While I was in India last week I interviewed the writer Amit Chaudhuri. He was charming and interesting and terribly middle-class. He comes from a middle-class Bengali family, grew up with “servants” as he called them (interesting note we PC Europeans would not think of calling them that but I just arranged for our maid’s visa and in her passport under job description is written just that) and went to private schools.
In a poem I read by him he said that: “My problem was how to suffer, for I knew suffering to be essential to art; and yet there was little cause for suffering. I had loving parents and everything I required.”
This is a sentiment Rupert and I have often discussed. OK so we have had our share of suffering but we have often wondered if we are just not angst-ridden enough to be serious writers. Actually all I ever wanted to be was Jilly Cooper so not much need for angst but you get the idea. Chaudhuri laughed when I asked him about his lack of suffering and said, “I suffered because I didn’t suffer.”
I am pleased to report that Leonardo will be able to call himself a serious writer. He is still suffering because of his “girlfriend”, the feckless Eloise. In fact the total angst and suffering knows no bounds. He won’t even CONSIDER the option of another girl and cries at the very mention of her. Here he is looking dreamy on the beach at the weekend.
The only sign that he is toughening up was that yesterday, after weeks of pleading from us all, he proudly told us “I haven’t called her for two days. Normally I call her every day, all day. Now she’ll be thinking ‘why hasn’t he called?’ Ha. I’m doing hard to get.”
With advisers like his canny sisters, there is no way his strategy can fail. And if it does, it will just be fodder for more poetry.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2010