As a child my mom used to deride my artistic ambitions, I wanted to be important; I wanted to be an artist. Writer, painter, singer, fashion designer, movie star… anything that involved creating art. My fashion sense is at best weird so that was the end of that dream, I am tone deaf so that was a no go for singing, my acting skills are ok and in college I realised I made a better director than an actor so that was that, while I render a decent copy I lack the passion of a painter and it is more of a chore than a delight, which left me with writing. Mind you, coupled with my dyslexia it does make for a rather hard task but what is art if not marked with the sweat of adversity?
While it might seem like I settled for writing as an expression of the creative spirit in me, I must stress that writing is what liberated me. I shudder to think where I’d be without my passion for writing, after all it is this very love that helped me overcome my dyslexia, helped me get an education, increased my vocabulary and truly schooled me in the art of being a human being.
There are many failed individuals who could not aspire to much on account of the cumbersome task of reading and writing, I have dodged that outcome purely out of my love of writing. Taming the runaway letters was indeed a mammoth task but I learnt a very important lesson about being a human being, we are not without our strengths especially our will to overcome. When we set our minds to do something and most importantly struggle towards it with bitter tears, help comes our way.
I still remember starring at my history books with tears welling up in my eyes as I starred at the jumbled words in front of me, wondering how I would ever pass my test the next day, surely my father would be ready with his belt to let me know the consequence of being mediocre. I called out to heaven and the angels, but none came and as I stared into my history textbook that looked more like a crossword puzzle, words popped in front of me. Just like a crossword puzzle that was being solved, I saw words pop that made a sentence; they summed up what the paragraphs were all about.
I began to jot them down, from then on I began to write all my answers in point form, not a great talent given that the Indian education system relied on rambling on and on but for me it was a breakthrough. I had a wonderful history teacher, Mrs. Banerjee, who didn’t mind my point form answers as long as I mentioned all the points it was ok for her.
This followed me into college and everyone marvelled as to how I could pull out such key points from pages of discourse that left everyone else confused. My weakness became my strength. My teachers noted that though I bunked my classes, failed to submit my journals, my reports/projects/seminars were always succinct, and simplified beyond belief, many suggested I take up teaching.
The point I am trying to make is that this world has us conditioned into thinking in terms of success versus failure, ability versus disability, what if we stepped away from that model of thinking? As a mother of a child with autism I am amazed at his sense of logic and baffled by his inability to comprehend a joke. The world tells me that my child has a problem, his teachers tell me that he is very intelligent but unable to translate that into paper, I get that, I was in that very same boat, albeit for a different disability. However, I know something they don’t, he can get over it just as long as people don’t keep shouting in his ears that he can’t do it and never will.
As I struggle to get him to learn and discover ways to overcome his hurdles, I realised why I overcame and he is struggling. I am an artist, I am fuelled with this love for drama, the poignant story of an underdog that overcomes uplifts my soul and charges me to break all barriers. Sadly, not everyone is born an artist, and hence life’s struggles are just that struggles, how depressing! While I am on an epic adventure to discover myself and get quite bored if life doesn’t throw a hurdle at me, others are quite heartbroken with their pain and brood over their scars.
It is truly a blessing to be born an artist, to see pain as an instrument to delve deeper into one’s soul, to see hurdles as an opportunity to know what you are truly made of, to see betrayal and treachery as lessons to grow and evolve. I thank my miserable life that has been riddled with pain and trauma of the most unbelievable sorts, like my mom says, ‘anything that can go wrong goes wrong in your life, still you laugh.’ I thank all the pain and the lessons because they have led me to discover what I’m truly made up of, what I truly stand for and who I truly am and the best part, I love myself, every scar, mistake, idiotic idiosyncrasy, past, present and future.