How many times was she told she shouldn’t? How many of those things were actually those she couldn’t? Did they know how they broke her, when she wouldn’t?
We’ve all been told to not do something, because we’re not particularly good at it. I never learned to swim, because I drowned too many times trying. I thought I was a bad cook because the first batch of tea I made was too bitter. I wouldn’t dare to sing because my voice did something funny when it hit those higher registers that my vocal chords couldn’t surmount. I almost gave up dancing, the only exercise my limbs didn’t protest against, because my body wasn’t nearly as flexible as my ballerina peers.
But, the worst act of quitting I succumbed to was when I abandoned writing. I stopped before I even began, because I had been told so many times by so many people to stop doing so many things I loved, that I didn’t want them to tell me I was bad at this one thing, too: the one thing that made me happier than anything else I’ve ever tried.
When I wrote, I wrote in secret. I have scores of poems, notes, stories, even plays — both unfinished and otherwise that I haven’t dared to show anyone, even my closest friends and family members. I wrote for no audience, save a creature I fashioned out of the cheap threads of my imagination and called my muse. For his amusement alone I wrote, to him alone I cried when my work was criticized. I wrote to him, of him, for him, with him, forming a dysfunctional relationship that has sustained my art through the years. His silent approval is all my fragile ego can handle.
I have checked none of the boxes on that universal list of qualities that everyone expects a writer to possess. I had no major tragedy that should have altered my life and made me stronger than the Average Jane. I AM the Average Jane, who lived in the average middle class suburban household in a city where I lived sheltered from the awesome experiences it offered its other citizens. My imagination is no casino machine, no bountiful spring, no exploding firecracker that lights up someone’s darkened sky. My fantasies are as mundane as the ticking of a slow clock, the drip-drip-drip of a leaky faucet, the yawn of a lazy dog that the quick brown fox jumped over. My vocabulary lies on the wrong side of the scale of eloquence. My style is imitative of the manner in which a railway announcer speaks: apologetic of both delays and the annoyance caused by having to lend one’s ears to his voice.
I have, however, decided to put an end to this pity party. Chaar baj gaye, lekin, ab kar chalna tu shuru. This blog is the emotional and artistic equivalent of me finally learning to swim. I’m jumping in to the shallow end of the pool (cluck cluck, I’m a chicken), sans any flotation device to keep me from sinking to the bottom. I will try not to let my terrible insecurities and anxieties about being liked and appreciated by every shiny flower and tadpole make me press that backspace key. I’ll write and I’ll be.
I should, I can, and so I will.