A Writer's Lie
by Mini Gautam
“Why do you write?” the journalist asked the debutante author of the award winning novel.
“I write because I feel. I get clogged if I don’t write. The writing helps me to release as much as possible; happiness, pain, anger, anxiety. Its equivalent to running or meditating, it makes me feel recharged and refreshed.”
“Are you trying to say that others don’t feel, that writers are the only sensitive people around and everyone else is just unfeeling and immune?”
“See, now you are doing what a journalist does, putting words into my mouth. I think every human being uses a different form of expression. Some people may scream or cry, I write. ”
The journalist laughed. It was difficult to win a battle of words with a writer.
The writer went home that night, his hands were trembling and he was angry. He wanted to break something, his marriage was falling apart, his child hated him, and his parents hadn’t spoken to him in years. The questions of the journalist bothered him, what authority did a stranger have to judge him or comment on his life. He was his own worst enemy, but he couldn’t admit that in an interview. He had ruined every relationship he had ever touched, and he was not proud of it. But when he wrote, he could be somebody else. He could pick up his pen and create new worlds; he could abolish the system or destroy an entire universe. It felt like living in parallel realities, the failures of his personal life got overshadowed by the success of his written stories.
Everyone wore a mask, but it was easier for him. Ashwin already had a mask in his printed name, in his published words. He could write on anything and nobody knew whether it was really his own thoughts or fiction, nobody knew real from imagination. He could write his darkest secrets and confessions under a character’s name, and would never be judged for them. He could express hope and disappointment, fulfilment and resentment, loyalty and betrayal, everything all at once or nothing at all, all at his own whims and fancies.
Ashwin had failed at his job as a bank manager, he didn’t understand lending and borrowing. He didn’t comprehend credit or liability. The only thing he knew was expression, weaving magic with words. His passion overcame him, and after a while all he did was writing. The pain of his personal failures faded, and he started basking in the appreciation of his readers. The reality no longer disillusioned him, for he could step out of it and into his own version, whenever he wanted or chose.
The scratching sound of pen on paper, and the whiff of a strong whiskey, his world was complete. The relationships had all faded away, and his friends became the people in his stories. He wanted to introduce more complex ideas and bring forth more diverse versions of every understood sentiment. Each story was the beginning of a new life, and each ending symbolized its finish. He laughed and cried; he felt fear and relief, all hidden in words and spilled out on empty pages, no longer empty and no longer incomplete. He found a freedom he had lost and a love that had been misplaced and missed; his very own.
The question resounded in his head, “Why do you write?” and he whispered to the empty wall of his home, “Writing helps me live a lie with more credibility than the truth.”