For the last few years, the only question that has visited me day and night with an intensity no candela can measure is how to be a writer.
The answer eludes me even now. I know it is not in the books. I know it is not in the writing programs; neither in workshops, discussions, interviews, or biographies.
You see, it is a personal thing. When you decide to be a writer, it is not a choice at all. As they say, choice is a luxury. We don’t have that luxury when it comes to two things – writing and love. They both are absolute.
Do not mistake this for the love for writing, though. The love for writing is another luxury. I don’t think I, or anyone who has to be a writer, can own this, either. Writing cannot be an emotion for someone who seeks to be a writer. It has to be their whole existence.
A writer is that crack in the old floorboard. For someone else it is just a slight wreck, but to him it is an abyss and the abyss is him. It hides a story, a fragment of time when things were in their infancy. It wasn’t this shallow then. It wasn’t so dark then. And it certainly didn’t creak.
A writer is that stubborn tree, which is yet to give up on its roots. He is the yellowing leaf looking out to embrace the ageing of its fate. He is the wandering clouds abounding with the weight of hope, struggling to reach the right place before it detonates.
A writer is the hunger pangs arising in the stomach of the famished. He is the shriveled skin burnt under too much sunshine. He is the teardrops about to be lost without being seen. He is the muffled voices that died before the light broke in.
He is those small, heavy steps of an old woman who everyday carries a tokra full of vegetables on her head to sell it in the local market so that she can survive in a world that has outdated her.
And hope? Promises? Laughter? Happiness?
What about things he cannot accommodate himself to? What about sorrows that overwhelm his wits and melancholy that erodes his mind?
Does the writer have anything to do with all these?
Because when a writer sees these, he becomes a poet.
He grows a heart, builds a song.