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Soil That Metls
Soil That Metls

© Nanda Kumar


5 Minutes   21.8K    432

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I was sitting in a café in a place unknown. “Are you Mr. Varma?” a husky female voice asked me. I was surprised. It was really surprising to know that at least someone across the world could be still able to recognize me. “Yes,” I nodded, without even turning my head to look at her face. I had no interest in details. “You are a writer, are you not?” she said. “The writer of the book, Water That Floats.” Her words carried a great zeal and they made my lips curve into a smile. The smile was ironic. I turned to look at her. She wore a saffron color saree. She could be in her late-twenties. Her ovoid eye-glasses which perched covering her twinkling eyes reflected a sheer precociousness for her age. When the sun rays moved over to the window, where we had been talking, it made her ivory-color skin glow. “Sir, can I sit with you?” I gestured her to sit. I couldn‟t say no. “Oh my God, I never thought I could meet you, sir. Well, by the way, your debut novel Water That Floats is my all-time favorite, I must tell you. It really influenced me a lot. You know, the subject of the book is quite unique. The story of a prostitute who turns into a writer can move everyone.” I closed my eyes, annoyed. But I tried to disguise my feelings. I lost interest in the conversation. I never wanted to discuss anything about that book. I always hated it. I had written the book thirty years ago. Of course, it did win many accolades. But the books that were published thereafter didn't do well. People, publishers started comparing my every book with Water That Floats. And those books never met their expectations. Eventually every book became a failure. So, after a few years, I stopped writing. And the consequences of quitting my writing career became hard to bear. I began to lose money, fame, publishers, readers and so many things. Therefore I left everything and started wandering across the country. Now, one may not believe, I'm in a position where I haven‟t even had anything to eat since two days. I was running out of money. I was running out of ideas. And I was running out of hope. “Order, sir?” a waiter asked me, interfering. I shook my head. “Order, ma'am?” the waiter asked her. “One small veg-burger, please?” she said and asked me, “Sir, don‟t you order anything?” I shook my head again. She gave a vague smile. “What was your muse? Sir, how did the idea occur to you?” She started talking about the book again. “What you do?” I asked to divert the topic. “I‟m a… Writer, now.” “Now? Inspired by my book?” I spoke in a derogatory sense. “I‟m afraid you weren‟t a prostitute once?” I didn‟t mean to hurt her. It was just because I was frustrated to prolong the conversation. Anyways, after some time, “Sorry,” I said. Surprisingly, she didn‟t take any offense. “Yeah, I was.” The waiter placed the order. “You were what?” “Yeah, I was a prostitute once,” she took a bite from her burger. “And I feel no shame in admitting it. It‟s because of a dialogue in closing lines of your book: Some people sleep with people. Some people sleep with desires. Some people sleep with ideas. And, unfortunately, some people sleep with hunger. So we are all doing prostitution in one way or the other.” I smiled. This time it was genuine. “Well, what do you write about, miss?” “My name is Lolita, Mr. Varma, as in Vladimir Nabokov‟s book. Don‟t feel uneasy. It‟s just a pseudonym. And I too write about things what most of the writers are interested in. Love, loss, sex, transcendental realities, transgressive elements, mystic realism etc. etc.” I nodded. “What are you working on, “now”?” “I‟m working on a novel titled – Soil that Melts.” “Oh, great. What it‟s about?” “It‟s about story of a writer turning into a petty thief.” “Wow? Story of a writer turning into a petty thief? Do you think it will work out? With the kind of plot point you have,” I laughed. “Which writer turns into a petty thief, huh? It is absurd. I guess it will never work out.” “I don‟t know. Let‟s see. By the way, I want you to read the first draft of the book, please?” she said and handed over me a bundle. “Oh, I‟m out of my business cards. Okay, I‟ll write it. Once you finish, Mr. Varma, return it to this address.” She took out a piece of paper and started writing. And it took a while. “Okay, I will,” I said. “Thank you, sir. It‟s a pleasure meeting you.” “Pleasure meeting you, too.” She left. After a while, I looked at the piece of paper. There wasn‟t any address. Instead I found, „Mr. Varma, I mean no offense to you. But I have seen you stealing my purse. I have been keeping it ever since I was little, in memory of my mother. But for the kind of respect I have for you, I couldn’t say it in your face. You can keep the money, if you want. But please return the purse. The address is on the other side. And, I must tell you, you reassured my faith in my plot, “The story of a writer turning into a petty thief.”’

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