The first thing most people ask me is, “How did you develop a passion for writing?” I smile and say, “It just happened when I was in high school.” Little did people know the whole story. I still remember the story, “The Missing Mail” by R K Narayan in my high school. I wrote the continuation for that story, and my English teacher called me after the class and said, “You would become a great writer. You have right amount of creativity and linguistic skills, and I am sure you should consider writing seriously.” The teenage-me was proud about the compliment, but never took it seriously. She never gave up on me; she started suggesting me things to read. From Famous Five & Nancy Drew, I started to read Shakespeare and Jane Austen, from Hardy boys and Wisdom, I moved to read Sidney Sheldon and Dan Brown. She asked me to enroll myself in every debate, story telling, essay writing, and other literary events. She made me participate in a national level story writing contest, which made me connect with other equally-talented teenage writers. She and another English ma’am (in fact the principal of my school, during my time) spoke a lot to me about literature, poems, and the likes.
There were times when I bunked science and social classes in the name of “On-Duty” and sat in the staff room or library to discuss about a book, drama, or sonnet. I started developing a love for the language, and then one fine day, after two years, she left our school. I was back to square one, no motivation, and parental pressure to be a doctor or an engineer. I didn’t know what to do. Suddenly there was an empty space in my mind & in my heart. I quit reading, and English was just another subject. Then, there was another English teacher (my principal, who knew about my talent and passion for the language): she asked me to channelize my passion effectively. She made me contribute for the school magazine, newspapers, and the likes. She put my name in the school magazine editorial board. Whenever there was a press coverage, she made sure that I got to talk to the newspaper reporters and editors. Despite being the principal, she allowed me and other students to participate in so many literary events outside school even in our 12th grade. Again, when I finished 12th, I was clueless.
My dad gave me just one option: Engineering, there were no two ways about it. I took engineering, still I tried to keep my passion alive, by reading and writing. There were two English teachers at the college, who gave me a moral support. They encouraged me to be part of the literary club, conduct competitions, compere, host, and above all, write. When I was 20, my best friend called me and said, “I have an acquaintance who is looking for a content writer, and I am not sure what it means, but you write well, so do you want to try?” Even I was clueless what being a content writer was. Just for the heck of writing and getting paid for it, I gave it a try. Who would say no if your passion gets you some pennies?
It’s been more than four years now, I gave up one IT and one HR job, both by big banners, for writing as a career. I announced to my family that I want to write, and that is all I want to do with my life for a living. They obliged, after some intial worrisome queries. Now after 10+ years from that “The Missing Mail” story epilogue, and 4+ years from my first writing job, I have tried various forms of writing: fictional, creative, reviews, marketing, academic, scientific, etc. I still improve everyday, for learning is inevitable. Writing and reading seems to be correlated, albeit not being causational. Thus, I read a lot too (my book reviews column make it evident, don’t they?)
There are days when I feel writers’ block, and I deeply wish how nice it would have been if one of those 4 teachers were with me to motivate, especially my 9th grade English ma’am. One of the teachers (my principal) reached the Almighty’s adobe. It was heart-shattering moment. I don’t know where the rest are, but I miss them every single day. I wish they hear it when someone compliments my story, I wish they smile when I talk to myself in between those scribbling sessions, I wish they hugged me when my first book was selected to be published, and I wish they cleared all those numerous-tiny-little-not-so-important queries about the language.
My mom always chides me playfully that, “If God appears in front of you and makes you ask just one wish, you will ask to travel lifelong.” As much as she knows me, and as much as the deal is lucrative, that is definitely not what I will ask. I would ask, “Please make me go back to my high school for once and allow me to sit in my English ma’am’s class, so I can adore the way she danced and thought me the Palenquin bearers poem.”
This one is for you ma’am! Wherever you are, I know your blessing are there for me. Love you, ma’am.
In case, if my readers are wondering why I am having this emotional outburst today, here is the reason: