Age is just a number…

It’s not every day that you reach a landmark age of 31. While just yesterday I felt like I was finally going to be over-the-hill, today is an entirely different feeling. Perhaps, it’s because today was such a fun day, or because I like that people made the effort to call me and wish me happy birthday. Or simply because I realized that we live for the little things that make us happy. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many years you’ve walked this earth. What matters is how you live each minute, here and now.

Ten years ago when I turned 21, I felt like an adult. Finally, I would be on my own, independent and capable of making my own decisions. To put it simply, I felt like a big girl. A decade later, as I step well and truly into the 30s, I find that I am not as thrilled as I was at 21. What changes? Is it real? Or is it, like so many other feelings, a figment of my overactive imagination. Where did this decade disappear? In these 10 years, I have gone abroad, come back, got a job, changed careers, made difficult decisions, got married and lost several loved ones and even coped with this loss. While that seems like a lot of work, these years have simply melted away leaving nothing but memories. At times, these memories are vivid and clear. At other times, I can barely remember. But one thing remains: time is a healer, it moves on and people do as well, along with it.

With this realization comes another: age is just a number. I could spend the next ten years regretting all that I couldn’t do. Or I could seize the day and live it to the fullest. The choice now is mine. And my choice is to seize the day. As Ronsard said, “Cueillez dès aujourd’hui, les roses de la vie.” Because you never know what life has in store for you.

Resurrecting a blog

This day, seven years ago, I began to put down my words on paper (or screen). As this blog turns 7, I begin to wonder when and why I simply stopped writing. Was it when I ran out of things to say? Or was it when I simply found other means of expressing myself? Was it, as some of my friends say, when I found other things to do with my life and my time? Today is as good a day as any other to reflect on these questions in the hope that discovering answers to them will spur me on to becoming a better and more prolific writer.

This blog has surely seen better days, with opinions expressed, debates raging on in the comments columns and interaction being a given, rather than a possibility. But somewhere along the way, I lost track. I stopped writing as frequently as I used to and my readers lost patience with me and gave up on my ability to turn out posts worth reading. There was a time when I obsessed about page views, visitor stats and the like. Today, I find that none of these actually matter. It no longer matters to me if someone is reading what I write, although I do appreciate the odd comment that comes my way.

Much reflection and analysis later, I also discovered that I had stopped writing precisely because this blog was acquiring more and more readers. While it remains a pleasure to know that people are reading and appreciating what I write, I began to get more conscious of my writing when I met people in real life who began to discuss my blog. Ok. Let me get this out! I simply don’t like discussing the contents of my blog in real life. I am fine with interactions through comments and email, but confront me in person on something I have said on my blog and I get uncomfortable. Not that I am a shy person, far from it. But, there seems to be some kind of mental block in mixing my online life with my offline one. I certainly have friends who belong to both worlds, but not everyone makes that crossover as easily. In addition, I often find myself hesitating about posting something on my blog because I am concerned about the reaction of those on Facebook who might come across the post and have something to say. It didn’t help that my blog feeds were automatically synchronised with my Facebook timeline.

And then, one day, it came to me completely out of the blue. It was now time for me dissociate my personal identity from that of my blog. While this was in no way an attempt to become anonymous, it was an important step in my evolution as a blogger. So, with renewed determination, I set about the task of giving this blog a new identity distinct from that of it’s owner. I created a Facebook page for the Accidental Writer. I stopped the synchronisation of my blog with my FB profile. I decided to take it slowly and publish manual updates rather than allow automated feeds. It already feels better to know that my blogposts will be judged on their merit and not as something written by Amrutha. I don’t know if this experiment will succeed. But, whatever it is, the deed is done.

Now, the Accidental Writer has been officially resurrected. As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. This is the second post in 10 days, which is more than I can claim to have done in the last two years. I am crossing my fingers and hoping this trend continues. And that one day, my readers come back to this blog knowing that it offers them something worth their while. Until then, I will continue to write. Because that’s what I know to do best!

Writing…

…is therapeutic. It relieves me of frustrations because you learn to verbalize the frustration. Writing is cathartic and gives me release in a world where I would otherwise watch every word I utter. I began to write fairly late in life, when I realized that I had much to say and no way to make myself heard. One fine day in October, seven years ago, I discovered that there was indeed a way of making myself heard. That is when I began to write. What began as an intimate diary open only to invited readers has today assumed a life of it’s own; an identity that is slowly becoming distinct from my personal one.

Writing helps me think clearly. Writing makes me a better person.Writing gives me something to do with all the million thoughts that swim around in my head trying to tumble out in the form of words. Sometimes, I succeed in building a coherent stream of thought. At other times, these words remains log-jammed in my head, much like vehicles in a traffic jam trying to get ahead of one another and remaining all stuck in one place.On such days, I wish I could spew out random words just to rid my brain of all the unwanted and pointless thoughts that crowd out precious thinking space in my brain. Sometimes, I just let it be and end up sleeping over it, only to wake up with a head full of random dreams that I can make no sense of.

This reminds me of the free writing exercise we used to do in English class in college. Mrs. Jasper used to ask us to write whatever came to our mind, unmindful of grammar and syntax, spelling and coherence for a certain duration. Sometimes, this was as short as a minute and sometimes as long as ten. This exercise unfailingly lightened the burden on my mind. Every single time. I still do it on a sheet of paper when my mind is full of things. On that note, this also reminds me that I have stopped writing. I don’t know why or in what circumstances I actually stopped putting my words to paper (or screen), but I do know that it is roughly around this time that I actually started changing as a person; and not necessarily for the better.

A good friend, over a casual chat over 2 years ago pointed out: “Amrutha, your mind is so full of things. Just give it some rest, will you?” I shrugged off his comment and didn’t give much thought to it then. Now, I wonder if he was right. I wonder if I should just give my mind some rest and take it easy. And I also wonder if beginning to write again will help me accomplish that. I do not know. I can only hope to find out one day!

Karna’s wife – The Outcast’s Queen

Sometimes, when you pick up a book entirely at random, the choice proves to be better than one that you make after much thought and deliberation. When I first came across this book on Flipkart, I thought, “Why not?”. After all, I enjoy reading mythology of any sort. Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni remains one of my favourite retellings of India’s most interesting epic many years after I first read it. I ordered it online almost on an impulse, given that I hadn’t even heard of Kavita Kane before. Better yet, I had no idea that Karna was even married according to the traditional version of the Mahabharata. The premise was interesting.

After reading about 30 pages, I found myself falling in love with Karna, much like Uruvi who marries him against social sanction and becomes his closest friend, confidante and conscience-keeper. The narrative is layered with the several contradictions that characterize Karna. His nobility and goodness is unquestionable as is his unflinching loyalty to Duryodhana. Beyond all this, what sets this narrative apart from all others is that no character, however good or evil is entirely so. Even Duryodhana is portrayed as essentially human, with all the flaws that accompany it. It is refreshing to see Bhanumati, Duryodhana’s wife as a real character of flesh and blood rather than just a name. Each of the minor characters in the traditional version gets an overhaul and becomes so real that their concerns become ours.

I could go on and on about what’s good about the book, but what’s the point? If you are one of those who likes mythology, this book is definitely for you. Kavita Kane has done a great job with this book, but I wonder if she plans to write any more. She will definitely have a reputation to live up to in her books to come!