The Unseen Boundaries

Writing is my favourite form of creative expression. Yet, there are invisible boundaries that make me too aware of the lines that are drawn in our minds through our culture and the circumstances of life. What we experience, we crystallise within. We become what we have thought about and done. And the ‘thought about’ is governed in a large way by our demographic profiles and our ethnicity.

For a long time, writing was something I denied myself. It was a pleasure and it was tremendous potential and it meant limitless possibilities. It was also a mirror to my soul. I was busy untangling the knots in my consciousness and really, the tangles in the subconscious had to wait. Unbidden and unknowingly, the boundaries hemmed me in, without my really knowing because I did not let those influences be expressed or given wings to.

In trying to find my meaning, I embraced many places and people. I felt I was getting new eyes and different perspectives, but what was left unexpressed and unexplored was perhaps the strongest perspective of all.

And then, the writing happened. And the music. I started seeing cultural motifs everywhere. I felt that it was an anthropological interest that appealed to me intellectually, but I soon felt drawn to my culture more and more. Was I in search of my roots? Was I really trying to create an identity after all? Wasn’t an identification with mankind enough? An understanding of the basic human values were not shield enough for my culture to permeate itself in my consciousness.

Till today, I try to write in a gender, age and cultural background vacuum. But, am I not really how my culture has shaped me? Increasingly, I feel the longing to touch the silken strands of a paranda, a hair adornment that I have never worn in my urban lifestyle. When the poetess Amrita Pritam laments the loss of innocence, calling out to Waris Shah, I can feel her pain and of the numerous other women, who all are dressed in salwar kameez, heads covered with colourful dupattas, perhaps fleeing the murderers. Saadat Hasan Manto writes of the trauma of the partition of Punjab, something my generation never had to contend with. But I sit at my grandmother’s knee and listen to those horrific tales, their lustre dimming as her age and memory has. Increasingly, in my journals, I turn to a phrase that’s evocative of the cultural imagery I have encountered in my land of birth. I listen to a dirge, sung mournfully and I know I want to be reborn here.

My cultural limitations are pushing me towards delving deeper into the influences that have shaped me and prompting me to write from my soul. Unacknowledged, they make my writing voice false.

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Day 30 of Nablopomo

What happens when you commit to something?
What happens when you follow it through with passion and conviction?
What happens when you write every day?
In short, what happens when you participate in Nablopomo, and reach the end and have a ‘I Did It’ post to write?

A few things happen:

Commitment itself is reward. It is empowering and exhilarating. It is opening the door to potential and inviting your resources in to make it happen.

Once you are determined to see things through, no matter what, paths open up, obstacles dissolve, divine help materializes.

Dreams coupled with preparation lead to magic.

Your craft improves. You get to the place you are going faster. You discover your shortcomings and strengths and that is just so good because you know what to improve and what to capitalize on.

You start dreaming bigger because you could do this, so you could definitively do more.

You are happy and want to shout ‘I Did It’ or modesty resolve to go for higher peaks (depending on your personal disposition).

And as befits any speech, I must end with a note of thanks to my readers, dedicated followers, other excellent writers, my children who insisted on coming down with fever every few days, having birthdays and school concerts so that I was more determined than ever, WordPress mobile apps which made publishing possible in view of erratic internet connections and my tablet for providing the hardware and psychological support. Ah! also my spouse for going on a business tour so that I could feed the children instant noodles and write.

P.S. I am tempted to continue the writing streak, but I spared a thought for my followers who might already be feeling exasperated.