She didn't like it when people called it a case of writer's block. It gave one the impression that writers weren't humans-only some pre-programmed story-telling machines who never ran out of inspiration.
Atleast that's the way she felt.
But it didn't matter. Whatever one called it she was dry of ideas at the moment.
In her mind's eye she was desperately trying to conjure up an image-but everything appeared vague at the moment. She could only make out the silhouette of girl-a girl with long dark hair and startlingly brown almond-shaped eyes. But she couldn't tell whether she was happy or sad-'cause her face was shrouded in a thick layer of mist.
'That's good...now show me your face...c'mon now.' she said to herself.
At this point her pressure-cooker let off steam with a tremendous hissing noise and the girl's image vanished in a puff of smoke.
With a sigh she opened her eyes again and made a dash for the kitchen.
15 minutes later she was back to her bedroom-looking disheveled, troubled and in a worse mood than before.
Not only had she burnt the rice yet again but on tasting the curry she found it too hot.
Now very few people knew this but Sharanya Singh Rathore, the famed romance novelist, was also an accomplished cook. She seldom messed up in the kitchen.
At least that was the case up until now.
She was an acclaimed fiction-writer who had risen to fame with her debut novel. An author of three published novels, two of her works made the best-seller list for 6 months each.Critics hailed her as the 'uncrowned queen of Indian romance'-the only romance novelist to command a decent male readership.
Her books were selling across the nation at all major book-outlets. She was reaching out to thousands of enthusiastic readers, making them laugh and cry along with her characters, restoring their faith in happy endings.....every single moment.
Now she was a public figure.
Now had changed so drastically from then...
The 'then' in which Sharanya Singh Rathore was little else aside from just another home-maker. The 'then' in which Sharanya was more than satisfied with the sole identity of being Rajiv Rathore's beautiful wife and Aditya Rathore's doting mother. The 'then' in which she considered herself to be the luckiest woman on earth for being blessed with such a perfect family.
But 'then' was a thing of the past now.
Because Sharanya Singh Rathore was only Sharanya Singh now. She had dropped the Rathore from her name ever since her divorce 6 months ago.
The Rajiv Rathore whom she had loved with all her heart was involved in a custody battle with her over their 10 year-old son.
No he never cheated.
But he never approved of his wife's new-found fame. Sharanya's growing popularity drove a wedge between the two...so slowly that even she didn't recognize it until it was too late.
It seemed all those years she had stayed faithfully by his side during his slow climb up the corporate ladder were forgotten in a matter of months.
His job. His family. Life was always about him.
Success could only be his. Not hers.
The plush 4-roomed apartment seemed to have grown so much smaller ever since she started living alone. At times she had the nagging suspicion that the walls were closing in on her with each passing day. At other times she debated whether or not it was time to visit a counselor.
But stubborn and headstrong as she was Sharanya hated to cave in under pressure.
Although she had considered returning the advance payment to her publisher a few times she didn't have the heart to actually make that decision-somehow that would mean losing.
And for the time being she had lost quite about enough.
The tick-ticking clock on the wall informed her it was 4:30 p.m in the afternoon....only 4:30. She shuddered to think of how slowly time would pass that evening.
The warm afternoon sunlight was pouring into her room from the north-western windows bathing her in its glow. Sharanya closed her eyes in contentment and realized what exactly she needed at the moment.
This was the only place where she could absorb some more of that pristine sunshine.
She slowed her walk to take in her surroundings...a few familiar faces, a few new ones, yellowing grass carpeting the ground, Mr Malhotra sitting alone on his designated bench, the balloon-seller at the gate....everything was the same. Even the dead deodar tree at the far south-eastern corner.
Unconsciously she started walking in that direction.
The last thunderstorm of the season had proven to be fatal for the tree which was now standing in a sort of a bent position....remnants of the broken branches were strewn at its foot and the roots were losing their grip on the soil.
The yellowing and brown leaves at the tips of the branches confirmed Sharanya's worst fears.
'It isn't dead yet.' a voice spoke from behind.
She turned around to look at a bespectacled, wrinkled old man with a clutching stick in his hand.
It was Mr Malhotra.
'How do you know?'
'You see those upper branches...' he pointed in the direction- 'look closely...can't you see something there aside from the dried leaves?'
Sharanya followed his gaze and squinted in the sunlight.
Her eyes widened...'cause sure enough she could see tiny green leaflets sprouting from the tip of a branch.
He was right.
'I think your eyesight is better than mine Uncleji.....' Sharanya said finally.
'Hmm........I was once a colonel you know.' he smiled good-naturedly.
'But eyesight has nothing to do with it....' he added- 'I could see because I was looking for it.
You didn't see because you believed the tree was dead.'
Sharanya blinked. The man had a knack for hitting the bull's eye.
'Ah it's almost sundown.....I better get going now...so why haven't you been around lately?' he asked.
'Well I am working on a new novel...that keeps me indoors most of the times.' Sharanya replied truthfully.
'Write away my young lady...write happy stories....and remember to send me the first copy.' he said and broke into a raucous peal of laughter.
Sharanya smiled gently and watched the old man as he walked away. Without turning around he raised his hand upwards in a gesture of biding goodbye.
He was the same man who came to this park every day with his wife of 35 years until the day she was no more.
But he didn't stop coming. And he still laughed. And he still wanted to read Sharanya's book.
Suddenly her lips parted as her face broke into the widest smile in months.
How foolish had she been to assume that her story was over?
Sharanya broke into a steady jog down the path towards the exit.
The story of life was ever-changing, ever-evolving. It simply never ended.
As long as she was alive and breathing.....as long as she could feel the heat of the sun on her back....as long as she could see Adi's smile.....she knew she had a purpose.
She had a hundred more stories to write, a thousand more smiles to spread, a million more lives to touch.
She didn't need to worry about her ending anymore.
For her story was only just beginning.
Special thanks to Nightwing of Mavericks for his valuable suggestions.