Written on 15 May, 2017.
“He was online. She was online.
But no one messaged first. Because sadly, their egos were online too.”
“What bullshit?” I muttered.
I let my eyes skim over the words of India’s best-selling novelist once again and scrunched up my face when they remained the same. I could not believe how this kind of writing could take someone to pinnacles of success.
I put down the book in my hand and switched on my laptop. Trying to decipher where I went wrong, I opened up my story. Sixty thousand words of my last draft graced the screen and I went through the first couple chapters.
Seven months back, getting my novel published was my biggest aim. Today, I’d managed to sell a couple thousand copies and could say I was pretty well known. Yet, I wondered why I did not get more popular. My story, according to the publisher, was a unique one with a brilliant writing style.
I wondered if people didn’t want to read general fiction as a whole or if they did not want to read my work. Maybe I wasn’t as good a writer as I thought.
I sighed at the thought and I decided to check my social media. After surfing for a while and taking random BuzzFeed tests, I decided to do something productive. As a regular reviewer of popular books, I decided to write a short review about my recent read on Twitter. As usual, a couple notifications caught my eye, but I decided to reply to them later.
Clicking a good picture of Mukesh Dev’s recent book, Irony in Connectivity, I put my thoughts into words. Making sure I made sense, I hit tweet and retired for the night.
A weak sound woke me up the next morning, and I turned to switch off the alarm. Like every other person of the twenty-first century, the first thing I did was checking my phone.
The overly blown-up twitter notifications seemed ominous to me. Never had I ever had over three hundred notifications over a night. Wondering what mad my followers so active over a night, I checked my account immediately. Mentions and retweets came into my view and I was taken aback by what I read.
“Like you are any good.”
“Just because you have one good novel does not mean you can demean anyone.”
“You are so fake, can’t believe I ever liked you.”
“f*** off, bit*h. no one likes you…”
“stop this hate!”
A lump formed itself in my throat and I could not help but feel my stomach drop. My world tilted on a different axis. I could not believe what I was seeing. How could my followers, my fans be so cruel?
I took a deep breath in and scrolled further. The lower I went, the harsher the words became. Biting my lip, I read my tweet and my honest words stared back at me:
Extremely disappointed. Cliché plot and an okay writing style. Did not enjoy it. Would give it 4/10.
I read it one, twice, thrice, and still failed to see where I was spreading negativity. Was it not okay for me to simply put my views forth? Was it really necessary for absolutely everyone to hate on me for an honest opinion?
I drank some water from my bedside and switched off my phone. I dug my fingers into my hair and pressed hard to stop the throbbing. In a fraction of a second, I decided that I needed some air and time to think before the media could blow this matter even further. This kind of hate would definitely lead to a bad public image.
Wrapping my arms around myself, I walked towards the garden outside my home. Even in the luxury of fresh air, people’s words came back to me and I fought hard against the tears in my eyes. I wondered where, as people of India, we had all gone wrong. Was it not okay for a reader to express their displeasure? Did no one have the freedom of expression anymore?
I sat on the layer of grass and wondered what it would be like in a place where no one would be called out for expressing an opinion. It was one thing to have conflicting opinions, but this was hell. I thought up of a world where my words would have been accepted in a more civil manner and snorted at that thought.
People of this nation were not ready to accept differences so easily. Be it in religion, or caste, or gender even; it would take time for us to appreciate our differences and accept each other as we were.
I stared across the street and had a sudden epiphany. In that moment I knew what the theme of my next novel would be. It would be about the India that I aspired to live in. The kind of India where we accepted differences easily and appreciated them even more easily.
Releasing a deep breath I finally smiled after the long hours of this morning. At least something good came out of all this hassle.
Presenting to you a story I wrote for the Aspiring India contest on Sweek! Thank you very much for reading this! Do let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
For my longer works, please visit Wattpad. My username there is “s_huddar”.
Hope you have a good day!