Amit walked across the vast campus courtyard. Not much had changed. The kids still laughed, screamed and walked across the main road in groups. They were sitting on the bench, bang opposite the Arts college entrance, discussing Sunny Leone’s tits against Deepika’s legs. He smiled. Nothing had changed.
‘So? Who is she?’ Mrs Joshi asked him one day, while a casual examination of his latest poem.
‘What?’ He blubbered. He really did not know what she was talking about. Many people did not. She had a habit of going on a tangent, crossing the equator, cooking some elephant gob, before returning to the topic. He sometimes wondered how her family could withstand her.
‘Your muse? The one who keeps propping up in your poems? Do I know her, by any chance? She does look familiar’ she clarified.
‘Err… No. I don’t think you know her ma’am.’ He wanted to close up the topic. This was uncomfortable.
‘Don’t worry. The poems are getting better with her. A word of advice, tell her, before somebody else does. College is a very competitive atmosphere for love.’ She handed the notebook back to him and smiled.
He had walked out the door with a weird expression on his face. He did tell his ‘muse’. It took him a couple of weeks. She had laughed to his face. The next couple of weeks were filled with poems, which today, look like a bad copy of Metallica and angry punk songs.
‘Have you ever written Ma’am.’, he had asked once. The third year Literature class was a lonely place. It had two idiots, and a cabin, that looked like the Old Widow’s shoe cabinet. It was embarrassing.
‘Yes. I have.’ Mrs Joshi answered, without looking up from the copy of Whitman. ‘And I have been rejected by publishers a million times’ she had continued. The voice was clear, but it had a slight edge to it.
Amit prodded further. It was a doubt that was prescient in his mind too. ‘Then why do you continue? I mean… I am not sure if I can be published or make money through writing either. Wouldn’t it be easier to choose some other career and go on?’
‘Yes. It would be easier. But should you do that?’ She asked.
For the next decade, the voice screamed from within Amit’s soul. It continued to scream when he could not think of words. It screamed when he felt like taking days off from writing. He could always hear her voice, bespectacled, and shattering the null void of the world. She haunted him into writing. And he remained ever grateful for that.
Sitting down with a cup of tea, he remembered the day of his graduation. He had walked in to see Mrs Joshi talking to Ahmed about choosing a career in a teaching. Amit wondered if she would be recruiting future professors for the department. He wondered if he was in the list.
Her advice to him was simple. ‘Do you have something in mind?’ she asked. He shook his confused head. He immediately regretted it. He did not want to stand and hear to another one of her long and droning lectures. Not when, he had just ensured that he wouldn’t have to listen to it anymore.
She smiled. ‘No, I am not going to lecture you. I never waste my advice where it is not wanted. When the day comes that you need it, do let me know.’ She walked away.
That was the last he had seen of Mrs Joshi. Life, with its vicious henchmen, responsibility and economy had seen to it. Amit had found time to continue with his academics though. Not that he had a choice. Education was his only solace from the world. Books offered him a comfort. Dickens, Dostoevsky, Lamb and Browning. Tortured souls, trapped in the vicious circle of life. There was a certain familiarity of being in the company of these friends.
He had forgotten all about college. And Mrs Joshi. Till today. Today, when Mr Shah walked in bumbling, with his trademark white kurta, and scratched the surface paint off his wall of memories.