For me it was one and only one thing: to be a great writer! A wish that remained a secret till not long ago.
Everybody has a secret wish, a wish to do something or be somebody other than what they actually are. Such wishes mostly manifest themselves during childhood — like a famous cook fuelling a desire in one to be a chef, or a danseuse stoking the fires of dance. For me it was one and only one thing — to be a great writer! A wish that remained a secret till not very long ago.
In college, English was the only subject I truly enjoyed and the class that drew maximum participation from me. The other classes were spent reading English novels surreptitiously behind textbooks. Sidney Sheldon, John Grisham and Agatha Christie’s stupendous characters would come alive and fuel most of our discussions after class, not to mention the romantic plots of Mills and Boon and Danielle Steel.
As with all beginners, my grammar was not really my strong point (as evidenced by the red marks on my answer sheets). Grammar is like make-up. Done well and you will hardly notice it, but done badly and it will make even a beautiful face seem ugly.
So with a heavy heart I gave up writing, discouraged by the not-so-high marks. Instead I plunged myself into the world of reading with even more vigour. Sometimes the vigour would be so intense that my mother would find my face buried behind a book all day. I remember once she called me out of my room and said enough reading, lest you forget to speak, child! Come sit here and talk to your grandma. The grandmother in her wisdom would impart those pearls of advice that reading was all good but not to the point of self-exile.
Life of Pi moment
Between then and now, I have been blessed with a great husband and a feisty child. Becoming a mother was a ‘Life of Pi’ moment for me. You weather storm after storm and ask God, “Is that all? Don’t you have anymore left?!” Yes, it’s no myth, becoming a mother makes you stronger, wiser and more aware (I am talking yogi-level awareness). You become this god-like figure soaking everything in, reading myriad nonsense, paying more unnecessary attention. I think it’s secretly so that you don’t come off as a fool in front of your own child. Mummy, why do we pray? What’s an assembly election? Why are there so many planets? God forbid you stare blankly at them; it will mar you and them for the rest of their precious lives. So politics, philosophy, religion, everything is an interesting topic now.
This time when I gave writing a shot, somehow everything I read turned into an interesting plot or character. When I felt brave enough to share some chapters with my family, they actually encouraged it and what they said didn’t have to hide behind veiled compliments.
Soon, the Harper’s Guide to English Grammar, the Webster’s dictionary and books of all genres became my constant companions, along with my son.
Both are great for company, but little did I realise the hatred one had for the other. Here I was sharpening my grammar, divine revelations knocking my consciousness, when a tiny presence crept beside me. Before I knew it, Harper’s was flying rapidly to the ceiling. In fact, he even touched it and fell down with a painful thud. My lovely son…such was his dedication to naughtiness.
Another time after meticulous planning I set up my laptop next to the computer and explained very forcefully to him…this is yours, this is Mummy’s. As he got occupied with the keys and myriad windows I proceeded to write on my laptop.
Finally, a thought, a story revealed itself and I immersed myself into putting those thoughts into words — when a tiny hand reached across and pressed random keys garbling my writing along with my thoughts. Which part of this is yours and this is mine, did he not understand? Maybe I should try the traditional way. I took a pen and paper, and wrote behind the protection of a pillow. I could’ve fooled my lecturer, but had no such luck with my son. Before I knew he was running around in a fit of fury demanding the pen and paper.
Is there a corner in this world I could hide, or a nook I could conquer? Dear God No! Not without his tiny permission.
My son wants to spend every second of his precious life with me. I have done something right, for sure! Today, after much haggling like a vegetable vendor (that’s me) and an Indian housewife running on a tight budget (my son, who else!), we have established some ground rules and regulations. Interruptions are part of my writing sessions, but I enjoy it now.
After all, an interruption is just a pathway to the next great idea.
Keywords: human interest