This one goes out to a little girl who sent me the sweetest piece of writing I’ve ever read.
(Ha! Who doesn’t like nice things said about them?)
So, I got this five-page long diabetically sweet handwritten letter by this 17-year old girl who said I was her “favourite journalist” and that she has been reading “my stories for years.” She even listed all her favourite stories, some of them so long ago that I don’t really remember writing some of them.
I really have no words to explain how touched I am reading what she called “fan mail.” So much that I must say that she’s not just being a fan, she’s an air-conditioner to me… She’s that cool. He he!
Like I what I told her in my mail back to her, yesterday I really felt like this guy who’s just suddenly been given the Oscar without any nomination, only that I didn’t have my acceptance speech ready.
I don’t know if I am overreacting because I really haven’t got this sort of a letter ever before.
Actually, I’ve got a handful of postcards which had a few nice words to say about specific stories but then I also have the dubious record of receiving about a 150 mails for a sooper blooper of a story where I had quite foolishly mentioned Shravanabelagola as a Buddhist shrine (:P yeah, Jain shrine as the letters reminded me later). Then, there have been nasty stinkers from organizations, complaining about bad reviews, all of which I really didn’t/don’t really give a damn about. We journos see stinkers all the time and we put them right where they belong, the bin, of course!
But this one is not about stinkers. This one’s about this girl who taught me at least a coupla timely lessons.
In this era, when MBAs walk out of B-schools to command 5 lakh per annum salaries, when BPOs have ensured even people with two years of work experience make double that amount, journalists still get paid what they used to, a decade ago.
Lightmen and Spot boys in the film industry today get paid more than us. That’s no exaggeration. [Aside: Did you know these blokes get paid Rs.450-700 per shift (depending on language) and work double shifts every day?]
In this distressing, depressing situation, when you are really wondering if you really want to continue with the job, a letter like that surely comes as a the blast of fresh air. Hence, the air-conditioner analogy.
And suddenly, the job doesn’t seem that bad at all. It’s okay if they pay me peanuts. It’s okay if people with MBAs and in IT sectors get paid more. It’s okay if your juniors are starting out with better paid jobs … because they are never going to get the kind of satisfaction you get out of yourjob!
Abraham Maslow can go f*** himself, I get more gratification with this kind of response than the money I could earn with an MBA or by burying myself in IT.
People. The one thing I want from life. I’m gonna be super happy if I can win more people than money. Only a rare few like Superstar Rajnikant are able to do that.
This girl studying architecture yesterday said she wants to pass out of college, do journalism at Asian College of Journalism and then join The Hindu and do one story with me!
And I had to
a. Check if it’s a prank by my colleagues
b. Find out: am I dead or what and am I in heaven?
c. Read my stories again and see what’s so good ‘bout them!
I just completely understood the meaning of the word overwhelming. I suddenly feel charged again. Yes, I want to be a filmmaker but I don’t want to give up journalism. The expression of part-disbelief, part-jealousy on the face of a very senior colleague told me everything: Not every journalist gets letters like this.
Not that I’m proclaiming myself as some super journalist. To be honest, I’ve never ever seen myself or ever taken myself too seriously as a journalist. I’ve always believed I’m a filmmaker at heart just using this job as a temporary and steady source of bread and butter.
I can write, yes. But journalist… no… I got a long way to go before I become one. Having said that, it is not my intention or ambition to be one. I want to be a filmmaker. A good one.
But I’m not gonna give up what I’ve built and collected over the years, especially, because these include people. Even if it is just one girl and her family. The letter was also an indication that maybe I have it in me to do this to more people. Now that I’ve seen blood now, I’m gonna try turning into man-eater from just being a paper-tiger. He he!
Thank you, my air-conditioner, for helping me keep my cool. For changing the very air I’ve been breathing and to help me make up mind about a thing or two.
I want to retain my place among people because I’m loving it. I don’t want to be greedy and say I want more out of this job but I want to retain this base. I want to keep this thing going and still make my movie, which, is only going to be another way to reach people. Even if it means not being paid for this job.
There surely must be a way out to do both – to pursue journalism and films, fact and fiction, reality and dreams.
Or at least, I hope.