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.