I’ll attempt to explain my motivation to start a blog without coming off as entitled or conceited. But in the likely circumstance that I fail, I’d like to apologise in advance.
I’ve always been enamoured by stories and the words that make them. I picked up a popular brand of homegrown comics here in India from a railway platform at the age of 5 ,and never looked back. Tinkle, the comic book that hooked me with it’s stories and characters was but a precursor to the multitude of books I was to meet on my exalted journey. In those times e-books were unheard of and for a lower middle class family that we were, it was inconceivable to satisfy my thirst for novels in more than a cursory way. And though my parents looked at me askance, they did everything in their power to indulge my fascination with books. I was in no way an easy child. Since I was barred from wasting my school hours and the time I should have been concentrating on schoolwork on fictional books, I slyly circumvented that by overlapping all activities that allowed me to indulge in it by reading. For example, I reasoned with my Mum that since the time I take to eat is solely mine, she could’t object to me reading during that time, as long as I finished the meal on time. Same went for my time in the toilet as well as the few minutes I spent travelling to and from school. She was exasperated but couldn’t complain against the sheer willpower of this otherwise unassuming and meek child. I do remember one time that she lost control though. I had managed to smuggle in a novel during my “study time” and assuming I had a few minutes before she returned from some chore I was stealthily reading it with one ear cocked. But I became so absorbed in it that I didn’t realised she had returned and caught me red handed. She flew into a rage and tore the offending book in two, which prompted me to burst into tears. Though to be fair she promptly apologized and promised to buy me a new one soon.
During the time I left Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and the likes in dust and graduated to Sherlock Holmes, Charles Dickens, Jane Eyre, To kill a Mockingbird etc, I fell head over heels in love with the English language. I beckoned me like an illicit drug and promised me more riches in store, moe stories to fall in and rejoice. It also had the happy circumstance of improving my vocabulary far beyond my peers and beyond what my school teachers could comprehend beyond a point.
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my English teachers. Occasionally there were teachers that made me sit up and rejoice in the class, craving for more and more of their wisdom. But as any lover of the English language in India would testify, those moments were rare. At the risk of invoking your disbelief, I can recount occasions where the teacher in my tenth grade English class actually circled words she couldn’t understand in my answer sheet rather than open up a dictionary and educate herself. Whenever I protested, and those occasions were rare, I was told that the board examiners were public school teachers who wouldn’t understand refinement in language anyway, and to curb my instincts while writing. There were also times in other classes I had to physically restrain myself from pointing out that the teacher was wrong and that no, the word did not mean exactly that. But I was fairly idealistic in those times and defiantly let my vocabulary run amok during the tenth standard boards. I think a part of me still believed that there were kindred English professors somewhere that understood me. Fate though handed a tight slap and I scored well below highest marks. It was irony at its cruellest since I outpaced everyone in Science and Maths, even though I didn’t like them. so it came to pass that in the twelfth boards I heeded past experience and heavily censored my answers, tried to find synonyms where I could of weightier words, or banished them entirely from the sentence. The result, a much higher score, though not the highest, but pretty near it.
This disillusioned me to think I could ever make a career out of the English language. This and also the vehement denial I faced from my own parents who stuck by their decision of educating me in the science stream. I, like many kids in India was resigned to my fate of ending up an Engineer.
Many people have over the course of my life have pushed me to take up writing. but I’ve always demurred. I don’t have too many experiences to write about, I said. Or that I didn’t have enough skills or enough time, whatever suited my mood. But I’ve come to recognise these statements for what they are, excuses. Fear of failure and acceptance no longer holds me captive. I’m twenty five years old and that’s quarter of a century gone. If I don’t indulge in the one thing that makes me happy, then when will I ! Hence this blog is hopefully a start to many useful and not so useful, pointless and valuable ramblings from me in the future. For I’ve finally realized, I don’t write to be accepted by others but by myself.