Ashit looked around, he could see the coffee dispensing machine, the broken pencils in the recycle bin, the writer though was missing.
Ashit knew this smell a familiar smell of moving on. The guest would move on, leaving stale memories of them behind. As a house keeper Ashit had seen many of them, they were all in the same format… writer…coffee… broken pencils. Nobody would believe that they all wrote about different stuff strange isn’t it.
He had learnt all what he had to learn about people from grandpa, grandpa had taught him well, about people those who loved to get dirty and fix things. They were the ones who drank coffee at dawn, beer after work, and then there those who stayed clean just appreciating things. At breakfast they would have juice and drink a glass of milk before bed. Finally there were guests who did both, were the kinds who drank tea.
He remembered the writer Amitav, who was there to write his book on the seedy side of life in a tourist town. That day Amitav’s lady friend was telling him
There was something about the flat on top his mother let out; it seemed to attract a lot of people. Ashit thought of his mother, she was a single parent, one of those rare women of her generation who chose to like the bohemian way. In the early days at Chennai where he was born, the sniggers and smirks embarrassed him. Then they had moved to Pondi, the township had accepted his mother and him with no questions. His aunt had visited them. It was the first time he saw another side of his mother,
“What do you want,” she had asked glaring at her sister,
“Just coffee… you know black my like soul” his aunt had replied. It was as if something had dissolved. ‘Ashi, I need a refuge, I need some gossip too, to get my book complete. I am dried’ his aunt and declared.
Very softly his mother had replied,”Go sip on gossip and the coffee talk for me to chug.”
His aunt had looked up with askance, and his mother smiled rather kindly, “its okay, I’ll be in the kitchen giggling like a school girl if you need me.”
When Ashit had to make a career choice, he decided that people spent years and money studying to be doctors, lawyers, actors, dancers, business executives and scientists – when one became an author, you could be any of these things and you didn’t need a degree or certificate all you need is an imagination, a dream and an open mind. That’s when he started the writer’s lair. A quiet haven for writers that over looked the sea, a small garden, his cottage had an extensive library. In addition to the guest card to the public library. He had put in Wi-Fi, and of course connected with publishing houses. Who would rent his place out for their writers?
It brought Ashit his steady income, and the intellectual interaction, it gave him his space and time to write. The writer’s haven came up because his mother and he had thought a writer is a writer not because she wrote well and easily, because she has amazing talent because everything she does is golden. But a writer to them was a writer because even when there is no hope, even nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.
Writing days had to be protected with ruthlessness. the last guest had moved on, and Ashit picked up the pencil, the only epithet he had for it was…
Free from ivory-tower
the pencil twirls
across the footpath”
― Santosh Kalwar