It all started when my home was being broken down.
The foundation was being rebuilt.
And there I was, about 8 or 9, with a boy of about 14 or 15.
I used to ride around the construction site on my pink tricycle.
Usually, I followed him everywhere, calling him ‘dada'(Brother).
He was the sweetest person with the most genuine smile I have ever seen.
There was a shine about him which I identified, even as a child.
Or maybe I identified because I was a child.
My parents also took notice of him and wanted to take him in.
I had yearned for a brother all my life for reasons I cannot put a finger on.
So, there I was, immensely excited. Dreaming of growing up together with a smile like that.
My parents offered a chance at education, warmth, and endless possibilities.
When they put this forward to the constructor, the constructor talked it out with his father.
However, the father refused to give him up since he was an able source of income in the family. Just at 15.
My heart broke. I got a new house. Never saw him after that.
Years passed and I did not think of the matter until I reached standard 9, about 13 or 14 years of age.
I was awful at both English grammar and literature.
It was a pain when I was asked to write an essay worth 25 HUGE points on a particular topic.
I dreaded that paper.
One fine examination day, I was handed another such paper.
My English teacher, who was a brilliant woman with unmatched grace did one tiny change.
The last option in the essay stated, “Complete the story – ‘On that day…'”
At that time, the news was all around the country about the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai.
I was highly affected by the suddenness and brutality of the move.
That was probably the first time I grasped the meaning of unexpectedness.
Anything can happen to any of us.
I felt so attached to the incident that I did not have to spend a second thinking about which story to write about.
I wrote it in first person as if I was present there. I portrayed the scene based on what I thought it was like.
Created a make-belief brother in the story. With his face.
That boy of 15. There he was. Again. After so many years.
Everybody in my family survived the story, except him.
By the time I had put down the last word, I was in tears.
I was in tears, not just for the story of the brother who never was, but also for realizing suddenly the sheer power of words.
Words moved me. Made things come to life and had the power to kill them just the same.
The power I felt at that moment was unreal. And exactly, on the last dot, I was born a writer.
It is odd that I can pinpoint the exact moment, but I couldn’t until a few days ago.
I always knew it was that one essay, but I never knew why.
About a week ago I was talking to a friend about the 15-year-old boy, and that was when it all clicked and fell into place.
I realized that the intensity of those words came from a place of emotion.
I did not even remember that I had killed off the brother with him in mind, but suddenly I did.
And it was right there, the brilliance of the human psyche, staring right back at me,
Acting behind the scene, subconsciously, for years and years on end.
Who knows where it will lead us in the next few years!
Today I write on all subjects which move me. I am primarily a technical writer because technology interests me big time, but I also write for other topics which are really close to my heart.
One thing I am clear about. If the words are not coming from a place of passion, emotion or excitement, they will never reach that level of magic. Will never conquer their ultimate potential.
I am so grateful that I get to choose writing as a profession. I will only urge that you find your calling. Might sounds cliché, but do what honestly sets your soul on fire!
P.S: My teacher later called me and asked with a very sad and serious look on her face – ‘Where you present during the attack?’
‘No Mrs. Talukdar, I was not.’
‘Would you like to participate in the All India Essay Writing Competition.’
FYI, it was a terrible write-up I submitted for that competition. I wanted to win. That was how I learned; we only win when our words touch people sincerely.