Mission Delhi – Priyanka Chauhan, Golf Course Road
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
She has been writing since she was a student attending Raghunath Girls College in Meerut town.
“But I don’t consider myself a writer,” says Priyanka Chauhan. She’s chatting this morning on WhatsApp video from the isolation of her seventh-floor apartment in Gurgaon’s Golf Course Road in the Greater Delhi Region. “You need great depth to be a true writer.”
Perhaps the lady doesn’t think of herself as one because instead of penning stories or novels she would maintain an intimate journal—jotting down every thought and feeling of hope and despair flashing through her mind at any moment.
Though she soon stopped that too, eventually occupying herself in the daily demands of life. And now, at 35, she lives with her husband and daughter, and since some time has been trying to dig her own space in the world of writing “in my own little way.”
Like many of those people haunted by secretive aspirations, Ms Chauhan is quietly, discreetly constructing a path for herself that might lead her to something close to what she wants. “It’s not that I’m desperate to be a writer… I’m not even thinking of publishing a book, but…” She explains that she finds a certain satisfaction, verging on happiness, on reading books written by good writers. “Now I too want to write something substantial of my own, that can bring that same sort of satisfaction to others.”
Well, she cannot afford be a Van Gogh and live alone in a small room for art’s sake. Neither Ms Chauhan has thoughts of giving up her present life for a course in creative writing in some fancy university.
Instead, she has marked one hour every morning and every evening when she keeps the distracting mobile far from her person and settles down to immerse herself into a book or a note pad (these days she is reading Manav Kaul’s travelogue Bahut Door Kitni Door Hota Hain). The notepad, she pointedly mentions, is not the kind of private journal she used to maintain in early life. It is more like a commonplace book in which she scribble down whatever heart-touching lines she comes along during the course of reading books. “And sometimes I write my ideas and thoughts, too.”
The lady also has a blog of her own in which she writes small film reviews.
“I’m not able to write long pieces, however.. I find it hard to expand my thoughts.” And in a most moving moment of disarming frankness, she declares “I’m not good in story telling yet.”
But Ms Chauhan isn’t deterred. She will read more books and attempt more writing, she says. And this itself seems promising to her—this long journey to become a writer who writes sincerely, from the heart. Indeed, this week, Ms Chauhan wrote a brief kavita, a poem, “in which I tried to find what I feel when I think of nothing but myself.” Her husband, Mohit, translated the untitled poem from Hindi to English.
I close my eyes
And I peek-deep into the recesses of my soul,
Where all I hear is a deep bout of silence.
Where there is no noise,
And my guileless soul is, also guiltless.
In the rat-race of this world,
Everybody ran, so did my soul.
And the fear of losing, made me lose so many.
But then, when I closed my eyes & pondered,
There was no distant sign of any remorse.
So, now, I have found my peace with this silence.
And my state of staying true to being just.
[This is the 333rd portrait of Mission Delhi project]
A writer, wanting to be a writer