Why bother to write?

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“Tell me another story, or I wont speak to you. Tell me another story fast.” My six-year-old self slightly moved on the bed, turning towards my mother as these words flowed out of me. After a five-minute silence in the dark, my mother began speaking. My eyes were wide open, occasionally blinking in awe. I dozed off towards the end and dreamt of English farms and high tea on the mountains with ham sandwiches. I didn’t know what ham exactly was. My father told me it was a kind of meat, like chicken, but different. It sounded tasty; everyone in the story had enjoyed it. So I dreamt of ham as well, ham and cheese.

Everyday I got up and went to school, partially living in a fictional world. In school, where I would awkwardly sit scrawling words at the back of my book in a huge straggling handwriting. To write almost became an obligation, a necessity. I was surprised to see others struggle with essay writing, while I manage to swim through it faster than the goldfish in my fish tank mated. Did everyone else not dream of ham and cheese sandwiches? Apparently not. So I pretended to squiggle words in my book, until everyone had finished because I didn’t want to walk up to the teacher alone.

Slowly and steadily, writing became an inherent part of everything. I didn’t write to reflect, I wrote to escape. To escape what? Nothing in particular. But why live in the real world and be a socially acceptable person, when you can delve into the inclusivity and quirks of fiction.

I grew to love writing, to create, to enhance and to destroy. It became an compulsion to write about the life of the girl in a pink sweater who furtively breaks dolls, the woman who accidently dropped a strand of hair in the fish stew and the man who peeped into his children’s room every night before sleeping. To write beautiful descriptions and heart wrenching stories of these people who probably didn’t know they existed, to give them a beating heart, flesh and blood.

 

Usually, this is followed by a trickle of hope. A hope, that some day someone might just read it. Writing comes for the heart; it pulls the strings of your brain like that strand of spaghetti that is so long that it can never be fully wound around the fork. Maybe no one writes to please, to entice, to involve. But it’s always a pleasure when your writing does manage to do any of it. You run a knife through your heart and cut a slice out, almost like cutting a piece of cake and offering it to someone to consume. To understand you, to understand your story and decide whether or not they like you, based on a bunch of words you wrote.

Except that it isn’t just a bunch of few words, it is a feeling, a desire, an anger that makes you obligated to pick up a pen. An essence that only those large sprawling words can describe. A vulnerability that couldn’t be caged for much longer. Once the thoughts are set in motion, they flow lyrically, like a bird circling around the sky.

What makes writing so important for me, is the power I poses. The power to create what I want, and the power to destroy what I’ve created. To quote my favorite book and author, writing fiction is when “ the unthinkable becomes thinkable, and the impossible really happens.”

Over the years, I have questioned my writing over and over again. What is the purpose of writing if you want to know what others think of it? Am I just an oddity who is looking for a socially acceptable way to escape? Or am I prude who writes for the sake of it? Or is it really everything that I’ve mentioned in the above essay that drives me? After a lot of contemplation, sleepless nights and very few answers I came to a conclusion that the simplest of answers is usually the truth.
So why do I write? To make sure I continue dreaming of ham and cheese sandwiches, and maybe make a few other people dream of it too.

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The emotion in “emotionless.”

If I were to ask my friends or family to describe me in a paragraph, words like detached, aloof, disconnected would be used more often than I drink tea. Knowing myself, I would probably be the last person to disagree with these observations. I like keeping myself away from the part in my brain where emotions reside. It feels like a  slimy, sticky, disorganised and chaotic kitchen where spiders and cockroaches crawl about like kings, knowing the power they have over me. And all the power I am left with is squealing and running as fast and as far as I can. Of course, the trap here is that the slimy kitchen is a part of my slimy brain. The slimy brain that creates so many illusions that I have lost count. It makes me think that the spiders are beautiful daises basking in the sun. My stupid heart filled with hope turns around to look at the spiders more closely, only to have it jump in my face and make me squeal louder than the first time. Sitting on the sticky floor of this scruffy kitchen, I seriously consider training my cat to make tea for the times like these  when I really need it but am too jaded to make it myself. Clearly, it’s a bad day.

I thought that bad days are as worse as it gets. But the human inside me is more unreasonable than I thought. For someone who spent the first paragraph comparing emotions to spiders and cockroaches, I feel like a hypocrite to be saying that the days filled with an emotionless turmoil are more disturbing. Now, I have been told a number times by a number of  different people that ’emotionless’ is also a very prominent emotion. But that explanation feels like a pair of clothes you buy because it looks pretty and classy, but never wear because just doesn’t look right when you do.  After dealing with many such days, I have come to realise that the most annoying part is that  there is no response or feeling to such days. On the happy days, I feel as bubbly as Jessica Day.  On the dark and broody ones I radiate Meredith Grey vibes. But what on earth am I supposed to do on a day when my emotions have disappeared to a point where I cannot even decide which T.V show to binge watch.

The emotionless days come most unexpectedly and bring a huge bag full of laziness with it. Just a while ago I was happily chewing on mint and deciding on the list of people I hate and now just in a day all the hate and the bit of love has hidden behind a huge rock that is too heavy for me to move. And here I am, sipping on my fourth cup of tea, with a laptop to my right and a half finished novel to the left wondering where all the spiders went.

Instead of just admitting that ’emotionless’ is also an emotion, my brain of course had to go through and extensive phase of denial about being human. I made tremendously unsuccessful attempts at  describing and categorising my emotions in the most logical and meticulous way possible only to resort to a Google search. The Google search was most definitely a bad idea, because it told me that I was suffering through a dozen mental illnesses simultaneously. My brain, still unconvinced decided to extensively read about every one of them before finally giving in. And I had my moment of epiphany, just like Sherlock Holmes, I told myself softly,  “It’s not a pleasant thought, but I have this terrible feeling from time to time, that we might all just be human.”

A random chain of thoughts

Tick tock goes the clock. That is the only sound I hear as I sit in my living room staring at the fish tank in front of me, desperately trying to write something. I have hidden behind writers block for too long now, I told myself. So I just picked up the laptop and started typing words, completely clueless of where this was going. It is funny how used to I am to this feeling of not knowing what I am writing. What makes it worse is that I don’t get along very well with the unknown. I like being in the know, I like to be aware of what I feel and want. Considering how detached I am, most people find it difficult to believe that I am aware of what I feel. That is what perceptions do. They restrict us from having our own identities. And before you know it, you might just be trying to live up to a perception that you didn’t even agree with in the first place. Am I ranting? Yes I think I am ranting.

Now the clock’s ticking seems to have been overpowered by the high pitched singing of the alcoholic who stays in the apartment above mine. He does that a lot. The signing is still fine. What is bothering sometimes is the noise of vessels being thrown around in his house while he is having a drunk argument with his wife. No one knows if he is just throwing these vessels or is he aiming at his wife. She seems to be a pretty normal lady when I see her, usually on Sundays as she walks back home from Church. But can you really be normal if you are married to an alcoholic? I wonder. The singing has stopped now. Luckily for me, they didn’t fight today.

By now I am no longer thinking about this couple that should definitely get a divorce. I am now contemplating my existence. Not in a bad way. In a good way. In a “I love myself” way. Because I do love myself, a lot actually. I am thinking of the things I like, the people in my life. The ones I love, the ones I like and  the ones I absolutely hate.  And then there is this mysterious category of people who don’t fall in any of the above categories.  They just exist. They are  not making any valuable contribution to my life, but for some reason they are still there.

And I start thinking of everything and anything in my life.  How back in school me and my best friend used to sit on the old wooden desks with our lunch boxes and conveniently ignore the rest of the class and be asocial together. The times me and my sister went crazy over a Bollywood movie. The stories that my mother told me every night. The time my father taught me how to ride a bike. The amusing conversations I have had with my housemate this year. Just to give you an idea, they go something like this-   ” Are you sure that I can’t kill him?” ” You can, but he might not die, so blow up his house instead.” The ‘him’ here is , well.. a lot of people actually, so never mind.

But in a nutshell, I thought everything that has led to this moment. This moment where I am not really doing anything revolutionary, just staring into my mirthless fish tank and trying to think of something to write. Which brings me to my point ( and yes I do have a point ) that you don’t need much to thrive. You already have everything you need to survive within you. So the drunk guy will keep singing, the fish in my tank will keep dying, the people around me will continue to exist despite what I feel about them and my life will basically go on.  But the problem  is-   thoughts.  This overflowing sea of thoughts that brings in anxiety, nerves and complications just seconds after I tell myself I don’t need much to thrive. They take me right back to where I started and I no longer think that I have a point. And I kind of agree with what Silvya Path once said-” If I didn’t think, I’d be much happier.”

PS-  After this very random post, another random confession- while reading what I had written, I read it in Meredith Grey’s voice for some reason;)