Each day, I search for the voice that is me. I search for the words that will express my thoughts, my feelings, my dreams; but often I find, I am falling short of the language as we know it.
I have observed that we all exist in a million different worlds at the same time. We have worlds where we are the heroes, others where we play villains, there are moments where we are victimized, others where we are the oppressors. Fascinatingly, all of these worlds co-exist in the same time though usually at different spaces. What is it that I seek to express as a writer? What is the story that I want to tell?
As I read my essays, short stories and poems written over the years, I realize my stories almost never end the way they have started off. Many usually have surprise endings, yet others tend to lose direction. Looking back at the incidents that inspired the story, and the shape the story has finally taken, I feel my characters give in to the fear of seeming too abnormal, too weird. This is a strange and scary realization for me as I know that is what my real world personality is like.
I really would like to be terribly brave and outspoken, a wild child, someone who can just live for the sake of expressing my innermost feelings and expressions. I have undertaken that journey so many times in my lifetime only to have abandoned it mid-way. And somewhere along the road, I fear I believed I would never be everything I wanted to be.
And that is the fear I see expressed in my characters – the fear of being incomplete, shattered beings who begin a journey only to lose their way and direction along the way. It is a fearful space to be: for my characters and for me.
This is the first time I have realized this pattern in my creative life. I hope being conscious of this habit, driven by the realization that if I try hard enough, my characters will have a real life… gives me the courage to keep writing, to keep pushing my characters to find a way to be real. And may be through them, find a way to be true to myself as well.
_ Bharti Athray