Why do I write ?
I write because I love writing. Period.
But such single-word, one-line answers don't suffice when you are face to
face with an intellectual audience.
So what else do I say ?
I ask my friends, those who belong to the fraternity of writers. Khushwant
Singh says, "I write because writing brings me money and notoriety.
Moreover, I feel elated when beautiful girls ask for my autographs". A
well-known Punjabi poet Amrita Pritam says "In my last birth I was a 'rishi',
meditating somewhere in the snow-covered solitude of Himalayas. Another
'rishi' cursed me that in my next birth I will suffer great pain, and paint that
pain in words. So I was born with a pen in my hand". Another writer says,
"Well, because I don't know how to do anything else".
Why do I write ? I wonder ! And then I look in those secret spaces within me,
into those mysterious depths where innumerable galaxies dance in the
eternal darkness, where innumerable deaths coexist with innumerable lives,
where all the bygone centuries and all the experiences human life has
passed through sleep in an ever-awakening awareness, where I find an
enormous kaleidoscope in which my own experiences and the vision
through which I have lived and seen this world, the reality or its fringe that I
have been able to touch, all the horizons which I have been endeavouring to
reach and go beyond, all the elusive pasts and elusive presents and futures
clad in mystery, all the awe-inspiring knowledge and fearsome ambiguity, all
the truths tugging at each other, all loves and hates, a whole universe which
is my private universe, living and throbbing across the abyss in my
conscious and sub-conscious being, inside that mysterious kaleidoscope,
manifesting itself in myriad colours and getting magnified.
I write because that is the only way I know of grappling with the various
contradictory truths which keep tugging at each other. I write because I
constantly try to unravel the great mystery that life is. I write because I try to
reconstruct life and interpret it in terms which are more persuasive than
I write because in the process I not only try to fathom the fathomless
depths of human reality of the mindscapes of my characters, I
also try to grapple with the multitudes I carry within. Because none of us is a
single individual, we are people within people, whose longings and
yearnings and thoughts are in constant conflict with each other. From this
constant contact with the welding torch of our individual and collective
realities, fly the sparks I endeavour to capture in my writings.
But my only tools are words and most of the time they prove insufficient,
ineffective. Like a fisherwoman I keep the net spread wide in ever-flowing
waters, trying to capture the fish whose skins glow with myriad colours of the
sun-rays transformed when they pierce the crystal of flowing waters. But
when I catch them in my hand, they gasp and die. Their colours fade away. I
turn them upside down. Their dead bellies are the colour of ash-grey sky.
In this age and times of monstrous savagery humans continue to display in
their dealings with their fellow beings, I have no other weapons of protest
than my words.
I write because, whether I am capable of exploring and using
its vitality or not, I know the power of the word, and I love
its resonance, its tinkle, its various shades of meaning, its
eternal and inherent truth, its texture, its sound, its
rhythm. Words which glow with the colours of dawns and dusks,
words which fall like the first rain-drop on parched earth,
words which roar like cyclones and have the thunder of black
clouds, words which flash across my mind's horizon like
lightening, words which are soft and pulsating, words which
have the resonance of metal striking against metal, words
which purr and words which roar ! I am in love with words.
That is perhaps why I write. To explore their hidden pulse
and temperament, I play with them I chisel them, I also
chase them when they are elusive and mysterious. It is the process of
discovering something which is larger than myself. It is the manifestation of
elusive, undiscovered, unfathomable reality. I write to encounter and
concretise my own thoughts, and sometimes perhaps a face seen long ago,
a dusk descending slowly around me, the subtle footsteps of stars heard in
mysterious childhood, an anguish encountered long back, rustle of leaves in
the stillness of night, and sometimes the urgent, constant knocking on my
consciousness of mysterious visions, ideas, dreams, and perhaps the
presumptuous belief of rebuilding the world.
I write because I am a witness to the horrors of daily life, day-to-day
existence of people living next door, or in Punjab or Kashmir or Assam, or in
Bosnia or Chechanya or Rawandct, or anywhere else in the world, feeling
my destiny entwined with theirs, living in fear, dying like flies. And I can't look
the other way. I write because I believe that those who remain silent become
a part of the dark conspiracy.
I write because that is the only way I know of defining my own identity, and
registering my protest against all that is wrong.
I write because the miracle of finding, chiselling, breaking and moulding
words to capture those fleeting moments of life which fascinated me, or
awed me, or terrified me, or held me spell-bound, or broke me into a million
miniscule pieces, fascinates me.
It is also a challenge I can't ignore or avoid, because I chose to accept it.
I write because I am a tiny particle of life on this planet, which is again a tiny
particle in the great cosmos^ and I want to fight and conquer my sense of
futility of being the tiniest of the tiny particles in this vast pulsating universe. It
is perhaps the only way I know of asserting myself, or discovering myself and
the great mysteries of human life around me.
Also, because the ability to think is the most dynamic and significant force in
the living world, and literature is the most thoughtful combination of form and
I enjoy writing even though it involves the great anguish of feeling myself on
trial every single minute of my life. And it needs great courage to speak in the
darkest hour, and speak the truth.