I did not know where to go, where to turn and where to look. It was 2005. But inside me I knew that the place where I found myself was not the place where I was supposed to be forever. I also knew that there were some turns out of which one would help me to hit the right path. Ironically, I knew it for sure that there were places and people to look up to. But something was there that prevented me from taking the right and appropriate turn. Like many people of my age at that time, I was afraid of a disastrous future. The false sense of security, in whatever way it was seen and felt at that time, was extremely important or I felt so. Breaking free was difficult. Coming out of the system that had given me this sense of security looked like a remote chance yet it was so alluring that I could not have avoided looking at its face, even from a distance, at every other moment. It beckoned me from far, sometimes from very near. I could feel it’s breath on my face; it was that close. At other times it was like a mirage. The more I ran up to it with all my desire and force, the more it moved away, dazzling me with its possibilities. The pursuit was all the more frustrating. But I kept my momentum on, hoping against hope that one day I would catch it and free myself into it.
This feeling of uncertainty however, was not new. I had experienced it before; at every juncture of my life. Any human being, anywhere in the world, at some point faces this uncertainty, this helplessness and this inability to take a decision. Some of them come out of it sooner than later and some remain there. Yet another group of people keep going in and out of this feeling of uncertainty throughout their lives. They are some kind of epic characters, destined to fail and end their lives in tragedy. Perhaps, their lives look successful for others but in reality they know intimately and painfully that their life is a tragedy beyond definition. If they could talk about the tragedy, it would have alleviated them from the pain of living it. If they could arrive at a decision whenever such decisions were demanded they would have lived a peaceful life. But something perpetually haunts them and hunts them down. Most of the people prefer to find their paths by the age of thirty and even if they don’t, whatever path available is taken for a chosen one. It could be a routine one, still they make peace with it and move on. I have seen a lot of my friends doing it. One of them could have been a wonderful poet; but he became an advocate. One of them could have become an actor but he became a shop owner. One of them was really good at martial arts. But he became a contractor. Whenever I see them, I do not find any conflict in them. They have taken their paths quite naturally. But people like me are like Hamlet; characters caught between desire and duty, and determination and doubts. End of the day, such people lead a very painful life. But those lives, provided they register it for the posterity, might impart some experiences, if not lessons.
An artist is such an epic character with very few provisions to vivify himself or herself other than the chosen mediums that they have. Even if they have chosen their mediums, we cannot say that they have hit the right path or taken the right turn. At some point they feel that they are in the right path and soon they realize that the path that they have taken is not enough. A search for perpetual renewal is bound to happen then. Who is going to help them in finding the right path? They may be fifty years old or even seventy. But still they face the same issue. Have they been right all these while, despite all the success, fame and glory? A true artist is worried about his present stance because he is still sceptical about his creativity. He and his works may look quite resolved but still he is in throes which nobody could understand. The silent pain that such creative people undergo makes them ever fresh and meaningful, and their works reflect such freshness. Their immense experience could guide you but they would warn you that they have not yet found their right path. They will not warn you with words or works. They will warn you with a sort of kindness as well as indifference. If you don’t understand the artistic indifference of an apparently resolved creative person, you just don’t understand him or his works. I have seen many women, who look so resolved but still searching for the right path to come in front of them. Women artists could make wonderful art but they do not do it generally because they are afraid of hitting the right path even when it manifests right in front of them. I am not being judgemental here.
In 2005, when I was looking for the right direction or waiting for something to happen to me, the only medium through which I could free myself from the fear of insecurity was writing. Writing was a way of abandoning everything that I had; job, money and family security. When you write and write like a warrior you cannot be within a defined system. You have to get out there and write. When you are war with yourself and the system that has made you a slave, there cannot be any kindness, primarily not even unto yourself. You have to be utterly unkind and do things as if you were doing it for the first and last time in your life. When you do it for the first time you do not know what exactly or how exactly you are doing it. When you are doing it the last time and you know it that it is the last time and there is no final chance again, then you do it with finesse. So your writings have the freshness of beginner and the skill of a seasoned writer. I liberated myself, as I had done many times before that by just writing about my life. I wrote continuously for a few days and finished ninety pages. Once I finished those pages I thought how little my life had. When I read those pages I felt I was utterly insignificant. Knowing that insignificance was the only way to free myself forever, and I was sure that I would come to the same dead end again and again in future too. Then I just took the autobiography of a sex worker written in Malayalam and started translating it into English. Nobody asked me to do it. But that was the way I found for myself to free myself from routine and fear. Once I finished that translation, I heard that a major publication brought out the translation of the same book exactly after a week I finished my translation. I smiled at myself. But that was just a beginning. I was setting myself free before I became a slave several times later on. In the coming sections I will write about all those experiences of freeing myself through writing, translating and living a life in freedom at least in an inner zone where nobody binds me with any rules or regulations or conditions. Very few people could enter that space inside me, only if they could love me unconditionally, with love, care and respect. I invite only those people to read the following chapters.