If you’ve played ‘Snakes and Ladders’ (and I’m sure you have), there must have been times when the last snake (at 96 or 99) would bite you and you’d fall down all the way to the very beginning from where you had started playing. And then you’d start all over again, and keep playing unless the game ended. Well, life is pretty much the same. Snakes will keep biting you and you will keep falling down. But in the end, you’ll keep climbing until you reach that 100 or the game ends. The worst part of the game is, of course, when you fall from 99 to 1. It makes you want to tear the game-board into fucking halves and burn them. Something like this happened with me today.
As I said in my last post, when you start pursuing a dream, you have to fight almost the entire universe yourself and make your own way. So for the past few days, the ‘social’ part of my universe was messing with my mind. It had already given me two sleepless nights. I was in a very bad mood. Yesterday night, I was coming back from an outdoor shoot for an upcoming music video. In my area, there are these big auto-rickshaws with a luggage boot at the rear end of the vehicle. That’s where I always keep my guitar while travelling. This time, though, I forgot to take it back. I came back, lay down on the bed, thought, fought those thoughts with more thoughts and eventually fell asleep. It was when I woke up in the morning and ran for my guitar that I realized it wasn’t there in my room.
It took me a year to finally start making money from music, and another four months to actually save some of it. This month, I was finally able to save an amount equal to the cost of my guitar. I couldn’t even celebrate this feeling properly before I lost my guitar. I’ve been travelling this way for more than two years now, but this never happened before. And I do realize that all my talk about my state-of-mind won’t make this any less stupid or careless. Ultimately I lost my guitar. It is the instrument of my toil. And all my work – my classes, my recording work, my band rehearsals – have come to a halt. I feel like I’ve been bitten by that 99 snake.
I remember an article by the famous Film-maker Mahesh Bhatt, where he said that the life of an artist is always a struggle. Sometimes, it rings incredibly true. It’s not that the struggle is sad or gloomy in any sense. It’s just that here you’re climbing a fence, where you cannot afford to fall because there is no bed of a monthly paycheck, and you do something this careless.
One day while coming back from my guitar class, a boy stopped me on my way and asked if I go to learn at some music school. I said that I am an independent musician and teacher. Apart from that, all I asked was, “So, do you want to learn guitar?” And he said “Oh no, I was just asking! See you sometime!” and walked away. And such incidents keep happening – all the time. Independent artists scare people away. They feel, “Ye saala kaam mangega!”
A few days ago, people at my corporate class asked me about my graduation, and I told them that I am an engineer from NIT Surat. My answer surprised them all. They asked me why I was teaching guitar when I could find a job so easily, given my educational background. Is what I am doing not a job, though? In our country, when people say ‘auto-wallah’, or ‘rickshaw-wallah’, or ‘doodh-wala’ (I am often referred to as ‘gaane-bajane wallah’ 😛 ), they often don’t mean it with reference to the respective professions. The words are spoken with a sound of disgust and contempt. You make it big and people become fans and share your stories. But for the vast majority, if you’re not a doctor or an engineer or an MBA, people don’t really respect you for your profession.
There is an infinite number of snakes waiting to bite you all the time. Sometimes you’ll fall down and get hurt – badly. But remember that throwing the game-board away is never a solution. You’ll have to start climbing all over again, until you win, or the game ends. I’m gonna start my fight all over again from tomorrow morning to reach that stage when I can save some money again. So what if it takes me a few extra months to reach that milestone again? I know I’ll get there.
Here is the last video shot at my home itself, probably the last visual of my Guitar that remains.