Because it is the beginning of brave, says Natasha Badhwar
I hate writing because writing makes me a better person.
Sometimes writing brings in help. I don’t like asking for help. Yet, I often don’t realize that I am sending out a clear call for help when I allow my stream of consciousness to go for publishing.
When I wrote about Jyoti Devi, the 12-year-old schoolgirl in Hamirpur, Uttar Pradesh, who had only read one brochure besides her school books, I did not know that so many people would write in and offer books for her schoolmates and her. In retrospect, that must have been the only reason why I chose that one conversation to start the article on her. As you read this, cartons of children’s books are being couriered to a village in Uttar Pradesh to create a library in a government-run primary school. People read the story of bright children and their aspirations and were moved to act. To share their privilege with others.
Writing connects the stories. The writing brain is usually not the social self. Its slower and smarter. Writing forces me to understand and unravel, rather than judge.
Write long enough and one begins to see one’s reflection on the page. As if the light has shifted and transformed the screen into a mirror. Writing reveals us to ourselves.
All writing is letter-writing. Writing is a conversation. For the longest time, I had no idea who I was writing to. The answers began to reveal themselves years later. Sometimes I go on writing on something long after I have submitted the word limit I am allowed.
Writing slows me down. It makes me confront my confusion and lack of clarity. Writing humbles me.
Writing releases angst. Writing is the beginning of brave. It confronts cowardice. It shakes up lethargy.
Sometimes I write because I need to spit. Anger and disgust boils over. I was in a village, visiting family a few years ago. A 16-year-old girl in the neighbourhood had refused to go back to her marital home after she returned to her parents’ home for the first time since she had been married. The groom was in his 50s.
“She has been watching too many TV serials," someone commented. There was apathy all around. Malice and voyeurism.
Writing helped me climb out of the darkness of the dry well I seemed to have plunged into. It banished helplessness and brought back the awareness of my power and privilege. My responsibility.
Writing gives us permission. It restores our shattered self. It shames and inspires us to act. It brings validation. Writing is sharing—both our strengths and vulnerabilities.
Writing makes us read better. I scour words by others, looking for sentences that say what I have also felt. I look for worlds that are more honest than the one I am stuck in. I am forced to become honest to deserve entry into a better world.
Writing takes less time than reading. It is harder, but reading eventually leads to us beginning to write. Writing eventually makes us become alive again.
Writing makes me join the world. It breaks down walls and opens the windows. Writing un-isolates me.
For some people, running is writing. Drawing is writing. So is singing. Sometimes sleeping is writing. Dreams are blog posts.
Writing can be a pious activity, like a prayer after a bath. It has to be done with a clean and honest intent. Its purpose is to focus our own mind so we can draw on our abilities. Writing repairs love. It replenishes what is run down from overuse and neglect. It gives us a way to express what we otherwise are too wound-up to say.
Our language lies unused when we don’t write. Untold stories make us restless and hyperactive.
I hate writing like I hate sitting down to meditate. It calms down the angsty child and transfers energy to the playful one. It restores order and power, creating connections that heal.
Natasha Badhwar is a film-maker, media trainer and mother of three. She writes a fortnightly column on family and relationships.