The rendezvous with my passion wasn’t premeditated. Like most of the major milestones in my life, it too happened accidentally.
I was in eleventh standard then; ‘+1’, as it is called back in Chandigarh. Bitten by habit, I was sitting on the first bench right across the teacher’s table. The class was abuzz with the rampant cacophony that persisted till attendance and was drowned only by the commencement of the lecture. Then came our professor, only to deviate from that particular day’s ritual. Instead of beginning with Math, which was her scheduled subject, she read out four themes and asked us to develop a story on either of them, by the end of that class. An on the spot ‘Story Writing Competition’, as it later unfurled. I wouldn’t have been interested in writing, had it not been for that teacher. She was the one whom I deeply respected. The unfathomable faith she showed in my abilities and her continuous encouragement had won her that accolade. After hearing the surprising announcement, I looked up to meet my gaze with her, and was reciprocated with a warm smile, exhibiting confidence. But I thought, this wasn’t math, it was English. The subject I never liked back then because of being always awarded modest marks, by the convent school I hailed from. This however, was a new school, a new beginning. And had it not been for that one soothing smile, I would have continued to be daunted by this colonial gift, the English language, till date. My teacher’s confidence in me made me take a plunge in the area that had never quite successfully been worthy of my attention until then. And so I decided to give it a shot. Upon selecting the theme I was most comfortable with, a plethora of thoughts started darting my mind. Playing with the limitless words and creating witty one liners, I was finally able to articulate them all into my first self-composed literary piece. And to say the least, I was indeed elated by my debutante performance. Having ventured into a new forte, I read and re-read it to friends and family, out of sheer excitement. That piece of prose, though coming from a novice like me, nonetheless, impressed one and all. Yet, one major opinion was left to be sought. The person because of whom I had inked my hands, my dear teacher. She was not only happy but overwhelmed. Having read every child’s composition, she adorned me with the first prize. My mood was only further sweetened when I was asked to give that story for the annual school magazine. My life took a new turn that day. I felt strong on having realized the value of the weapon in my hand. The power of expression which no one could sever from me. It was that day I began writing and there has been no dearth of praises and healthy criticism alike, brimming with encouragement.
But why did I choose to write about writing today, after almost five years of starting?
One important day of my life was then, the account of which I have narrated above. But today another major incident happened. Something that shall henceforth hone the writer in me.
Though, by now I have become quite comfortable with this language, yet never, until today, had I had an opportunity to receive a formal training of English creative writing. Today, perhaps, was a lucky day. Sitting in a Business Communications lecture, amidst a bunch of Commerce students, being taught by an esteemed faculty of the Department of English, it was one deeply enriching experience. I sat quietly, absorbing each and every word to the best of my ability. I knew not the origin of words we use in common parlance, neither, I realized, had I ever paid so much heed to punctuation in my writing. All this had such a profound impact on me. Completely mesmerized I sat with the revelation of such details, which I, a proud writer, had so conveniently afforded to ignore. But with today’s class and with the classes to follow, I am positive that a new writer will be born, and this time not just self-acclaimed but world renowned.
And with my second innings, that today’s tryst with the language, launched, I’m surely in for a joy ride.