THE AMMEE IN ME!
I started my journey as a writer at an age when usually people are at the peak of their respective careers. Although my first article was published in Dawn when I had already crossed 55, slowly and steadily I have worked hard to carve out a name for myself amongst the regular contributors to the Inpage magazines (The Review and Young World) of this reputed newspaper. With only scattered articles in a number of other newspapers and magazines, I cannot boast to be a top achiever, but as (by nature) I am not a very ambitious person, I am fairly content with what I have done.
The other day, while searching for something totally different, I accidentally stumbled on this definition on Wikipedia and it set the ball of thoughts rolling. Can I call myself a late bloomer? I wonder!
According to Wikipedia, “A late bloomer is a person whose talents or capabilities are not visible to others until later than usual. The term is used metaphorically to describe a child or adolescent who develops more slowly than others in their age group, but eventually catches up and in some cases overtakes their peers, or an adult whose talent or genius in a particular field only appears later in life than is normal – in some cases only in old age.”
People often ask me why I started writing so late in my life! With a smile I reply, “Things were destined to be this way”. The truth is that I myself have no answer to this question! Hailing from a rather conservative family and being a full time home maker and mother a major part of my life, I had never imagined even in my wildest dreams that I would write articles at any stage of my life and that my compiled books would be published by a very reputable publisher (thanks, Ferozsons!)
Yes, I was good at writing essays during my school and college life, often getting a grudging praise from our very strict English teacher at school. Sometimes I cannot help smiling when I remember how I dreaded her! Having a great proficiency on English language and excellence in Grammar, she was the best teacher one could wish to have. But her sarcastic remarks when I (or my peers) made mistakes drove me mad! But today I am thankful to her on the way she grilled in me the rules of Grammar, taught me how to expand my vocabulary and instilled in me the writing skills which I haven’t forgotten to this day (although decades have passed to that stage of my life.)
Sorry readers, I have meandered away from what I actually wanted to write today. Maybe one of the disadvantages of blogging is that you are less focused, even more so when you are maintaining a personal blog site. No editors, no words limit! You just allow your thoughts to flow as you keep on hitting your keyboard!
As I read the above mentioned definition of a late bloomer, an incident from my early childhood came to my mind. Ammi often used to relate it laughingly. I was hardly six when a visitor asked me fondly “Baby aap baree ho ke kya baneingee?” (Baby what do you want to be when you grow up?) Without looking up from the doll I was playing with, and without taking a moment to think, my instant reply was “Ammee” (a mother). I looked up in surprise when the visitor and my mother burst out in laughter. “Adults are so weird! Now what is the joke in my reply?” I am sure I must have thought to myself as I went back to my toys!
And Ammee I became at a rather young age! As fate had planned, or may be a passing angel had said Amen to my innocent childhood goals, I was married when I was in my late teens and became a mother just after I crossed my 21st birthday! For years, my life revolved round my four kids, who are dearer to me than anything else in the world.
I tried hard to be a good mother and shape the personalities of my children to the best of my abilities. Coaxing them, urging them and at times bullying them to bring out the best in them, the Ammee in me was vigilant and active throughout the years they were growing up! At times, I longed for some respite, for a few hours which I could devote to myself, but more often than not, my kids kept me busy round the clock! Maybe the mother in me, the perfectionist who wanted to settle for nothing but the best for her children, kept me on the go throughout that hectic but enjoyable part of my life. Every milestone that my children crossed was like a personal accomplishment for me and every compliment they received brought a rush of adrelin!
Years fly and time moves at a fast pace! As life moved on, the children grew up and settled down in their lives, I found myself free with long hours to spend according to my whims and moods. But strangely, instead of a sense of relief, I was surprised to find a feeling of loneliness silently descending upon my heart. I had no idea about what to do with this extra time I once longed for!
And this is when the breakthrough came! My daughter-in-law, who is more a friend for me than a Bahu suggested, “Ammi, why don’t you start writing?” I was surprised and a bit flattered too! Writing for magazines was something I had never contemplated I could do. Although I wrote poetry on and off and maintained my memoirs in which I shared my life’s moments of joy, excitement, anguish and despair, this suggestion was something totally new for me. A field which I had never explored or even thought I would at some stage of life!
But her suggestion excited me. Why not? I thought to myself, I have nothing to lose except the disappointment of rejection. I started sending in articles to various publications and to my delight (and surprise too), my submissions started to appear at fair intervals in the magazines of a leading daily Dawn.
Maintain a blogsite was the next step which I found more fulfilling. This is my domain, a place where I can struggle to improve, experiment, create! Just as in the by-gone years I worked hard to bring out the best in my children, I coax, prod, push and sometimes bully myself to do something positive, I write and re-write, try my best to keep on improving what I have initially written. I want to express my ideas and inspirations in the best possible manner.
Over the years I have been working as a writer, the Ammee in me is never completely satisfied or fulfilled! Creating something new gives me a strange sense of joy mixed with pangs of pain. I do not want to confuse my readers, but I think only a mother or a true writer can understand what I mean!
Just like the tough task of raising children to be good and positive adults, and the satisfaction which followed after I found myself fairly successful, writing is not something easy for me! I sometimes feel I have to pour out my heart’s blood to create something worth reading. Every new experience of writing brings a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, but it also leaves me spent out, exhausted and a bit dazed after the endeavor.
As a mother, I remember never being satisfied with my children’s performance, always wanting and expecting them to do better. In the same manner I am never content after writing something. Always a bit shaky, I read and re read what I have written, making changes here and there to make a piece more powerful. Bekaar hi hai! (It’s worthless) I tell myself after posting a piece. But I must admit feeling a rush of Adrelin when likes and comments on my writings start coming in!
The urge to write something new, to create, to improve keeps me on the go! The strong and inborn maternal instincts in me have helped a lot as a mother and a writer too! The Ammee in me lives on! Alhumdulillah!