Inspiration. Tribute. Imitation. Plagiarism. In a world where nothing comes in water tight compartments; there has never been any confusion, there are no grey areas, while looking at "borrowed" work. We all know instinctively under which of these four categories it may fall.
I am a strange person and I grew up amongst stranger people. So I have known people who have taken affront when someone in the village named their baby after them/their child/their husband "and they did not even take permission, imagine!" . I have also known people who named their child after a snooty relative' "just to spite them" and given them the same nickname as well "you think you are so superior with your fancy name huh, there you go". And then there are friends who will call you up and tell you they love your nephew so much. Could they name their new baby after him? How we hope he grows up to be just like him. Yes, not so strange actually. But that is the way we are. Where nothing is personal, or perhaps everything is. And so in our everyday life we walk the continuum of inspiration. Tribute. Slipping into the dangerous territory of imitation. But what pushes us to plagiarize?
We borrow life experiences. But at what stage do they stop being "tales of caution" (remember what happened to X?) or "motivation" (if she can, surely I could stop procrastinating and move my butt?!) and move on to the "copy/cut/paste someone else's life experiences, their life choices" stage? (I have had one frenemy narrating my zany childhood tales as her own) It angered me, not just because it robbed me of my interesting dinner time anecdote, but as my eccentricity is all I have.
Words are all that writers like Parul have.
Yes, unke paas bungla hai, gaadi hai, maa hai, bacha and piyar hai. But in the end it is her words that stay with us. What does one do when someone shares their lives with us in such a non-ansgty way. You could be inspired to, as Oprah keeps on telling us "to live your best life ever", in honour of their approach towards life. I do not want this post to become a gush-fest, but dosti ki hai nibhani tou hogi, Parul has taught me to stop worrying and start living. Just as Kiran and Jammie have about creating a happy bubble and multi-tasking through motherhood. MayG , Trish, The MadMomma and Mona do, being as they are part of my Incredible League of Mommyhood. (And I stop here, not because I love you, you or you in the back row any less, but I can hear the music now).
there is one thing about channeling them in your every day (or marvel how they are living your lives, and here I explore all the Lost and Found in A Fair Ground theories, Lady K this one is for you) and hope to face life as they do, but there is another thing when we start treading into dangerous "Single White Female" stalker-girl territory. What do you do when you start reaching into someone's life, borrowing their experiences, chiseling them a bit and constructing the edifice of yours? When you reach into someone's change purse and tell yourself Oh Well She is a Rich One, All Those Adventures, It is Not As If I Borrow Some Of Her Days and She Will Miss Them. What does one do about this, hmm?
and then you progress into passing off their life stories as yours. And commerce replaces just looking for platitudes?
And here I broach my Anu Malik vs Nadeem Shravan theory. Both copy. In fact you will not be remiss if you thought their full names were Shree Copy Cat Anu Malik. or Messrs Nadeem Shravan Plagiarizer. But there is a difference in my derision. Anu Malik I fob off with a, ah he has talent, but so lazy yara, why does he have to copy when he can come up with a decent tune. He claims "inspiration" and I grunt a little. But the duo Nadeem Shravan, now why do I resent them so? Yes, they were smarmy. And they wore awful clothes. But I hated them with a passion, for they robbed me of feeling good about my place in the world when there was so little already to be proud of. In their case there was no evidence of any original thought. They based their whole film career plagiarizing Pakistani music.. the 90s were a tough decade for me...I could not email Philips Top Ten every week or all the other chart shows STOP PLAYING THIS SONG AND/OR ATTRIBUTE OUR GUYS. Forget about "inspiration" and "art knowing no boundary" " great minds think alike" ..for in this case it also comes down to money. What I referred to earlier as the commerce of inspiration. Of picking up royalties. While the original artist may live in penury. I could not ask the young lad whistling the tune in Bombay " this is Mehdi Hasan you are singing bro". Or send links to Pakistani film tracks (Youtube why couldnt you come a decade earlier?). There is one thing of calling yourself Bjorn Again. But another thing of umm, we all have these cool hair cuts, wear play suits , have you heard our new pop number "Oh Mamma! Oh Mamma! Oh Mamaa-me-meow-mia!"
So for most of the 90s and some of the Noughties I could only rant and rave and channel
Dard-i-dil likhoon kab tak, jaon un ko dikhlaon/ Unglian figar apni, khama khoonchakan apna
When do I stop writing of the pain that wrenches my heart? Should I show my Beloved these bruised fingers of mine – the writing-reed that drips of my blood?”
But I have a blog now.
So when I see people borrowing, and I can see now profiting, from "channeling" "copying" "being inspired" "imitating" a dear friend's life, I stick my head out. I risk being called The One Who Loves To Stir Trouble and invite all the trolls. Again dosti ki hai nibhani tou hogi. I have a memory that freaks people out. I remember phrases. I remember how they made me feel. And I can pick them out when I see them again even if it has been a couple of years.
Which brings me to you. How I could I forget you, for it was you who inspired me to write this. And this is but a tribute to your craftiness.
It remains to be seen whether you are a Nadeem-Shravan or an Anu.
But for now I suggest
Try it on for size.
If the cap fits and all that.