I write because it is a form of self-expression which is sacred ground for me. I firmly believe that everybody has a duty to bring his own unique talents to help others and self expression is the first step in that direction. I venerate all activities that reflects a person’s inner self.
At various times in my life, I have been in awe of, and even jealous of sculptors, painters, cooks, potters, cinematographers, calligraphers and of course, writers. I was and still am respectful of anyone who is engaged in doing something productive with a streak of creativity. I feel they are doing their lives’ work and I am somehow neglecting mine. They have a passion and a direction and that is the road to contentment.
My cultural upbringing teaches me about barriers, limitations, the right way and the only way of doing things. It teaches me to walk the middle path, to be moderate in thought and behaviour (I separate it from equanimity which is important to practice), to be afraid of anything spectacular, to be wary of magnificent successes, to temper my effort and to believe in time’s healing power. I am told to be adapting, to always try to understand the other viewpoint (rather than explore my own for defects), to serve, to empathise, to nurture (others more than myself).
I carried these impressions and unwritten rules through different phases of life. I became accustomed to adapting and understanding. It also meant that gradually I lost a large part of myself. I became an amalgamation of others’ thoughts and viewpoints. It was tiring, always to be looking over others’ shoulders, participating in their reminiscences, anticipating their reaction and thinking their thoughts. I was stirring other’s soup. People closest to me became my identity. I was divided into roles, known by the hats I wore.
I was grieved because I was no longer known by my eccentric brush strokes, by my eclectic pottery, colours and collections. I forgot the taste of my own food. I was not known by my choice of words, a pick of the sardonic, a choice of the subtle. I was not known for my unique creative process. I was known for the relationships I nurtured, the children I raised, the house I kept, the job I had and the community I contributed to.
I was only ‘doing’; there was no space to ‘be’. And ‘being’ constituted the rejection of all social labels.
I sharpened my pencils, spread the table with sheets of paper-coloured, ruled, plain. And wrote. I found myself at last….