Why do I Write?

Earlier in the day, very early on in fact, the mind settled on a single word as a cue for the day. In the course of exchanges with a friend, the word cropped up a few times lately and yesterday as I watched the bougainvillea curve into a dip under the weight of violently pink flowers, it settled into an easy prompt. Often the word stays fluttering behind my mind’s curtain until threads start to appear and I can begin to weave it into a poem or a snatch of prose. There is no purpose save to see where a word or thought might go left on the wind. And then, it gathers unto itself something of an energy to become a piece that is self-sufficient. It mostly writes itself with very little intervention from my end, save a little rearranging like one might attempt with flowers in a vase.

Curve was meant to be the word today until I was asked, “Do you see your writing as an end in itself?

I suppose so. It wasn’t always so. Even now, sometimes it slips into a means rather than an end but that is reserved for my journals.

For many years, I didn’t consider myself a writer simply since I did not publish anything (blogs didn’t really count). I still haven’t done so. It was mostly in the nature of unpacking thoughts that would refuse to go beyond a point in the mind or then to capture a moment or how it felt or appeared. These remained private, anonymous and a way of making sense through the years. The form it took was mainly entries scribbled in journals and the odd poem or a patch of prose. These have been scattered in papers, notebooks, screens and pretty much anything that could be a writing surface. They’re coloured with the textures of my days and in retrospect I see changes that have happened as well as an intrinsic basic nature. It was and continues to be a way of discovering myself and allowing the thoughts to flow. These have led to explosive breakthroughs although the intent was never about using it as a means. The outcome just seemed to happen. I burnt my journals written until the age of 27 when I decided I didn’t want to look back. There are some old letters that I had written which have survived and somehow happened to fall in my possession.

Blogging was a tentative exploration and the initial few were to save my words somewhere lest I lose the papers in the process of moving homes many times. A few years ago, I decided to document my running journey as a means to keep me accountable to myself and discovered that it became an accompaniment to the sport. Running fed the blog and vice versa. I also discovered the joys of having someone read what I wrote. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that they connected enough for a two-way conversation.

Yoga came back to my life soon after and another blog was born and the two were primarily to document my journey so that another who might struggle with these things as a beginner might benefit. I also discovered my voice and that of others who began to read those musings. It was just a way to document my personal experience, subjective as it might be. Running was lost after a few years and around the same time, sarees made a re-entry into my life and through them, an entire world of memories. I found that the humble piece of clothing that had been a staple when I was younger also became an anchor for musings, mostly quiet reflections about the mundane every day. Maybe a witnessing of living in the now and how it has never quite been too far away from the past and the future. Lately though, that is also dwindling and I find myself withdrawing into the format of a letter.

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Something about sarees that makes it so easy to meander in thoughts. the lines on this cotton ikat remind me of the pages of a notebook.

Perhaps, it is a way to reclaim time, find a pause and release where instant communication is the norm. Does an experience cease to have significance if it is dated? Letters make it possible to pause in the present to share of myself in the moment and send it into an unknown time and place. I like the act of writing to one person and that is how I like to relate to the outside at present. The appeal of this format lies in its dispatch, once gone it is truly gone from my memory until a reply, if and when it came, jogged some of the contents. It also feels natural considering that it used to be a way of sharing myself as a very young adult, long before the time of facebook and texts. Of course in these days of a pandemic, I take pictures and send them on since the postal service has been disrupted.

Now, the three weave in and out of each other and their boundaries are blurred. And in a sense it has become a practice, much like my yog sadhana, a continuous striving with no end in mind, just the act of endeavouring. Call it a studentship maybe? Occasionally, there are aha moments when a sentence or a pose come together effortlessly but that’s nodded at, acknowledged and it’s back to working on the art.

Writing for me is an intensely solitary act of silence. It feels like painting in a sense, brush strokes of a present truth that are rarely edited simply to keep the truth of the moment of its birthing, both conscious and unconscious. There are crafted pieces too but the spontaneous fragments remain my favoured children. Most of what finds its way as a complete picture or a profile of one are raised from a pool of rememberings, colourings and learnings. It is a sum of all I have experienced, imagined or heard. There used to be a time in my younger days where I feared that all the thoughts were already thought, all the beautiful sentences had already been written before. I feared having my words resemble that of other writers and not being original but that perhaps was an insecurity of an immature writer. Writing just for myself released me to let the words flow through me as they deemed fit.

If I had to have a framework for my craft, it would be Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram. Simplicity and restraint are the checks that I like to use in language. As much as writing is for my pleasure, it also gives me happiness when others respond to what I write from their own recollections. The biggest joy is when young ones find something useful and beautiful and true in my words.

So, why then do I write?

I write to wrap a hint of myself in the act, an act of ego perhaps, to mark this blip of a presence.

I write because I feel through words all that I may not necessarily be able to experience.

I write because there is pleasure in seeing words come together to create something familiar and new at once.

I write because the act of writing is a deeply sensuous one, an act of giving completely of myself.

I write because I cannot not write.

A reader’s writing

I’ve been a reader since I was 8 or 9 and discovered that I could lose myself in the written word. There was no need to navigate people and situations with a book, one could live suspended in another’s world. It’s been many years and the act of reading has been a faithful one. Some years, I read fiction, some mythology, still others biographies and for many, I studied ancient texts. It has been an unending love affair with books. The finishing of a few of them have been an aching loss while others have been dipped into again and again.

Now that many years have passed since that first children’s book, I find that there is a maturing of the reader too, a coming of age. I thought the grown up books I read as an adolescent made me adult and worldly but I found that one needs the experience of living, loving and losing to truly taste language in all its multi hued nuances. I just finished an expansive volume on Kama by Gurcharan Das, a modern unpacking of desire and it unleashed many words inside that I didn’t know existed. Words of poetry or philosophy, I know not. Can they be both? Where does one end and the other begin or have they no boundaries? Maybe they’ll surface here, maybe not but I do hope they are found after I am gone.

Leaving with a musing that wrapped many layers from the colour of my saree to the book I read…

Half and Half

Ascetic. Erotic.
Blue Bodies

Half of him is her
Half of her is him

Upward. Downward.
One mind

Half of her is him
Half of him is her

Bound. Unbound.
Forever free

Half of him is him
Half of her is her

A night of songlight

An old saree picture and a scribble for a Saturday

Shakin Stevens is crooning because I love you, it must be from the house with the boy. It’s the radio playing, nice. I should play the radio too.

Unbreak my heart now and Toni Braxton sounds soulful and sensual all at once. I slip out of my dark bed and stand unseen behind the curtains in my bedroom. I think I see the man-boy’s shorts. It is him and he stands behind the curtains of his room.

I’m lost in this pointless moment where two people stand behind curtains looking and not looking. I’m a voyeur while he’s trapped in a wordless mind. His days are mostly spent on a dusty terrace where he makes distressed animal sounds and ranges like a wild one.

Now it’s James Blunt on that radio, my mind drifts to the firstborn. It’s our song, the one she uses to deflect my telling her she’s beautiful. Mais oui, she is!

It’s midnight and I’m still enjoying the music. They are strains of my youth coming out through a busted speaker. I think of getting the radio from the Kid’s room to mine and playing the same channel but somehow this is better, a tenuous intimacy between unseen people.

The volume is down now, maybe the father has retired for the night and the boy still needs song. The neighbour’s air conditioning has stopped its loud whirring and Leo has found his pillow on my arm.

Let her go by Passenger spikes up the volume. I wonder if anyone else is enjoying this night of mushy love, unrequited love. They no longer make me yearn for languorous lovemaking but wash over like a pleasant breeze.

Their window is shut now and I can only hear faint crests and troughs of music. A cue to fall asleep but I’m still listening.

The radio is silent now and I’m wide awake…

Instagram memories

I’ve had many blogs over many years, always zealously private until something started to loosen up. Perhaps it was a sense of growing older and figuring out all of us had the same loves and losses. We guard our secrets from friends and family but let them tumble in front of strangers.

Some of my ramblings have been like this space, a kind of chatting over coffee and some have been anonymous journals of solitary roads that could be found only by those travelling similar paths. Most of the time, these writings are invisible and it’s only ever an offering. The words may flow through my pen or screen but their authorship comes from a source that has no beginning and no end.

It felt good to be acknowledged by someone who has been a practitioner for more years than I may ever be and a writer to boot. So, someone may be reading my musings after all. It’s a humbling moment and one of joy too. My next instinct is to duck under and hibernate until every one disappears. It’s the paradox of a solitary passion, the necessity of silence and the desire to be heard. Have I shared too much… Blame the grey day.

The youngling and I have time on our hands now and I imagine there is no school. In this make believe world, we spend cocooned days learning new words and making new ones up while not climbing trees or running free. Sometime during the pretend day, we will sip on a Pink soda with a dash of lime, kind of like today’s pop pink and lime green khesh and her tee.

Little K has got the mischief back in her eyes after a long snooze and will be a whirling mass of energy before I know it. Thank you for all your love and warmth, that’s just the magic we needed. .

📷courtesy: the youngling

– written in February 2018