I never wanted to be a writer. Actually, I do not know what I wanted to be. My childhood and teenage years were fraught with dysfunction and financial constraints and had I the wisdom in my early 20s that I now have, I would have planned a career.
Instead, I took the minimum possible academic load, and escaped to parties and meena bazaars, when I ought to have acquired work experience. I had no inclination towards the sciences, but did well in the art subjects, simply because I wrote well and could stretch a little reading or research into a long essay.
After I graduated, I was at a loss as to what to do with myself and accepting a suggestion from a family friend, I became a contributor to the weekend magazine section of a leading English language daily newspaper. Thus began my experience in ‘public writing’ as I call it, which continued for two years until the birth of my first child.
When I joined the Facebook community nearly 10 years ago, I realised that I loved writing cryptic posts. I became quite consumed too with articulating my thoughts every day, and sometimes even a few times a day.
Now nearly twenty years later I find myself once again ‘public writing’, but this time on my own blog and as a columnist for a weekend magazine of another leading English newspaper, thanks to a lot of encouragement and support from family and friends.
I like to (over) share my thoughts, and I find writing therapeutic, but I have come to realise that simply expressing oneself is not as innocuous or charming a preoccupation as it might seem.
Firstly, there are the usual snags: spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, editing gone awry. On the blog and on Facebook, I am able to address these, as in words and phrases can be altered, added, or deleted at any time, sentences and paragraphs can be rewritten, a piece of writing can be removed too; however, a print edition is final.
I keep reading and rereading my articles in print and thinking with dismay how much better they could have been, if only I had been more focused or if only I had a bit more time.
Secondly, I have no control over how my words will be interpreted. This is because writing entails collecting my thoughts and then assembling the words and sentences to best portray them, but once they are out there, words and phrases seem to acquire their own personalities, and each reader does not necessarily interact with a word or a phrase as I do.
Thirdly, I have no control over what images my writing will evoke. I am predisposed towards observing human behaviour, and I love to engage in social commentary, and it is interesting that when I post or publish, a lot of the readers that I know personally, immediately wonder whom or whom all I am referring to.
As someone who has engaged with psychoanalysis for five years, I am fascinated with the curiosity of wanting to know “who” specifically can fit into my descriptions, because I never refer to exact persons, I refer to patterns of behaviour of many persons, of many generations, across many cultures, that I have observed over a length of time.
Therefore I write about everyone and no one. My thoughts are an interplay of reality, imagination, and emotion, in no particular time frame.
But I am unable to convince many of that. One of my friends even “unfriended” me from Facebook, because she felt many of my posts were about her. At least she was honest about her paranoia. Who? Here we go again.
Fourthly, writing makes me feel guilty because I know that some of my friends and relatives are badgered about my words or descriptions. Why have I written what I have? I know that they cannot even defend me because they do not even know what or whom I am referring to, yet they are subject to interrogation. That is not fair. And it should not be that way.
Lastly, I feel annoyed that my thoughts and words are taken out of context and used to hurt the feelings of others. Some people have no courage to use own their thoughts or words, and use mine with meanings other than what I intended, with malice just to foment trouble. Who? Please don’t.
So why do I keep articulating my thoughts, despite the anxiety it causes? Because it has become a compulsion. Because the social world I see around me is profound in nuances, intense in complexities, and vigorous in dynamics, and I cannot help but attempt to capture and record the fractions of it that I encounter.
As a non-writer engaging in writing, I feel an excitement when I see my thoughts translated into text, but that excitement is intermingled with trepidation, as to what negative reactions my words will inflame within myself, and within others. If you are wondering, this article too is written with angst.
Chintamoni grew up in Dhaka, where she will always belong, but never quite fit in. She is an enthusiastic traveller, a compulsive procrastinator, and a contumelious raconteur