I would run to my mom’s class everyday after school.
“Mummy, you have no idea what happened today.” – and I would start blabbering all my stories as she would correct the class-work of her kindergarteners.
“And then this happened, and then she did this and then he said this”, narrating every single aspect of the day, asking my mom to look at me. “Mummy, look at me no – I am talking!”
“I am listening”, she would say while putting her pen down and I would complete narrating everything, every detail, while she listened, looking at me, with a smile on her face.
She always listened.
My stories were never about me. I would always talk about others, because nothing interesting ever happened to me. I was boring, and I would never speak in class – I barely had friends and I never went out to play. People made fun of me, and I was always scared, but at the same time, I was always amused by everyone around me. I was curious, and excitable. I would get excited if a classmate shared their secret with me. “I will not tell it to anyone, I promise”. I would say thinking this is my opportunity to be popular – by keeping secrets. I was helpful and polite – and naive.
I used to dance not caring if I was good or not. So, when my dance teacher punished me for not dancing well, I was shocked and hurt – I cried a lot. I used to draw and paint not caring if I was good or not, so when my art teacher compared my drawing book to the first girl in class and humiliated me for being bad at drawing, I was shocked and hurt. I cried A LOT! I used to think I could do anything – I would not be judged. This feeling did not last.
One of my mom’s friends once told me that anyone could draw. All I had to do was hold a pencil, close my eyes and draw what I saw, on the paper. One night, I decided to do that. I could not. All I saw was darkness. I got angry and sad and helpless. I cried as I aggressively starting coloring the paper black. I looked at that paper – torn, colored in black and ugly. JUST. LIKE. ME. I cried and I cried and I cried. I covered my mouth the whole time. My dad knocked on my door – asking me what happened and I would just stay quiet. And I just stayed quiet.
I just stayed quiet. I would not run to my mom and share all that what happened. I would not ask my mom to look at me and she would not listen to me or smile. I just stayed quiet. Once my sister took me out, to figure out what was going on with me.
After she bought me an ice cream and put her hands around me, I blurted it out –
“I have no talent. I am not creative at all”.
She was stumped, but she held her breath and said,
“Pratiksha, everyone has some talent, you just have not found it yet.”
I did not buy it. The first girl in my class is good at everything. She does not have to figure it out, why should I?
But I did!
I started writing journals, imitating the girls from the television series I was watching. I would write everything – I would write the truth, that no one knew. The journals held everything about me – in my utmost vulnerability. I would hope someone would read it and hug me tightly but I also did not want anyone to ever find it as well. This is called a dilemma, I found out as I started exploring the dictionary to make my journals fancier. I would feel heavy all day, or burdensome (as the dictionary would say), and when I poured it all out in the journal, it would take all my burden from me. After a long time, I used to feel lighter – like I could fly, like my words could heal wounds and make me smile. It was my kind of high.
One day, I wrote a story and showed it to my then best friend. She did not have an opinion on it, and how would she? She was also a sixth grader, just like me. But I kept writing – more and more and more and more. And the stories in me, just overflowed. With my words, I had travelled the up the mountains and down the oceans, and I was not to be stopped. Nobody had to tell me I was good at it, but I loved it. And I was not letting any teacher or friend take it away from me. I kept it hidden, under the depths of my notebooks. But I was good – it could not stay hidden. It became my confidant, my safety pillow.
It saved me!
I would run to my mom’s class after school, and tell her my new story ideas. These stories were not about me – but these stories were mine. To me, they belonged! I would ask her to look at me, and she would put her pen down, look at me and she would smile.
And she said, “You were always good at story-telling.”