Were Plato, the great Athenian philosopher of the Classical age living through this pandemic, he would have proposed to banish from this world all my fellow poets, writers and artists of other sorts, including myself, while propagating the message, “Art is useless.”
When the world needs healthcare workers, farmers, scientists and researchers most of all, there are moments I cannot help feeling rather useless.
“Is sitting at home contribution enough?” I question myself.
Doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers have jumped into the wildfire of Covid-19 to save the world from burning down. Despite the disruption in the agricultural industry, farmers and producers are working tirelessly to provide for us. Delivery workers have emerged as frontline soldiers, supplying food, toilet-paper and hand sanitisers. There are teachers, corporate employees, IT managers, financial analysts and accountants doing their jobs from home to help the system run despite the standstill. Journalists have braved great dangers to cover the pandemic up close so that we may sit more informed on our comfortable couch. Countless individuals have made donations to help fight the pandemic while countless others have taken on themselves the economic dip, all to prevent the virus from spreading.
Then I take a look at myself. A girl of 23, sitting at home, jobless, writing a poem or two, writing slowly her novel everyday, but not doing any good to the world. Read more
You, when first you came by, you were little and solitary. You refused my company, perhaps out of haughtiness and pride? But I wouldn’t blame you, for you, indeed, were most lovely, being the only living thing amidst my table and chair made of dead teak, and my books and papers of dead pine and eucalyptus.
Your fragrance drew me to you like a butterfly lover. Your calming green caught my fancy, it did. Your silent presence comforted me. I came to you with stories of sunny romances, I watered you with my tears shed upon lost lovers, I even sprinkled your soil with my sighs and kisses, and I serenaded you in the quiet of the night.
You were a patient listener, a friend I never had. You opened up to me, one tiny leaf at a time.
You taught me the grace of silent growth.
You showed me the beauty in solitude.
You whispered to me the secret of being – to embrace the soil where one is planted, to be the most beautiful being that soil ever knew.
You told me then that being alone isn’t so bad, when in truth you have you.
Today, as I turn another year older, I take a journey inward to reflect on how I’ve reached this moment, this very now, this writerly path that expands so beautifully and promisingly before my eyes.
I was born on a cold February morning exactly 23 years ago, and mother tells me I was so pink that I could have passed for a peach (uncommon in the warm clime of India).
Growing up in the lap of nature amidst the hills and the lake of Nainital, a small but serene touristy town in India, I discovered beauty in the simple pleasures of life. And I believe nature somewhere brought me nearer to my writerly self.
I admit that I was somewhat mischievous during my younger years, hiding at lunch time, putting my elder sister in trouble now and then, pestering my parents with the same question – why don’t duck-shaped boats have feet?
In the years that followed, when I was about eight, I turned more solitary, often seen collecting soft, fluffy feathers from parks and streets, keeping to myself in secluded, shadowy corners of the house, questioning the shape of a great oak in front of my balcony, writing childish, perhaps nonsensical poems, maintaining a notebook of thoughts. But there was another me, existing simultaneously – one who would look for acceptance, who would often be seen joking and laughing, yet one who wasn’t sure of herself. I was timid but I taught myself to grow.
I am among the lucky few for whom the growing up years were all yellow and pink and orange. When adolescence arrived my way, I gently made room for changes. There was never a need for a teenage rebellion – the environment at home was change-friendly.
It was during my late teens that I slowly started coming closer to myself. My grades at school were going on a downward journey while my passion for reading and writing was ever blooming. I took to visiting the school library and read from Shakespeare to Austen to Tolstoy. I wrote a musical.
I grew from a quiet child to a confident, also stubborn young girl. I made friends with the stage and spotlight – one could often find me there, acting or debating or delivering speeches. And I could still be found there, sometimes.
Then university happened and with that happened my first encounter with literature not as an ephemeral pleasure but as something deeper and more substantial. Earlier, I was letting the wind decide my course, now, I was anchoring my own sails. I knew writing was for me, as I was for writing.
After graduating the year before, I worked as a journalist, hoping my job would help me earn a decent living as a struggling writer. But work demanded too much of me, without letting me be myself. I was losing myself, I was losing the person I saw myself as. Only last month, after much contemplation, I left the comforts of a well-paying job to write my novel. Now I leave for Nainital, my beautiful, snowy hometown which is the only muse this hopeful writer needs.
And so, as I welcome the 23rd year of my existence, I hope to not look at my many losses and pains, my few regrets of not having written more sincerely earlier, my one terrible, and hopefully only heartbreak and my anxiety about how far I may have to journey on before finding repose.
Instead, I look at how far I’ve walked already and at the promises the future holds. At the priceless gift of family and friends, my dear mother, father and sister. At this one beautiful boy (more a man by age) whom I’ve always cared for. And at being given yet another year of this beauty called life.