The Lost Muse
The Lost Muse
Namit sipped his cup of tea impatiently, while being seated on a stool given by the tea seller. His thoughts raced to the last few days he had spent in Kolhapur and every desperate attempt he had made to try and convince his inspiration and favorite writer to give him a chance. A struggling director in the Marathi film industry, it was Kishor Jadhav’s Marathi novels and short stories that had moved him and shaped his personality; while encouraging him at the same time that he, too, could be a storyteller one day. His parents had been Mr. Jadhav’s fans too and in fact, the prime reason of how he came across his exceptional work.
Namit knew he was crossing a line by invading someone’s privacy but he had no other choice. He had tried his bit by going through the normal route and had failed miserably. Mr. Jadhav had insulted him a couple of times and had shown him the door whenever he went to his house for a visit. And today, he waited for him to leave his house for his daily morning walk to convince him for the very last time. If he failed today, he had no idea what he would do after his return back to Mumbai.
The moment Kishor Jadhav left from his small home, Namit sprang up in action. He had been waiting for half an hour from a distance and purposely walked slowly till he could reach Mr. Jadhav. He had to make sure that he didn’t create a scene or a commotion. Before Namit could make a move, Mr. Jadhav turned back and faced him. While Namit’s face grew white, his looked grim and serious. Surprisingly, there was no anger to be seen unlike the last couple of times they had met.
“What are you trying to do, my boy? Do you want to go to jail for stalking me? Surely this isn’t what you must have desired when you wanted to become famous? You’d rather be a failure than being a criminal.”
Namit hung his head in shame, his voice low. “ I am sorry, Sir. I didn’t mean to disturb you like this. But you left me with no choice.”
“I left you with no choice. I left you with no choice.” Mr. Jadhav paused for a minute as he scanned Namit’s face. “The audacity you have to speak to me in such a fashion. I asked you to respect my privacy and leave me alone. It is my decision whether I want to sell my story to you or not. You can’t force me to do anything against my will.”
“I am sorry, Sir. I am sorry for all the trouble I have caused you. I promise you won’t see my face again.” Namit marched his feet without looking up only to be interrupted a few seconds later.
“Wait a minute. Namit Joshi. That’s your name, right.” Mr. Jadhav came towards him. “ I asked my grandniece to do a bit of research on you. Your last five films were huge flops. I saw three of them. The content was good. The screenplay could have been better. You have potential. Don’t waste your time running after someone else’s story. Don’t try to take a shortcut. Make your own. One day, people will appreciate your talent.”
“Alipta has changed my life for the better, Sir. I want to tell your story to the world.”
“I don’t need you to tell my story to the world. I have done it 15 years back. I have had a limited audience who has read and appreciated my work. What more does a writer want?”
Namit let out a huge sigh. “Sir, I want you to assist me in writing the screenplay. I don’t wish to take away your story without giving you the due credit for it. That would make me a cheater. I want to work with you and learn from you.”
Kishor Jadhav let out a sly smile as he raised his eyebrows. His wicked smile was proof for Namit that the convincing part was far from over.
“Do you think you’re the first person who has come to me begging for the rights of my books? I don’t wish to name anyone, but a person from your fraternity came to me, took all my help, threw some money on my face, and refused to give me the credit for the work that I did. I was promised a lot of things but I ended up with mere nothing. It’s not about the money. Do you even realize how it feels when someone else takes away all the credit and praise for your story? All those hours of hard work and patience that I put in turned out to be useless. The film was a huge success but my name was nowhere in the credits. This happened 20 years ago. What makes you any different than the rest of them?”
“I am sorry you had to go through such an experience, Sir. But you should have been more careful. There are vultures all around who are ready to snatch all good things that come their way.”
“You’re right. I made a mistake. I was a fool to not figure out a person’s true intentions. But I’m not making the same mistake again. It was nice meeting you, Mr. Joshi.”
Namit could sense the anger and disappointment in Mr. Jadhav’s voice as he swiftly walked past him. More so, the man was disappointed with himself. Just like him.
Namit quickly ran up to him, not willing to let go. “Don’t you think you deserve another chance? I don’t know what happened to you but you haven’t written anything since the last 10 years. Did the death of your wife and daughter affect you so much that you gave up on writing completely? You aren’t anywhere on social media but I have done my fair share of research on you. I understand the difficult position you must have been in. But that’s not the way to give up on your talent.”
Kishor Jadhav raised his hand in the air, immediately putting it down. He took a deep breath as he tried to control his temper.
“You are nobody to decide what I do with my life. Now, you are crossing the line.”
“I know I am nobody to decide for you. Only you can decide for yourself.” Namit suddenly spoke with unfound confidence like never before. “ But I believe you still have it in you to change the world with your thoughts and words. Just like I still have it in me. Think of it as an ode to you from me. A way of saying thanks for bringing me all the way up here. If my parents had never made me read your books, it would have never inspired me to become a director. If my films had worked well, I would have never taken the pain of trying to meet you. Don’t you think that it’s destiny that has brought us together?”
Kishor Jadhav smiled as he looked into his eyes. “You do have a way with words, my boy. But my life is as good as over. I’m 65 right now. I am suffering from a condition which will allow me to live for maximum 2 years provided I get the medical treatment on time. I have already surrendered in my battle against life. Just like you said, I haven’t written a word in the last 10 years. I always considered the women in my life to be my muse. My mother, my wife and my daughter. I lost all of them in a car accident while I was the one sitting on the driver’s seat. When they went from this world, they took away everything that my heart desired. Even if I try, I won’t be of any use to you. It’s best you try and do something on your own.”
“I am sorry for your loss and your condition, Sir. I will try my best to help you in whatever way possible; financially as well as non-financially. But don’t you want to see your name in bold letters on the big screen at least once before you die? Don’t you wish to receive all the accolades and praises that were snatched away from you; the ones you deserved all these years? Don’t you want to give yourself another chance?
Kishor Jadhav smiled sarcastically. He was amused at Namit’s words and strange enthusiasm. “How old do you think I am? Twelve? I never wished to be in the spotlight. I am a man of a few needs.”
“Sir, what I meant to say was……….”
“Wait. I haven’t completed my sentence.” Mr. Jadhav interrupted Namit with a stern expression on his face. Surprisingly, his eyes didn’t match his face. They seemed to be smiling. “ I will receive all the accolades and praises only if your so called film turns out to be a hit. Going by your track record, I doubt that will happen.”
“That means you will assist me. Won’t you?” Namit shrieked like a baby.
“Quiet, my boy! Don’t get too excited. I haven’t written for 10 years. I am poor when it comes to writing a screenplay and so are you. It isn’t going to be easy working with me. I am a stubborn person. It is difficult to convince me to make any changes in my story. But I am willing to give it a shot. Only because you believe in me and you have been persistent enough to not let go of me easily. And I have nothing better to do anyways.”
Namit hugged Kishor Jadhav as tightly as he could. “You have no idea how happy I am today that you finally agreed to help me. Alipta will be exactly the way you want it to be, except for a few cinematic liberties that we might have to take. It is, and always will be your story with your name written on it.”
“I hope you stay true to your promise, Namit. I am too old now to fight back.” Namit finally released him from his hug.
“I promise. I will, Sir. My parents are going to be thrilled when they meet you in person. If you don’t mind me asking, what made you change your mind now? I have been troubling you since the last two weeks and you didn’t budge even once. Why now? I had almost given up all hope.”
“I think I already told you why I agreed. Do you want me to back out now? I have no issues……”
“No, Sir. Please. No. I am sorry to have asked you again. I won’t…..”
Mr. Jadhav smiled wickedly. “It’s alright. I was just messing with you. You and I both know that we have nothing to lose, considering the situations we are in. What’s the worse that could happen?”
“Another film of mine will be a super flop. I’ve become used to it now.” Namit quickly chipped in.
“I could go back into the shell that I am in. It will be worse if I let go of this opportunity without giving it a try. It’s the ‘What ifs’ that hurt you the most. Not taking the right decision at the right time. I suppose there is no age to learn. Even if I die after 2 years, I’ll at least die a happy person.”
“And I’ll die a happy person knowing that I encouraged my inspiration to write again.”
Kishor Jadhav hugged Namit as he tried to control the tears in his eyes. “Indeed, you have made me realize that I still have it in me. From today onwards, you shall be my muse. Tell me. When do we start?”
“Right now, Sir. Right now.”
The two men quickly took a turn towards Mr. Jadhav’s humble abode.