[Editor’s Note: A friend sent our correspondent a letter in which she described herself as desperately depressed about her failure as a writer because no one was buying her books. She also lamented being squeezed for time because she would be in Morocco and then Europe for six weeks prior to an important deadline. Our reporter, known affectionately as “The Hovering Hindu,” replied from his aerie in Kathmandu in hopes of cheering her up.]Now as for being failed and depressed and all that lovely “negative energy,” as Californians or Western Buddhists would say, or once when I think Existentialism was sort of still in vogue, including our college days (was it really 1975 onwards…omigod! bell-bottoms, frizzy hair, disco, flared collars, polyester suits, fog machines and who knows what other synthetic, syncretic nonsense…), the operating word was “angst,” and a Ghanian friend of mine, his favorite word about our life then was THE NADIR, which he drew out in a terrific African accent, laughing maniacally (white folks might say menacingly) “Brother Khadka, I’m in the NAAAADEEEEER, my man…”
My friend, the main purpose in life is to be HAPPY. I realize of course that you want to be a writer read, if not loved and admired by your readers, if not the vast majority of the English (Italian??) reading public, and this is what will make you happy, but, and this is, alas, the BIG BUT, well, as the Indians say solemnly, wagging their heads,
“Man proposes, God disposes…”
Examine your life carefully: you have a family that you love, you have a job that you are passionate about, you get to travel to exotic places like Ethiopia, Sicily, and live in remote islands off its coast (now there’s a book for you “The Sicilian Sun” – would flatten all those ridiculous nouveaux riche (“yuppie” for us unlettered in French) crap written by faux Frenchies and Italians) once in a while, and you haven’t even told me why you will be in Morocco and Europe; you’re in good health as far as I know; you’ve disposable income, after you’ve disposed of your kids’ diapers and other such family necessities; I believe you have a car, TV, VCR, lovely warm home, etc., etc., etc. ALL OF THESE WHICH I HOPE MAKE YOU HAPPY, and the main purpose in life, despite what your Italian Catholic padres and nuns might have told you, is really to be HAPPY, not wallow in grief, suffering angst, nadir, and take up the cross of our dearly beloved Jesus Cristos and suffer with him, for him because he suffered for us, this sinning, ungrateful humanity (I think I’m digressing, aren’t I?).
All this meandering monologue is to really tell you that every time I feel – rather, used to feel – that I was not going to be a writer and all, I just realized that well, so be it. Besides, I recognized that my most sterling characteristic, temperament, was extreme laziness, if not infinite inertia. Besides, I found myself more and more impatient with the whole process of writing – not to mention editing. I of course realize that you are not me, do not feel like me, and, unlike me, have worked very, very hard – and continue to do so – to become a writer, so to tell you to “DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY” probably jars every bone in your body; you’re gritting your teeth and swearing that, God! I’m gonna kill, no PULVERIZE, that SOB Raj (you don’t have any “friends” in the Sicilian Mafia, do you? I do promise OMERTA)…So, where was I? Yes, somewhere in the orbit of cosmic surrender, but you’re going ballistic the other way, which means we’re the opposite faces of the same coin, thus let’s flip the coin and see what happens. BUT MEANWHILE, YOU MUST REMEMBER, OUR ATTEMPTS TO DO GOOD, TO BECOME BETTER AT WHAT WE DO, TO EVOLVE AS A PERSON…ALL THESE ATTEMPTS, STRUGGLES AND EFFORTS SHOULD MAKE US HAPPY, NOT DEFEATED.
We must ACT, but its results, well, if we can’t control the outcome, there is no need to feel a failure. Look at me. I seldom ever write, but friends introduce me as a writer, and I BOLDLY, BALDLY, BLANDLY, smile, shake hands vigorously and say, “Lovely to meet you. And what do you do?” But they want to know what I’m writing. And I say with absolute truth, “Nothing.” And they smile slyly, knowingly, and say, “Oh, I see, you don’t want to talk about it. Writer’s superstition….” I agree! When in doubt, surrender!
Anyway, friend, you must forgive me for being absolutely no help during these trying times. This is why I did not become a therapist, even though I should’ve been one, having lived in San Francisco, where even therapists had their own personal therapist, where one felt incomplete when one didn’t have one, and felt lowest of the low because one couldn’t afford a “hand-crafted” sandwich with a latte, and had to settle for one “to-go,” wrapped in clear plastic, put together probably at 4 a.m. by some illegal alien from Mexico, if not Morocco, while he sipped black liquid mud in a styrofoam cup.
Write to me, even if it is to tell me that your cousin Vinny (or is it Frederico) who knows someone who knows someone in “La Familia” will be knocking on my door in the heat of the mid-summer day, when there is nothing out there in the baking earth, except vultures circling the empty sun-scorched sky, and this image, as I write, curiously reminds me of that poem by W.B.Yeats, “The 2nd Coming” about how “things fall apart, the center cannot hold; the best lack conviction…” etc., etc., perhaps a lousy way to end this egregious epistle, so perhaps I should paraphrase that Biblical command about having children, only in your case, I’m thinking of books, thus I command: Go forth and multiply! Or better yet, venture forth from Inferno to Paradisio…. Ciao, bella (what does this mean, anyway? “Bye, beautiful” ??)
Finally, to put this all in proper context, I wrote this at 6 a.m., when normally, I’m in peaceful slumber, today, I woke up early; there had been a terrific downpour at night, the pre-monsoon rains, and I’m off to work as an “editor” at a hospital for poor children who are physically disabled, my once-a-week gig. So, of course, I’m demented and will not be held responsible for my actions, written or otherwise.
— Recklessly, Raj, of course
About Rajendra S. Khadka:
Rajendra S. Khadka was born in Nepal, educated by the Jesuits in Kathmandu and Yankees in New England. His desultory career pursuits have included freelance journalism, managing a movie theater during the pre-VCR days, and a chef-on-call. For several years he was a writer, editor, and researcher at Travelers’ Tales, and back then when he was not sleeping, he could be found cooking, reading, or practicing zazen by doing nothing in the People’s Republic of Berkeley. After 25 years in the USA he returned to his homeland of Nepal, and now lives in a penthouse above a pack of howling curs in Kathmandu.
Return to Flying Carpet index page.