Haikus: Heaven or Hell?

I have been fascinated by haikus ever since my Second Year of college, when we were taught to write them. I love the soothing counting of syllables on my fingers and with my tendency for random ramblings loved their conciseness. However, while I always wanted to sink my teeth into the creation of haikus, I never had the time what with projects, life and then Boards. However, a month ago, the perfect opportunity for haikus arose.

I decided to do a collection of 30-odd haikus as part of my application into various Masters programs. I thought that instead of writing cookie cutter essays which indirectly say “Im so awesome! You guys HAVE to take me!”, I’d write a series of haikus about…everything. Doris the typewriter, my love affair with shoes, Anne of Green Gables, my newfound love of baking etc. And so, with the idea in place, and a list of topics in place, all that remained was to actually…write. Which as it always is, is always easier said than done.

So this month, that is what I have done. Write 2 haikus. Take a day’s break. Write 3 haikus. Clean my room. Write a haiku. Watch television. Write 3 haikus. Bake a pie. Talk on the phone. Read a book. Read another book. Daydream about London. Make tea. Make a complicated chocolate/coffee concoction. Sleep. Surf the net. Read some more. Watch movies. I read blogs. And before I knew it, the days were flying, I wasn’t getting any nearer to my haiku deadline, and I was so sick and tired of writing them, I didn’t want to see a pencil, paper, or anything to do with writing. The haikus that had flown from the end of my yellow pencil so effortlessly in the beginning was becoming a burden that I couldn’t carry, and I wanted to give up haikus, give up the thought of Masters and becoming a writer to boot.

I had written in every room, every chair in the house. I had sat on the floor, sprawled on my parents bed, even sat on the kitchen counter and zilch. I listened to every possible genre of music. I tried different notebooks, resorting to a large sketchbook that not only seemed to produce better results but seemed to channel my oh-so talented artistic friends I left behind in Bombay whom I miss all the time. A friend checked on my progress everyday and sometimes I’d resort to lying about my progress just so I wouldn’t have to talk about those damn haikus that I had only myself to blame for. I seriously thought of throwing in the towel and writing a cookie cutter essay in 15 minutes just to get the damn thing over with. I grew to resent the sketchbook filled with scribbled haikus and hid it in a bag which I then hid in a drawer which I then blocked with a very large stuffed elephant. I occupied my head with other things, and tried not to hear pages of a calendar swishing in my head and the clock ticking abnormally loudly.

Finally, in an act of desperation, I did the only thing I could do. I went out. I went out of the house that was haiku taunting me from every corner, and grabbed my sketchbook just in case. I sat in a coffee shop I’d never been to before, fought with a waitress for assuming I was playing hooky from school, watched babies clad in hats and tiny sandals, gave mental makeovers to people walking by, and in between sips of coffee, I wrote. I paid no attention to the time, deadlines, or that it was almost lunchtime. I just wrote, and before I knew it, by the time I reached the dregs of my coffee, I was done. Really done. I had finished all 10 haikus I had to write to complete my deadline of 30-odd haikus, and they were GOOD. They were effortless, and utterly mine. And from the reactions of the people who have read them, they are everything I had wanted them to be when I embarked on my haiku journey a month ago.

That day I slept the most peaceful sleep I had had in a month.

To you-know-who-you-are – Go out. Leave. Take a walk. People watch. It’ll come, you’ll see.

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6 thoughts on “Haikus: Heaven or Hell?

  1. Oh, my little Haiku Samurai,I must read those last 10 Haikus …… I am sure they will be better than the earlier ones.

  2. Sigh. I understand. And empathise. I\’ve been writing blog posts for months on end, except that it\’s all in my mind… After compulsively reading every blog on earth, I still can\’t bring myself to write them down. Travelling this weekend, maybe that\’ll help. I think I\’ll take your advice.P.S. I heart haiku! And Vinita ma\’am! I\’m so glad she was a part of our lives…P.P.S. Coming to India anytime soon? Miss yous. Lots of very much so.

  3. Hobo – I knows that. You taught me that :)Mommy Mathews – How is it that "those last 10 haikus" are NOT the last, but the prequel to the last 10? I hate haikus. Again. Mahithi – YOU! Keep telling me to blog and then never blogging yourself! Shame on the you. I will to be coming in June. Long time no? Will you be in Bombay then? Mail me newsies of your Chennai Chronicles. Missing you lots of also. Hug.

  4. My petunia – you have a new name "Kyra Haiku Chotu Samurai Pooja Mathews". It really seems to be an overdose of Haikus for you this time round. Sympathies …… Should I make some more potato bake?

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