Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Games Children Play

You can only know your future when you can see where you've come from. My road to here hasn't been an arduous one in the truest sense & not many books would sell off of it. But it has been interesting.

At home, I was the little girl who was never quite as good as my sister, this was true of school too. I was regularly looked down upon in school until I made my first friend. One of my first memories of school is getting friendly with one little girl who was kinda left out because she was the smartest while I was being left out for being new. That was it.

Another girl then joined in to this duo followed by another making it a quartet. This is the story of two of those girls : they were beautiful, intelligent girls who I always felt slightly dumb around. They were girly with hopes and dreams & fun parents who treasured them. I always felt 'lesser than' but was amazed that they still liked me. They never made fun of me or my shabbiness or my not-so-great grades.

They were good girls, the best kind. They had the true smiles and the genuine hearts. Smiles that didn't stop unless in a hospital bed, hearts that accepted my every flaw. Even when I made other friends, it was the first two that were always home for me. All through my rebellious phase & my weird stunts, they always had a spot next to them for me during lunch.

Their lives moved on and those beautiful ducklings turned into even prettier swans. As I write this, I am aware of how much of me is shaped by them. They were such a big reason I made it through school without a completely broken head and heart. I have blocked so many memories from school because I felt tiny & insignificant (inspite of my girth). Most of the memories I have today is of sharing my lunch with those girls and playing weird lunchtime games, sitting with them during assembly and talking about hating one teacher and loving another.

That life seems a different person ago, a girl who was so determined to never be made fun of again. A girl who was more than just a sum of her parts, a girl who was so inspired by her two best friends that she knew she'd be more than just another girl from Wadala. There are people who inspire you without them knowing why & sometimes you don't really know the reasons either. All I know is that two little girls held on tightly to this little girl's heart & refused to let go. And somehow, that just saved my life.

Both of them are married now and never tell me any of the things people say married people say to single girls. One of them is a mother and I wish everyday her mom was around to see the wonderful woman she's turned out to be. The other remains my shining light, who somehow knows to reach out to me at my lowest & bring me back. I am no longer a big part in their lives but for me, they are my childhood.

PS: Dedicated to Asha Krishnan Bhojani and Smita Sridharan Somani

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Do I make you smile?

I see you stopping by. Stay a while, won't you?

What is a storyteller without someone to tell the stories to? I want to make you smile, that kind of smile that bursts across your face when you have a mental A-HA. When you hear something that's so very you that every part of your self identifies with it. All storytellers want to captivate you in, bring you into their parlours, but I want more, I want you to stay a while. Won't you?

Ben Okri once told me, "Once you take away all the fillers, what remains in your writing is your voice." (if you can start off your writing with a Ben Okri quotation, you cannot go wrong. All you have to do after that is hope people read it in a James Earl Jones voice.)

I don't know if my writing has a voice; but I know I have something to say. I have a few war stories of my own, though I usually like to hide them. I'm an introvert at the best of times but more often than not, I'm the most social in a conversation where people are trading experiences. It's simple. I'll show you mine if you show me yours, our stories are our currency. They are the measure of our worth. Most of my closest friends are the ones who inspire me with the rich and varied lives they lead.

Stories are entertainment for those who have longer attention spans than 140 characters. Stories are for those who have a curiosity for the world. There is so much to absorb out there, no one person can do it all. That's why we have books and that's why a storyteller's job is never done. We all want to write our books, have someone play us in a movie. We all want our story told & there are so many stories that deserve to be told.

You cannot sell anything without telling its story. The whole world of business is based on that premise. Everyone needs a human connection, between people, between products, however diluted it may be. There is a reason why everybody checks out reviews before trying out a movie or play or restaurant or even a book. This is why people want to be famous, all they want is to be seen, to be heard, for their stories to be told.

Hear my story. I want you to stay a while. Won't you?