One of the best real life stories I have ever heard has come from one of my teachers in my B-school. I am grateful to my teacher for this wonderful story, which I have tried to retell in my own words.
Near my college, there is a lush green park bordered by tall trees. Even at 4:30 AM in the morning you can find the park filled with people doing their yoga and morning walks. A few of them, like my teacher, however prefer jogging on a nice track which runs parallel to the outer circumference of the park.
Run for half an hour, watch the sunrise and then run some more – that used to be his daily schedule.
One day he was late for his run. The sun was already up by the time he hit the jogging track. He decided to make up for lost time and started running fast. Just when he was about to complete his third round, his eyes wandered towards an old man who was standing in front of a Peepal tree, looking at it with an unbroken gaze. Something was odd about the man. Dressed in white kurta and pyjama, he had long, white silky hair shining in the sun and an equally long Gandalf-like beard.
My teacher chose to ignore the man and continued with his jogging. Run after run, however, he found the old man standing at the same place looking at the tree with dazed eyes. Is he mad? Has he lost a near or dear one? These were the questions which passed through my teacher’s mind momentarily. But, he shrugged them off and went home.
To his surprise, for the next three mornings he saw the old man standing at the same place, looking at the tree continuously, hardly batting an eyelid. My teacher could no longer remain unperturbed. Something was seriously odd with the man. He needed to see some psychiatrist. Doesn’t he have kids, who can take care of this mentally retarded man?
The following day, when starting from his home, my teacher decided to have a chat with this man. And maybe, talk some sense into him.
But, the old man was nowhere to be seen today. His regular place in front of the Peepal tree lay deserted. Where did he go? Is he alright? Battling questions tugging at his heartstrings, my teacher grudgingly decided to get on with his run.
To his relief, after one round, his eyes struck a familiar figure sitting on a chair at a far end of the park. The man had the same long hair and beard, but was not looking at the Peepal tree this time. In fact, he was fiddling with a cardboard stand mounted in front of him.
My teacher could not continue jogging. Desperately wanting to clear the air over this mystery, he started walking towards him. As he went nearer and nearer, his eyes grew larger and larger with astonishment. The cardboard stand was actually an easel holding a canvas. The old man was an artist busy in his work. His hands moved professionally, smearing shades of green, brown and yellow over the fabric, creating a deliriously beautiful piece of art – a Peepal tree.
My teacher stood there astounded. The mad old man didn’t need a treatment. He realized that the world however did.
The reason I told you this story in a blog dedicated to thriller writers is to help you draw some inspiration. The old man was not an idiot. He just had a different way of working, a different way of looking at things. For a moment, put the publishers and literary agents at my teacher’s place and yourself at the old man’s place. You will realize that you just need to keep working at your masterpiece with unwavering dedication, careless of the world’s questioning eyes. The world will someday admire your Peepal tree.