Ever since I can remember, I’ve been in love with the written word. That dates back to fourth grade because my memory seems to have blocked out life before that. Starting with ‘The Secret of the Burnt Cottage’ by Enid Blyton only to demolish library after library in the neighbourhood and devour all their books hungrily, I was, to put it mildly, a voracious reader.
As Stephen King famously said ‘If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that’.
I had, in my childhood, picked up some basic tools for my English essays. My teachers in Chennai, India, were delighted that my compositions were imaginative and conveyed concepts such as solar eclipses during which the sky went dark only to convince the ‘locals’ of the ‘tribe’ that the protagonist of my essay had supernatural powers (an idea inspired by Tintin), horses with wings and other mythical creatures.
From class nine onward, for a long time, however, I forsake reading for pleasure. I still don’t know how I let it happen. That took a heavy toll on my writing and should I say, identity. But for some sporadic reading, I didn’t read like I breathed. Which was what happened earlier. So life slowly began to ebb away from me, until I was a shell of my former self. In my quest to be a freelance feature writer, my writing lost all soul.
Now, 40, I have rediscovered the joys of reading. And writing. And editing. I feel like Voldemort who is getting stronger and stronger after drinking the unicorn’s blood, except that I’m on the good side. I would definitely choose Gryffindor if a sorting hat were to be placed over my head.
Four years ago, I was in Bangalore, India, at a café where a book event was being conducted. Yasmeen Premji, author of ‘Days of Gold and Sepia’, and wife of billionaire industrialist Azim Premji, was discussing her book. I’d been invited to the event and landed up with a copy of the book to get her autograph.
When I went up to her desk, she asked me whether I was a writer. I said I wasn’t sure. She was quick to say “Then, you most certainly are.”
I guess writing to me is like cycling. Once you learn to cycle, you don’t forget it. You get back on the bike and it gives you a sense of freedom as you propel the bike forward by pedaling. Similarly, writing about topics of my choice is cathartic. It sets free my spirit and strengthens my sense of self. I identify as a writer and editor. A published author has told me that I make a better editor than a writer, but the need to express myself never goes away. Call it my way of putting myself out there, my small way of trying to make a mark in this huge cosmos before we all become dust and return to the earth, the drive remains. The desire to get better at it remains. What I will make of myself remains to be seen. I may just continue to remain a small speck in this cosmos. But that’s okay too 🙂