Manasa wins 2nd prize in the India Writing Projects creative writing competition.

Being called an inspiration is very different from being one. Little did Maanvi know that her reputation as an “inspiration” would be tested, even before the blush of success faded from her cheeks.

It was a hot afternoon. Maanvi sighed and plopped down heavily on the couch. She had just returned from a trip to her alma mater, where she presided over a function as a guest speaker. “The rising star of contemporary writing,” “the crown jewel of our institute,” “a true inspiration”—she recalled the adoring phrases with deep satisfaction, her eyes closed.

Suddenly, she opened her eyes and turned to the side, to see the object she had

unknowingly played with – a crumpled envelope. In a flash, she remembers a

a shy, round-faced girl pushing her way through the crowd of admirers, to force the envelope into her hand. She was gone before Maanvi could answer.

She smoothed the envelope and ran her fingers over the words,

“From, Mrs. Chaos”.

Curious, she opened it and began to read the letter.

“Dear Maanvi,

Do you know what’s worse than being stupid? It’s being smart but feeling completely useless. I know I have it in me, but I just don’t believe in myself. It’s very easy for people to criticize. They think I’m just lazy and frivolous. But, life has not been easy for me. Bearing the scars of childhood trauma (which I don’t wish to talk about), I managed to reach college. Although I almost let go of the past, insecurities linger like stubborn stains. Fear of failure It hurts my heart. The constant panic attacks don’t help either.

And now, at a crucial time in my life, I have no idea what I want. years of

emotional suppression made me unable to know myself.

Will I succeed in life, Maanvi? Will I succeed? Or should I just live a simple life and leave when it’s time? What do you think?

Best regards,

Ms Chaos.

Without taking her eyes off the letter, Maanvi got up and walked quickly to her writing table, which gave her servant, who had just brought lunch, the signal to retire in silence.

“Dear Mrs. Chaos,

I don’t know if saying “I can fully understand your situation” would bring you any comfort. Instead, I would like to share an experience with you.

6 years ago, I traveled to my native village, still untouched by the

city ​​extravaganzas. Since I couldn’t find a taxi, I took the city bus.

Trust me, Mrs. Chaos, if there’s one thing that can put your title to shame, it’s this bus.

With a capacity of 75, the bus carried over 250 passengers – some seated, many standing and many others just hanging on for their dear life. I was pressed uncomfortably against several uprights and barely had room to move a leg. Sweating profusely, I sincerely prayed that I would be able to get off the bus safely once I reached my destination. In short, I was in the middle of a complete “chaos”.

As the bus moved forward, my eyes, tired of the eternal greenery outside, slowly shifted to the chaos inside. The group standing next to me laughed loudly at a joke and one of them doubled over and punched me hard in the stomach. Eyes watering with pain, I craned my neck to see a few seated passengers waving at known passengers from all directions and huddling together as much as they could to make room for them. As I turned around, I saw a 90-year-old grandmother walking towards the center with surprising strength, cursing everyone standing in the way. Behind her, two young boys grabbed the rods and did gymnastics much to the amusement of their infant siblings.

I found it amazing that the growing crowd barely had an effect on the conductor. He managed to repeatedly navigate his way through traffic, handing out tickets, kicking several shins in the process. Packets of food and crisps were passed around, the contents spilling over several passengers, who in turn used every known abusive word to curse them.

Laughing involuntarily, I felt my discomfort drift away from me. Instead, I felt the

the intensity of life and pulsating energy in this crowded space. It occurred to me that I felt pain and discomfort, only when I tried to distract myself from “Chaos”. As I watched every event in that city bus, I started to be a part of it.

And once I was part of it, I felt no more discomfort.

At least once in our life, we fall into the “I” trap because of personal loss, misery,

breakdown etc.

Can I do it? Am I good? Am I bad? Am I better than the others? Will I succeed? will i

fail? Will I be loved? – There is no end to this “I” trap.

To be honest, I used to struggle with writer’s block quite often. I almost gave up on my dream.

But getting on that city bus changed my outlook on life.

I never faced writer’s block again, because I stopped relying on “me” for inspiration.

Instead, I simply transformed into a medium, allowing inspiration to flow through me. I opened up to the world and realized I was already part of something big.

So Ms. Chaos, if you’re still looking for some solid advice, here it is.

Hop on a bus, drop the “I” and just watch.

Will it work? I can’t say that.

After all, experiments are like tossing a coin. The result can be heads or tails.

But, as you watch the coin fall, your instinct kicks in to tell you what you want it to be.

Until then, keep trying.

Cordially,

Maanvi (ex-Ms. Chaos) Link: https://indiawritingproject.com/