I have heard different people speaking about ‘why they write.’
Some of them write to make the world a more equitable place, some because they see stories all the time and cannot help telling them, some to get their agonies assuaged, some due to a sense of dutifulness….the reasons are as varied as the types of human beings around us. And that is quite a lot.
I have been harshly told not to write ( Only ‘bad’ women write- do you know how men look at them? Do you? Do you?),asked mockingly why I bothered to write ‘if you were going to be published by such low key publishers’ (What is the use of writing something if nobody reads it, eh?), asked if I had the talent enough to write something at all ( She thinks she is a great writer, I do not think so. ), whether I should not be spending that time doing something more worthwhile ( Women have a lot of stuff to do, right?),laughed at for not attempting a novel ( You are not capable of that, are you really?), etc etc…
At my age, I don’t give a damn anymore.
So let me tell you a story. Of how I ended up meeting one of the most brilliant women that I have ever seen. We had dinner together in a nice restaurant and both she and my younger daughter fell sick afterwards! The paneer, ( yes, made of milk remnants) had been bad, and they got infected. The rest of us, who had shunned that dish and indulged in other delicacies hadn’t been affected.
I took a week off from work. And in that one week of looking after a recuperating child, I ended up translating my friend’s taut and stunning novella- full of imageries of milk turning bad in time, symbolising love turning malicious. When the effect of the poisoned paneer had finally left them both, I gave my friend the first draft. Serendipity had turned a milky white mysterious angel. She loved it and then promptly asked me to ‘ sit and polish it as hard as you can.’
The fact that I was a novice in the publishing industry helped me to ignore the naysayers early on. I am a career bureaucrat, and I deal with high temperamental personalities every day of my life. Well, that learned immunity to unsolicited negativity, helped with the less than positive comments about my translation, as it was shown around initially.
‘Burn with the script as a writer.Improve it with sweat and blood!’ She should have been a military commander; my friend. I do not know if I burnt anything in the process, but I have always enjoyed a challenge.
That translated novel has now been released. If I look back, it all started with the milk turning sour…
So, why do you write?
Because…come let us write another one.
Yesterday, someone gifted me six Hindi classics. Four books of Harishankar Parsayi and two of Premchand.
My little girl pointed out that she had already studied a short story of Premchand: Eidgaah. Her Amma was going to ‘study’ it only now!
‘Amma, please ask me if you do not understand it, ok?’
I smiled readily. With utmost pleasure, my darling.