While it's true that I have been inspired and influenced by various people at various stages of my life, I had never had a guru in the conventional sense.
As I child, I was a movie buff and I enjoyed watching Hindi films. Of course I loved action and music, but more than anything else, it was the dialogue writer who would keep me glued to my seat. The Salim Khan-Javed Akhtar duo had had a great impact on me. Their dialogues shaped my Hindi-Urdu during my formative days. The influence is evident and I remain indebted to them for that. In songwriting, my greatest influence has always been the one and only Majrooh Sultanpuri. I loved to hum songs (mostly Hindi) but I was (and I still am) a pathetic singer. I always wanted to sing like Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar - undoubtedly the greatest male playback singers of Hindi cinema. I would sit with their photos in front of me and try to sing(only when I was alone at home).
Cricket was my first love(now I don't warch or discuss cricket at all). I was a poor batsman, so I idolised fast bowlers. I could bowl reasonably, if not genuinely fast. In those days, Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson and Michael Holding were my heroes. They were right-arm fast bowlers and I am a southpaw, but I read their interviews and articles and tried to learn from them.
Come 1992 and I was bitten by the bug of long-distance running. I worked hard and became a marathoner. Who was my idol or guiding force? I had read about the late Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian marathoner who won the Olympic gold at Rome despite running barefoot. I imitated him and ran a few marathon races without socks and shoes. My genes and my past imposed restrictions upon me that no amount of training could overcome. I failed to progress beyond a point, but Bikila's influence has remained.
I can't imagine a life without books. They have been my reliable and loyal companions and preceptors. Apart from our course books, biographies, novels, short stories, plays, poems and even newspapers teach us a lot. Life is the greatest teacher. In this case, the term "life" is comprehensive and all inclusive. It essentially means everything around us. Apart from people and incidents, there are many other living and non-living things in nature that teach us a thing or two. This includes seas, rivers, mountains, trees, animals, birds and even the smallest of insects.
While I have never been face to face with most of those who inspired, influenced and taught me, it's my duty to acknowledge their contribution. They are great preceptors though I may not have been an ideal pupil.
In honor of Guru Purnima, I wanted to share this previously posted piece of mine that I wrote in 2018. I've always viewed Mirakee as an extended family of writers and a home away from home. Blessed to be learning with all of you!
A vagabond I was - A nomad, Sleeping in different houses - Some beautifully ornamented, Some shining with vibrant hues, Some cozy and warm, Some enwrapping in their embrace While some just indifferent: Others shabby and rickety, Some, sombre and gloomy - Each had its uniqueness, Which drew me towards them, But none could make me stay.
Amidst all this vagrancy, I landed up at a place, Similar to those I have been - Yet, uniquely different. For the first time, I was at home. The mirror never before reflected Those eyes smiling so distinctly, Never did the wooden floor - Played tunes when I walked.
All this was but short-Lived, Soon a quake shuddered - Devastating every plinth, And every brick of my home. Now in these 72 beats - Every damn minute, Echoes of my shattering home reverberates, And this nightmare never lets me sleep: Home I would never be again.