Whenever a celebrity passes away, new fans emerge from nowhere in the cyber sphere, crying a river of status posts and wailing on the ‘vacuum’ they left behind. Agreed, celebrities touch our lives in many ways, so one is bound feel sad, but one can’t go on doing that for every other celebrity. After all, they aren’t going to read the post anyway, unless they have a wifi up there. Having said that, I would like to share an important lesson I learned from the veteran actor, Om Puri.
Almost a decade ago, I had won a national level essay writing contest held by The Indian Express Group and a Mumbai-based NGO. The essay was published in an anthology and I was invited to a function held at Metro Cinema, Mumbai.
Not much used to sitting at the front row in a function, I was constantly looking at the last rows that I was accustomed to. To my utter surprise, I found Om Puri seated right next to me. He smiled courteously and there was an awkward silence between us, as I was too tongue-tied to break the ice.
I noticed his wife (ex-wife now) and son walked in and I got up to let them sit next to him. He stopped me and spoke in his deep baritone, “Koi jarrrurrat nahi hai…” The impact of his voice was such that I didn’t dare to insist and meekly sat next to him. The host handed over the essay anthology to him and he started reading.
The moment he finished reading my ‘prize-winning’ essay, I broke into a cold sweat in the air-conditioned hall and mustered up the courage to tell him that I was the one who wrote it. He raised his eyebrows and shook my hands, saying, “Bahut badhiya likhte ho. Aapne Qur’an padhi hai?”
I almost stammered and said, “Je je Qur’an, Bible, Bhagwad Gita…sab padhi hai…”He seemed impressed and said, “At such young age? Tumhara research aur mehnat dikhaayi deti hai isey padhne se…waise karte kya ho?” I replied, “Sir, I am a copywriter and a small-time writer…aspiring to become author someday…”
He smiled and said, “Bete, ek baat samajh lo, writer kabhi small-time nahi hota, writer hamesha writer hi hota hai. Aur jitna acha tum likhte ho, I am sure tum ek din tum kaafi naam kamaaoge, lekin us waqt agar koi tumhe pooche ke tum kaun ho, to yeh mat kehna ke tum big-time writer ho. Writer hamesha writer hota hai, na chota-mota writer, na bada writer.”
His words are still etched in my memory and shall always remain so. I hope this incident inspires others too.
May his soul rest in peace.