This is for anyone who has ever been called pretentious.
You, yes, you, who cringed right now, your fingers tightening a little around your tea-glass.
This is for you, who couldn’t go to sleep because you’ve played an old jazz track by Dinah Washington over and over, fifty times, and for the fifty-first time, when the chorus wrapped its honey scarf around your neck like a faraway summer, you wanted to translate your silent outburst into a Facebook update –
Because, come on, although you may be getting too old, you’re still twenty years old –
This is for you.
This is for every time you talked of an obscure French film, and had two friends out of five call you an intellectual, only to go back home and tell each other that everything about you, from your unkempt hair to your leather boots, are as fake as your metaphors.
This is for every time you made a metaphor, and had it tossed aside as elite poetry,
because no one ventures beyond the icing to your cake –
This is for you. You, who couldn’t get through that Facebook update because you knew it wouldn’t get much attention.
Yes, you, feeling lonely behind your copy of Shakti Chattopadhyay’s poetry, thinking your relevance died in a cobwebbed porch in the dark trenches of Calcutta.
There is a remedy – a rather difficult one, at that.
You are to finish that novel. Listen to that jazz record for the fifty-first time. Take that photograph of a laughing old man in black and white because he reminds you of an autumn evening you never had. Write that sonnet in Petrarchan meter just because you want to.
Four out of five of your friends would tell eight out of ten of your friends that you’re a twenty-year-old Indian kid pretending t
o be a fifty-year-old Romanian prophet, and that they’re better off as atheists to your strange religion.
This is for you. You, who needs to hold on, because there is that one friend who knocks your blank verse into rhyme, and your rhyme into a sonnet, and your sonnets into literature that will make you fall back in love with yourself.
You, who will never do the things you do for appreciation – yes, you.
You need to know that it’s okay to admit that you need a knowing glance sometimes.
You need to hold on, not for an audience, but for those few kindred spirits.
This is for anyone who has ever been made to believe that “pretentious” is an insult, for the ones who have been hurt enough to rethink themselves.
I have no dramatic closing statement. If I did, I wouldn’t be sad half of the week. I wouldn’t be practising my accent on my Software Engineering notes. I wouldn’t be disproportionately eloquent on my personal blog.
But, I believe in the remedy. You, yes, you, who I hope is smiling right now or is calling me pretentious but with only half a heart, should too.