Writing, like my Charcoal drawing has a mind of her own.
If she wants to be formed, my fingers will move.
Illegible scratches bear testimony, of many a day of struggle.
For if she does not want, she will not be.
In the beginning….
I was 20 years old or thereabouts. The doctor had said that my nephrons needed help. “My nephrons” is something my kidney takes offense to. It is theirs they say! Ok, I accept defeat. I was admitted to a single ward in the hospital. The nephrons of my kidneys had swollen and were spewing things they shouldn’t have been. “Five days”, the stern-faced doctor announced. So there I was, on my bed, alone and facing a vast space that seemed to stretch into nothingness. Wait! Vast space? I could spot a massive wall in the distance. Military training grounds or a tennis practice wall? I had the whole day and night and five of them to decipher the mystery.
Night falls and I suddenly wake up from my stupor to lights dancing on my eyelids. The far-away mystery wall has come alive. Tiny droplets of dark seemed to be sliding slowly against the big blue blob stains on the wall. Drive-in-theater! That’s what it was. Where we had once parked our old Fiat car, got out excitedly, and then gingerly placed the heavy speakers on the side of the car windows. Picnic and movie under the stars.
This is the earliest memory I have of the writings I did. The dancing light and far away emptiness had inspired a short poem, hastily written in an old diary. As I wrote, the pain that had begun a few months back had taken backstage. The pain that had begun with the discovery of blood-stained flows in the bathroom in a faraway land in a women’s hostel. It had left me disoriented and disgruntled- it took me away from friends and fun. The persistent nag as I dragged through life and college, found its retribution in expression -words. Words unrelated to the pain I experienced and the confusion I felt. Words lifting me into a world of their own.
The pain now carried just itself and not me.
Slowly over time, the diary starts filling up. Traces of my life in short staccato start appearing, its nuances understandable only to that heart which wrote, guarded away from prying eyes. They carried me through my young meandering adulthood. It seemed to me that I wrote when I didn’t understand. Or maybe I wanted to be understood. I wrote in pain and hurt. Intense, the writings, like my emotions created a world of their own. It was my salvation.
…then there was a slow burst
The whirl of life takes over. I am pulled through the tornado, and time becomes a tussle. Words shrivel away, a memory that at once feels warm but also conjures anger. For I have abandoned them to walk in the parallel dimly lit path as I glide through the neon lights.
I picked them back up. Or so I thought. In reality, she picked me back up. My writings. For she had a mind of her own. She would not move all through my years of motherhood, wifehood, and daughter-in-law hood. I would pick up every available instrument-a pen, a pencil, a computer, but the words would not thread themselves. They would not form. I came to believe the cacophony I heard from around me, as well-meaning friends said it would be difficult to write….my education as an engineer, my analytical personality, and my profession as a strategic HR head would make it difficult to write. Creativity was sacrificed at the altar of societal norms and conformance.
The words age, losing their angst, getting more graceful
Slowly but surely, hesitant short sentences came up, as I entered the years that afforded some time and space. It was her again. She was easing me back into who I may have been.
Knowing not to shock me into a world long forgotten, she caressed me gently. A few sentences scribbled hastily onto the back cover of a book I was reading, inspired by the deeply contemplative character of the protagonist. Once words typed deliberately into the phone, as the flame of the earthen lamp made me think about the life of the little fire dying out yet useful in its death too.
Or the time she insisted I look into a photo that a friend had shown me, for the second time, and spot his sadness and pen a few lines. Every time inspired by an emotion that left me reflective. Sometimes triggered by someone else’s story told simply. She held my hand and formed the words. Diligently she stayed with me, cajoling me when I was scared, forcing me when I resisted but always allowing me to be me. She released me to feel others and merge into my thoughts .
I share these fragments of half stitched sentenced with my siblings. I come out and take the courage not to hide. They find the words heavy and context unrelatable. And so closes the next chapter of writing.
They totter onto the life stage once more, with cheerleaders all around
I smile when I think of the evening three weeks back. I stumble over myself, as I find the answer box to say yes to the writing project that had been announced. The best decision in the last few months. She had been lying gently in wait for this moment, she once again held my fingers, crawled into my mind space, and danced through the words weaving, which for me, felt like magic.
Today as I sit here, posting this article here, I fondly think of the wall that inspired me, the diary that held my emotions, and the words that took me through life.
I write, for that space is me
No intruders and no judgments
For she chooses it to be that way
Photo Credit: Min An from Pexels.com
Theme credit: A cheerleader classmate from the writing project workshops.