’s Hamlet to “brevity is the soul of wit”. However, I repeat, I recant, I retract…
No dad, despite your several tips, I am sorry I am not as yet a good writer. You went broke educating me high. You never ever hinted to me but I know you had high expectations. Sitting by your bed of arrows, in this long night together, let me hold your hands and assure you, I am trying to be a good, truthful writer.