A QUEST WITH AN UNANSWERED QUESTION
FIRST EPOCH: THE THREE WANTS
At first, writing was but a profession. A mere response to people asking ‘what do you want to become in life? How would you want to ‘earn’ your livelihood (note: ‘earn’ refers to earning a livelihood in terms of money, not satisfaction or joy). I considered broad before I could answer. I staggered across vast deserts and sailed through undulating ocean waves; stumbled over wild roots that carpeted the sable ground of a dense jungle. (no, what I really mean is that I considered becoming a painter, a scientist, a robotic engineer, and even a doctor at first, although my heart didn’t agree)
In the end, I landed at a place I wanted to be – with words and fables! But it was queer – both the choice (Writing fables!) and the coincidence. True, it had been a coincidence that I landed, I assume, at the right place. For in truth, such a seeking journey must not have been wide across the Earth as I did, but deep inside my heart.
But even yet, I did not know what it meant; for, gold is not found when it hasn’t been dug out from depths. The only things that attracted me to the choice were shallow dances that flit across the ground in gleaming rainbow flames when the brilliance of real light is reflected off a diamond. And I was drawn to the dance of the light-lings, without ever appreciating that there was, behind it, a full light and a diamond!
And so, in those early stages, I knew writing to be an enticing ‘profession’, a merry acquaintance with words, and fascinating stories that were yet to build a spire of inspiration to be beheld when fully built. And it was also a means for something else. I confess with guilt now, that, the parade of successful writers who earned the respect of a flashy red-carpet, and the eulogies of admiring readers from across the continents, and most of all, a flight ticket from country to country, and an effortless travel across beautiful places up and below the equator, drew me unseemly to adopt it as a career. This was my most ignorant of requests from an art, I knew not then to be sacred.
But this was never- not even in those amateur days- the only prospect that transfixed me in the decision, like a whole planet held by gravity. Even then, a slightly nobler aspiration had been to acquire the strength of an immutable voice that is gifted to a writer. A voice to be heard by the ears of men living yonder leagues across, through all the gushing roars of throngs of men. A writer had a voice, made entirely of silence, that spoke louder than any utterance of the tongue. And I wanted from the voice of these words, the power to help ailing men scattered across the globe; to spread a change.
And there was yet another wish to be fulfilled. The third request from authorship was a name in the cover of a book that would exist through time, gathering dust on the shelves even after my mortal life had fled. I wanted my thoughts to be sighed out into the air with which my own breath had long ceased to mingle. I wanted the power of immortality that it granted.
These were the earliest of my wants, forceful wants then. But had I only realized at that time, as I do now, that these were all, solely hollow treasures…
My wants had been all destination, and never the journey that is writing itself! And the most wondrous of things about being the spirit of a river is that it meanders through the deep undergrowth of forest lands and gracefully gushes down a misty precipice and savors the luxuriant taste of a desert soil. Its final destination, in itself, is only a point on the Earth, but its journey is the whole world! And writing, is exactly like that – it flows.
And why not – only when the writer is a river do his words flow. When a writer is a soldier, drilling in his mind, only the thoughts of a distant victory, then his words know only to march… and leave behind only dusty footsteps to feed the wind.
To be continued…
(Image courtesy: Pinterest)
© 2018 Sahana Narendran