I have always loved stories…
Well, who doesn’t? But I was obsessed with them. As a child, I would refuse to go to bed without a story. I liked to sleep with the feel of a story that would spill into my dreams.
I learnt to read very early. While the children in my class struggled with words and meanings, I had already progressed to sentences. I was so eager to read the stories in those beautiful books that had pictures of animals and birds and trees that I ended up learning real fast. And like Katherine Mansfield wrote:
‘Once we have learnt to read, meaning of words can somehow register without consciousness.‘
The words now illuminated for me the pages that had always carried for me the promise of a fantasy world. I buried myself in this world. The earliest characters in that fantasy world were animals and birds, and of course, nature. In those books, trees, mountains and rivers had life. They felt and they spoke. Human beings were sometimes portrayed as discordant beings that interfered with the scheme of the universe. Books were my companions; they throbbed with life. I was happy that I could now read myself to sleep. But sometimes, I would find myself addicted to a story, and be unable to sleep until I got to the end of the story.
When I grew up, I started seeing stories in my own life- some happy, and some sad. The sad stories had a greater impact on me because they seemed to connect me to the soul of something larger than myself- to the soul of a universe. I learnt the art of reading into the stories of the people who touched me. I learnt to decipher the essence of those stories.
It amuses me that despite being someone who lived amidst stories, I rarely wrote stories. When I started writing, essay was the medium that occurred naturally to me. But an essay had its limitations. For one, a certain degree of sophistication is inherent to an essay; it can never capture the simplicity of a story without losing its content and depth. Secondly, most people are reluctant to read essays.
But who can say no to a story?
Especially a story that captures the essence of human life? A story in which we can read the story of our own lives….perceive our own tales of happiness, sorrow and anxiety….get a glimpse of the infinite beauty that resides in our souls?
I believe that a story has immense potential at creating an impact because we absorb not dissected facts, but whole pictures, with the interconnections intact. The story is rich with possibility because the interconnections start becoming more visible as we let the story seep in, enabling us to decipher the deep inner meaning.
I now understand how difficult story writing is. To write a story, one has to be able to pick up a story from the infinity of the story that is life. The primary ingredient of a story is the character. You have to love a character in order to feel the urge to know them. And they must never realize that you are reading their mind. They must only feel your love for them…for their spirit. You have to bare yourself of your defenses and make yourself vulnerable in order to get into the mind of the character. And so, without their knowledge, you get into their mind. And they will tell you their story. They themselves will. Just that for them, it is ordinary, worthless and plain. But for you, those sublime tones translate into the most beautiful words, rich in inner meaning. You have to be careful to retain its sublime tones; you must not corrupt it with sentimentality. That is the weaving of a story.
I am at that juncture in life where my mind is brimming with characters. Characters who touched my life at one point or other, characters who were unaware of the beauty of their souls or the richness of their lives of struggle and pain, characters who let me take a journey into their beautiful minds and discover the treasures I had always looked for. It is perhaps time to share these treasures with the world- with all of humanity.
It is time to explore the realm of story-writing.