Articles

Article Published in THE TIMES OF INDIA

Summer Awakening

Navtej Sarna

ONE rarely gives thought to the connection between the hot weather and the fortunes of freelancing. But it exists.

I walk into the editor’s room with my shirt sticking to my back like some homemade glue. The room is heavily shaded and the blast from the cooler is most welcome. When my eyes adjust to the dimness, I look at the man’s desk.

The fire- eating dragon of winter months is asleep.

The same man had given me one look on a sunny crisp winter’s day and his wordless denunciation had been clear: You again! With pieces which only you think are funny, and that too in your weak moments!”

Now that the summer rages in the streets and the makers of coolers are wreathed in smiles, the editor’s faculties have been lulled. His heavy-lidded eyes give me no more than half a glance, trying no doubt to dismiss me as a passing dream.

When they snore editors always snore euphoniously. Now his euphonious snore invites me to sit down. I do so. With clammy hands I take out the manuscript.

“Would you care to take a look at this diligently written piece on a topical subject which I’m sure will be up to the standards of your prestigious publication?” You see, by now I have it pat.

This time the response is a languid snore. Or is it an acceptance?

“Sir, I am really sorry to bother you on this hot afternoon. But I thought you could use something along these lines.” With that, I lean across and give him a friendly poke in the ribs. The action begins.

“Huh, Ah. Yes, yes, how are you?

You’ve brought something. Leave it here.” The eyes begin to close.

I am too hard- boiled to fall for that “leave it here” bit. It is the pet phrase of people who find easier to say “ no” by post.

“If you could spare a moment…”

Snore.

I drop a paperweight. I will not let him sleep.

Determination wins out. Roused but not yet ready he picks up my newest scrap of literature. Awake but not alert he makes a snap decision.” Yes, we’ll use it. Looks good .You have improved.”

Is that what he is saying? Or has he run out of rejection slips? Where am I? Who is that sleeper in front of me? You see…I am!… beginning to feel drowsy myself.