I often get a question: “How do you write?” It has a wide range of connotations: “How do you get such thoughts?”; “How can you find time to write?”; or just “Why the hell you stress yourself after a workday? Don’t you get tired ?” The answer is simple for me. I write because I write; I cannot do otherwise. I cannot live without writing. It is not about writing a blog or writing online. Writing online is kind of a perversion, because I cannot write on-paper for many reasons. Writing online has its benefits too; I get a quick response and I can refine my thoughts if there is any odd thinking.
I never knew myself for years that I can write. I was a reader; reading for my own pleasure. I never understood at what time my reading changed from “just reading” to “a reading experience.” At some point in my reading career, without even knowing myself, I started interpreting things in my own way. And I started to realize whatever I had read until then was just a reading practice for the years to come. Earlier, I used to devour hundreds of pages in a day, but it was just a preparation. Till then, I hated poetry. I had never brought a poetry book from library. I never understood why people write poems. It was all because I had never read good poetry, or I had not learnt interpreting things till then. All this happened around my early twenties. From around 19 through 21, I was turning from a “reading reader” to a “writing reader.”
For me, writing is interpreting things. If reading is an attempt to understand the world better, interpretation and writing is a way to understand ourselves. It was around this critical time, I was haunted with this question “What am I?” and I started writing. Practically, I never asked myself this question and never tried to answer it, I started gaining insights in myself with my interpretations and my point-of-view towards things.
Around the same time, I found Urdu poetry. I would have little hesitation to say Urdu poetry is the crowned queen of all Indian poetry. Urdu poetry helped me a great to learn the skill of appreciating words. I was my kind of poetry, that talks in subtleties, that speaks through symbols and icons, that speaks a little and leaves a lot to the reader. Iqbal was one of my early favorites. Look at one of his couplet:
ढूंढता फिरता हूं ऐ इक़बाल अपने आप को,
आप ही गोया मुसाफिर आप ही मंज़िल हूं मैं
I keep wandering, oh Iqbal, in search of my “self”
As if I am the traveler and I am the destination too!
Then came Sahir,
जो तार से निकली वो धून सब ने सुनी है
जो साज़ पे गुज़री है वो किस दिल को पता है
Everyone has listened to the tune that comes out of the strings,
Who knows what the instrument goes through!
And how can I forget Ghalib, the king of Urdu poetry. The introduction line of my last blog read:
ये मसाईल ए तसव्वूफ़, ये तेरा बयान ग़ालिब
ह्म तुझे वली समझते जो न बादाख्वार होता
These problems of mysticism, these discourses of yours Ghalib,
We would have considered you a saint, if you were not a drunkard!
The above couplets are just for introduction. I can’t tell you exactly how Ghalib had made me restless, and at the same time, how he had become solace to myself. I can’t stop myself from quoting one more from Ghalib:
दोनों जहान दे के वो समझे ये खुश रहा,
यां शर्म आ पडी के अब तकरार क्या करें
Having given all her world, she thinks he must be happy now,
Here I’m in a shame now what shall I complain about?
I find it very difficult to stop when I start talking about Urdu poetry. It has became a kind of passion for me. We can keep this topic reserved for some time later.
I started building my own self over these things. And oftentimes, a single couplet grew over me like a whole concept, a series of interpretations, things unwinding one after one. It built up so much in me, I was left like a pregnant cloud and the only thing I could do was to shower. This led to one more search, on whom? I was left once again with “I wander in search of my self, O Iqbal.” It is very difficult to find one who “understands” your passions and you. I pass through dreams, lives, failures . Again a new search, I cannot stop showering.
I cannot stop writing.