Yesterday, I was undone by the death of an actor, of all things.
As a child and then a teen and youth, I’d considered myself above fangirling. I liked the product (mostly books) and that was that. No interest in the person behind the art.
Ridiculous then, to be caught in the stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, acceptance, all in the space of one evening. Irfan Khan died this Wednesday, and it seemed like a grave personal insult from the Universe straight to me. The actor from Life of Pi and Slum Dog Millionaire, from Lunchbox and Life in a Metro was gone just like that, and suddenly there’s no way we will see those eyes again in all their poetry and power. That man fit in more layered nuance in a glance or a vocal projection than many actors achieved with pages of dialogue.
He’s not the first great actor to die, but he was young, just 53, a powerhouse of talent. The loss might have felt personal because he embodied a kind of Asian masculinity that I’d grown up admiring, subtle yet strong and wise. Trustworthy. Relatable. Not smooth.
He had also lost his 95-year-old mother 3 days ago, and not been able to attend her funeral due to the lockdown in Mumbai. Perhaps it was this unfairness that hit me square in the jaw. The way this story is repeated over and over and over again. Isolation in life is one thing, isolation in death, quite another. From the very beginning of this pandemic, I’ve heard of funerals that families and friends could not attend, deaths alone in hospital beds with a dozen tubes, with loved ones far away. Death is the great equalizer, but facing it in a hospital bed without being able to see a face you love, that’s torment none of us deserve.
And then Thursday, India lost Rishi Kapoor, and Chuni Goswami, both legends in their own right. I’m not a Kapoor fan, but the Bollywood songs he lip-synced to were the soundtrack of my childhood. I loved how he’d grown as an actor over his decades in cinema. I’m now terrified of what tomorrow would bring.
Everywhere on social media there are stories of doom and gloom, and this has shot my focus. Been trying to get stuff done on the writing front, which led to this article on writing productivity during the pandemic.
And in an effort to cheer myself, I found this live conversation between Stephen King and John Grisham, which got very absorbing very fast, when the two grand old men of fiction discuss bookstores, their books and their writing processes. Especially their plotter vs pantser banter. Stephen King can be so adorably dramatic when flipping out and lovable when he talks about his wife and the correction tapes on his typewriter; and Grisham goes on about the ‘strip at the bottom which gets a red thing that goes ding and then he wants to check it.’ Great to know that even the giants are not immune to the internet’s distraction machine!
So that’s my picture of the covid roller-coaster this week.
How’s life treating you? How’s the writing been? Reading? Life? Grocery shopping? Lockdowns? Comments have dipped lately, so if you do stop by, drop me a line instead of the usual Like. Be good to chat, hey.
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