My parents weren’t professors, professionals or high achievers.
I was an average Jane for the longest time.
Although I did my schooling in an English medium school, we spoke the language minimally and wrote it essentially as part of our studies. I just knew my tenses and my spellings. Nothing more fancy.
Later in college, I chose literature for my Bachelors because I sucked at science and math. Emboldened by the tidbit prizes I had won in stray contests and a compliment by a relative who had read my embarrassingly amateur poems, I decided - Literature it will be.
However, I didn’t fall in love with poetry, prose or drama as one would have expected. With due respect to the teachers who walked us through the three years, I must say this – I couldn’t appreciate literature and nothing I learned there contributed to whatever I am today. No one showed me the glorious side of poetry or touched on the nuances and said, ‘Look, feel, relish the subtlety in this line’.
I could neither identify a beautiful metaphor nor go euphoric over an imagery. I was probably aesthetically challenged then or my soul hadn’t matured enough. As a result, I merely graduated in English Literature. With neither love nor understanding. My relationship with the subject could at best be described as ‘ambivalent’.
But I loved to read. I loved the new words and fancy phrases that I came across in the bits and scraps I read. They gave me a high. I systematically wrote them down in a diary, revisited them and marveled at their lexical beauty time and again. While I did this, a bond was waiting to establish between the written word and me. I would like to call it some sort of literary serendipity.
Even so, I hadn’t the slightest intention of becoming an author in future. What absurdity! Ordinary people like me didn’t become authors!
Being a writer meant holding enviable academic degrees, having a handful of books in your name, being on the bestselling list, having impressive tags, being talked about by people and a lot more. And that was such a long shot in my estimate. No, ordinary folks didn’t become authors. They merely lurked around writing mushy poems in their diaries, sent stories to women’s magazines and waited for rejection slips all their life. (Who then had even thought of social media and such?)
And then, sometime in the mid 90s, Marquez entered my life. Who Marquez? The ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ guy, of course. I bought a dog-eared copy of the book from a second-hand seller. I carried it with me like the Bible. I sidled through it with great effort, without realizing that I was reading the translation and the language wasn’t originally the writer’s himself. But the book knocked me off kilter. Inspired by it, I was seized by a fever to give expression to my thoughts - in words that created pictures.