Virtual reality

I long for a small room filled with my favourite books.

‘A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction,’ wrote Virginia Woolf in her long essay published in 1929.

I humbly add ‘and time to write’ to the famous statement.  Having taken a sabbatical from teaching electronics to already well informed geniuses, I hoped to write. Supposed to be now ‘free’, I am baffled to find myself with only small snippets of leisure.

 I am cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring amidst errands to the bank, post office and grocers (answering the door and mending holey socks not to be forgotten). With a tidy sum put away (thanks to the teaching job), taking care of Madam Woolf’s first requirement, I reschedule my day with ruthless determination and spend the precious hours to putting my thoughts to paper. But my idyllic world is incomplete without a room of my own.

When I began my career as a young guest lecturer I often faced the embarrassment of borrowing a desk and cupboard from other colleagues at the college. I lugged my bag and books away from labs and classrooms hunting for a quiet spot to read and make notes before my lecture. My predicament at home is somewhat similar. Writing in the living room or dining room is discouraged by the presence of the blaring TV. Using the study table in the kids’ bedroom when they are at school is a lot of work.

Under the watchful eyes of teen idols staring at me from posters and school schedules unnerving me, I spend more time tidying the room than getting any writing done. It’s borrowed space after all. The terrace and tiny balcony are ruled out since we live adjacent a busy street where screeching tyres and honking vehicles keep the decibel level a constant high from dawn to dusk.

I long for a small room filled with my favourite books; with me writing at a small table gazing out of an open window into a quiet leafy garden. In the pipeline are talks of some landing space being cleared for me on the second floor. But I’m not sure if the creative juices will flow with the loud washing machine for company.

My young friend and her husband were struggling in their careers barely making ends meet. I remember her telling me how they would sit on their small terrace in the blistering summer heat in Jaipur and imagine they were in a hill station. They would point out imaginary hills and streams to one another and exclaim over the beauty of birds and flowers growing around them.

I am writing now in a cool green forest with my feet in a clear stream. In the warm sunshine I have birds and squirrels keeping me company. The breeze is soft and scented by wildflowers. Temple bells sound from afar and the words flow effortlessly in this magical space of my own-unfettered by the duties and realities of being a mother and wife. I too have a room of my own – virtually at least!

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