Sunday, 6 October 2013

The First

Everybody has a time when they feel that they are at their lowest. Unfortunately, to me, it happens every other day. Having classmates who are smarter isn’t easy. And at times no matter how hard you try, you will always find them a step ahead of you. To make matters worse, the silly girl that I am, I have made writing as a career choice where I will always have someone who will never appreciate my work. Writing is subjective, they say; you will always have a few who love your work and a few who don’t. It doesn’t matter how much I tell myself to only concentrate on the ones who love my work without completely ignoring the ones who don’t appreciate it; it is difficult to be happy about the applause and back-patting.
Despite having friends (few are writers themselves) who constantly motivate me and give an honest opinion, I find myself turning deaf when they appreciate my work. I struggle to motivate myself and often question my choice to take up journalism. But in the end, I am left with only one thing – the happiness of the first write-up being published. I always had some love for writing. I grew up writing about my day every night in my diary; it was something my mother inculcated in my sister and me. In school too, my essays and other related submissions were always appreciated. I would write for myself numerous times and sometimes, to just get things out of my system. Coming from a family where my opinion or my stories are never heard, I found a sort of solace in penning down everything I felt and then erased it so that no one at home would know my thoughts. I had never considered journalism as a career; I was always considering studying law.
In a few ways, my life is as dramatic as Hindi cinema. I too have that one day in my life that changed everything. The Mumbai 26/11 attack changed everyone’s life in Mumbai in some small way. During that period, Mid-day ran a column ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ so that people could vent out their emotions about the attack. Angered at the problems my city was facing, I too sent a long write-up about how the blame-game should stop and that the main concern was to tackle terrorism. From the time I sent it, I would check the paper everyday, hoping the write-up would appear in at least the ‘my view’ section. I waited and after three days lost hope. I went back to concentrating only on my studies (I was in standard 10, then) and forgot all about the article. My father would come home from work with a copy of Mid-day every night, and my mother would read it later as a habit. When the paper arrived at night, on December 9th, 2008, I casually picked it up for a glance.
My hands froze, my eyes flared in shock. I let out a loud scream. The next 5 minutes were spent in jumping in one spot with the paper in my hand and everyone at home questioning my excitement. My mother took no time in guessing and ran to check if it was true. My piece had finally been published (after a lot of editing, of course) in the ‘my view’ section. The perfect way to put it would be using the cliché ‘my joy knew no bounds.’ I didn’t know what to do, so I simply sat there and cried in happiness. I jumped around the house showing off. I was on a different kind of high, a positive one.
Agreed it wasn’t an article that I had researched and written and it was more like a ‘letters to the editor’ piece. Some of you may find my excitement silly, but that doesn’t change the fact that I was happy. Maybe because that was the first time someone had listened to what I wanted to say or because I was thrilled to see my name in print. Regardless of how small that achievement may be to anyone else, for me it was something so beautiful that I decided, this is what my calling was. I knew it then, like I know now, that I want to write – for myself and professionally. I feel intimidated by my colleagues at times, and I may not be great with words or have a brilliant vocabulary; but no one can change the truth that writing makes me happy.
My doubts about taking up journalism were cleared (although on some occasions, smart classmates leave me in doubt again) when I would sit in the office of a magazine as an intern, dumbly smiling away (I was doing what I love) despite the stack of pages I had to proofread with the added pressure of preparing a questionnaire for an interview I had to take the next day. But more on that later.