Ctrl Z: Sample Chapters

 

Synopsis

Haven’t you wished that you could reverse your actions and words?
Haven’t you wished you had reacted differently?
Haven’t you wished to change something or erase something?
In this short book, I have shared those events, incidents, memories etcetera that I have sort of regretted or want to undo.
All of us have thought of pressing Ctrl Z in real life at least once.
And that is precisely why I feel you should read it. It is a short book and doesn’t take much of your time anyway.

Length: 72 pages

***  

The Inspiration 

When I first decided to pursue my writing dream, I had written a list of topics and a set of titles that I would want to work on. 

And I do work on those. 

Every morning, however, I wake up with yet another idea. Every night, I sleep with yet another idea. Often, I can’t sleep because of a thought that can be promising for a book. I unlock my phone and start to jot it down. My pile of ideas is growing by the day. 

Past week, when I was drowning in the sea of self-doubt, I wanted to stop writing. For the better part of the week, I sulked. In that phase, I was convinced that I can’t really write. I recalled every negative and upsetting aspect of my life. Soon, the pessimism was too overwhelming to handle.  

In the next phase, I didn’t want to do anything creative. The lazy lady in me jumped at the opportunity to sit idly, laze around and indulge in another favourite pastime of mine – daydreaming. That phase didn’t last long, because daydreaming woke up my practical and realistic self.  

“Whatever you want to achieve, wouldn’t make it happen by itself. You need to get your bottom out of the bed and start working on it.” My painfully practical ‘self’ shouted.  

My brain motivated me to ignore the trolls and focus on writing. But I was too disheartened. 

I wanted to write for myself, to myself. And then it struck me. 

Hey, a memoir. 

I contacted my dear professor Google to explain to me the difference between biography, autobiography, memoir, biographical fiction and fictional biographies. 

I understood nothing; at least the definitions for the last two were so bizarre; I stopped googling after a few minutes. To hell with terminology, I would just write what I want to and share it with the world. 

It was 2 a.m. I started typing right away until my eyes watered, and my fingers ached. By next afternoon, my first draft stood at 12K words. Impressive, isn’t it? 

I have never read a memoir before. I was tempted to read one, before publishing my own. I wanted to be sure that I have identified the genre correctly. At the same, I didn’t want to be influenced by something I read. Worse, there was a fair chance that the memoir I pick to read turns out to be so freaking good that I get scared, again. 

Nine days later, I present to you one of the nonstop ramblings that go in my head. I am not chronicling the events of my life. I just have a bunch of childhood memories. Tag it as daily journal, essays, diary, memoir, biography, true accounts, or letters –whatever you want to name it. 

Haven’t you wished that you could revert your actions and words?  

Haven’t you wished you had reacted differently?  

Haven’t you wished to change something or erase something?   

In this short book, I have shared those events, incidents, memories etcetera that I have sort of regretted or want to undo.  

All of us have thought of pressing Ctrl Z in real life at least once. And that is precisely why I feel you should read it. It is a short book and doesn’t take much of your time anyway. 

Have fun! 

Shabana Mukhtar

***

Undo #1 

 Kids are small bundles of joy (and trouble). 

I am not a parent, but I have been with enough kids to know how a parent ‘may’ feel. 

My elder sisters are married. One of them has been blessed with three sons. The other one has a son and a daughter. For me, I have four beautiful (and crazy) nephews. The older ones are not very cute anymore and are borderline devilish at times. The youngest nephew is about to turn a year old.  My niece is only five months old. The youngest members of the lot are purity and cuteness personified. 

I often wonder what kids are thinking about? What goes on their mind? What do they see? Why do they laugh when they do? How do they identify their parents and siblings from others? 

Kids are small bundles of mystery. 

*** 

 I have some vivid memories about my childhood. I must have been three or four. I remember myself as an angry kid and I still remember my thought process back then used to be crazy. That aspect of my life hasn’t changed much, to be honest. 

I also remember that I felt misunderstood even at that young age. For instance, once I failed to abide by my mom’s instructions and she was not very pleased with me. She scolded me and I did what kids do – closed my eyes and stopped talking to everyone. An hour of sulking had passed. Then, my aunt came to visit us. Her daughter was with her. My cousin was about my age. I was ecstatic to have someone to play with, but then remembered that I am not talking. I resisted the temptation and kept my eyes shut. 

My mom was talking to my aunt and I was lying down near them. They were talking about somebody who had recently passed away. They described the last two days of the deceased in such details that I felt sad and sadness meant tears. I started weeping. All my pretence of being asleep was gone for a toss.  

My aunt was worried. “Is she crying? I thought she was sleeping. Why is she crying?” 

“She must be sulking about the scolding she got earlier,” said mom. 

I wanted to correct her, “Mom… No… I’m just upset about the person who passed away…” 

I didn’t. 

Did I want to tell them about my feelings?  I wasn’t brave enough.   

Would they have understood me? I wasn’t sure.  

I am still not sure.  

Even today, I feel that I am misunderstood, more severely than ever. 

*** 

Another childhood memory is about visiting the paediatrician when my younger sister or I fell sick. Dad would take us to the clinic. The clinic was on a five minutes’ walk. It opened at five o’clock in the evening and closed at nine o’clock at night. It was located at the intersection of two roads. I can still visualize the board that hung on the clinic. It was a whiteboard that had gathered some dust and rust and displayed the doctor’s name, timing in faded blue and red letters. I have a vivid picture of the waiting room as well as the doctor’s room. If only I could paint or draw, it would have made for a nice cover for the book. 

I recall the silence in the clinic. Back in those days, people did respect the atmosphere of a clinic and maintained the silence until their turn came. 

I remember Dr Joshi, too. I remember his kind face, his soft voice, his polite smile… 

I distinctly remember the smell of the clinic. 

And I miss all of it.  

I realize the irony. When I was young, I wanted to grow up and be independent. Just like everybody else, I went through the usual chain of wanting to be in the next phase of life and not enjoying the current one.  

When I was in kindergarten, 

I wanted to be in middle school when I was in second grade. 

When I was enrolled in middle school, I wanted to be in high school because I felt that the senior classes were treated with more respect and were given more opportunities. 

Then, I wanted to be in junior college and experience the co-education system. 

Then, I wanted to go to college in a different city. 

Then, I wanted a job. 

Now, I have a job and I don’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped. 

Why did I have to grow up so quickly? 

***  

Undo #2  

 

My earliest memories of school are still very vivid; so vivid that I can imagine myself sitting in there with my young friends. 

It is a little-known fact that I wasn’t off to a very good start when I was enrolled in the school, KG to be specific. Back in those days, there was no concept of about pre-school and pre-primary school. When kids turned 3-ish, they were admitted to the nearby school for kids. There was only one. That school was called KG school. I learned much later in my life that KG is an acronym and it stands for Kindergarten. I guess I was in the second year of college 😊 

I digress. It wasn’t so much of a school. It was a big room, more like a marriage hall. It was owned by the handloom office next door. It was their warehouse where they stored hanks of threads and woven sarees. It was rather big room with high ceilings. They had graciously agreed to lend the room to be used as KG school. The students occupied only a quarter of the entire hall and were frequently distracted by the employees who visited to store or take items from the warehouse. 

***

You can buy the book here. Or, email me for a review copy.

Shabana Mukhtar

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