It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
When I was a little girl, my mother took me to the British Council Library every Saturday afternoon and she used to leave me at the children’s section. I used to sit on a little wooden stool in a corner with a pile of books beside me. I sometimes used to look at the tall-selves of the grown-up section and realize how impatient I was to grow up and borrow books from there. The small prints and the amazing titles filled me with a sense of awe. And I wanted to write something that would fill library shelves one day.
I used to, sometimes, sit at the small circular table and leaf through photo books and encyclopedias and carry story books and novels written by my favourite childhood authors back home. I remember trying to stand on my toes and look over the counter, as they put date stamps on the books we had chosen, four for my mother and two for me. Then I could feel the thrill as my mother took the books. They were used books, yet they smelt wonderful.
I used to walk out of the library proudly clutching the books that belonged to me for a couple of weeks. Back home, I sat in my room as the warm sunlight and a cool breeze filtered in through the large windows. And I could see the hills and a stream at a distance. (I was born and raised in a hill station called Ranchi where you could see a lot of natural structures before they were ripped off by construction after the city became a capital.)
I used to read and read and wonder happily. My favourite authors were Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton and I used to wish the world they created in the books really existed. On Sundays I would sit with my father and read encyclopedias as he read the newspapers. I wanted to study science and archaeology when I was 7 years old. I read about the ancient Greeks and the Egyptians and wondered at the beautiful names of places called Babylon and Constantinople, Alexandria, Macedonia and so on.. In fact the first story I had written was about a little boy, a dog and an ancient Egyptian mummy who had returned to life.
My first major story was written at the age of 13, by the time I had decided on becoming a scientist and a writer and if possible, an “Egyptologist” as well. Fact was, I wanted to travel the world and see everything there about which I had read in the books, from the Arabian deserts to Siberia. I called the story, “The Figment of Imagination” and it was a fantasy-mystery. I was very proud of my work and I dreamt of making a movie on it and starring in it too! My grandma had it printed as a gift for my 14th birthday and gave it to all our friends and relatives. They read it. They loved it. They still talk about it. It was a boost and I never stopped writing.
In high school, I constructed plots, didn’t write stories, read a lot and wrote essays and won awards. It was after I finished school, I started working on my most ambitious project. And I was working towards my childhood goals of becoming a scientist and a writer. And as a result, most of my stories started featuring characters who were themselves scientists or writers!
I finished my first novel in June last year and also have a collection of stories, some of which have featured in a national daily, The Statesman. And, on the science front, I would like to see myself as a successful plant breeder and geneticist, strolling around acres and acres of cardamom or coffee plantations. And I remember a few lines from a very famous movie, Gone With The Wind, “Land is the only thing worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it is the only thing that lasts…”
So, now I am waiting and wondering where the paths I have chosen will lead me to.
Have a great weekend!
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©The Idea Bucket, 2013.