Much to my very own disappointment, math was never my strong suit. From the tender age of 5, when I entered the first grade and stared at the numbers put up on the chalkboard, my brain failed to comprehend the peculiar bends and curves of numbers. I'd been quite an existential child, by which I mean I would spend 20 minutes each morning staring into my reflection in the mirror and wondering just who I was. Why did I look the way I looked, why did I speak the way I spoke, why did my words bear no value, why was I really here. With numbers, I could never understand why each individual had the value it did. Why was 2 double or twice? Who had the right to give it that value? Why did I have to listen to it?

Conversely, English wasn't a puzzle. Yes, it had weird laws that existed for the simple case of existing, but these rules weren't rigid. Or atleast, I never left entirely inclined to follow them. A sentence couldn't begin with "but", but that didn't mean I couldn't start my sentences with "but". However, at that age, I didn't really care for the fluidity with which language existed. I was simply indifferent to its nuances and glad for its simplicity. It was only 3 years later that my true journey with writing began. I spent much of my early years moving—from house to house and from country to country. When it all finally came to a rest, I was put in a school wherein I would spend the next 7 years of my life. After the sweat-filled months of June and July, August came with deep downpours that seemingly amplified the dread that hung over early mornings spent in assembly lines.

I Wrote, But It Felt Inadequate

I felt my writing was lacking and cast it aside.

On one particularly rainy day, my English teacher decided to give us a creative writing assignment. It was the first time, in what left like years, that I simply let my mind wander and described whatever came to my mind. At nine, my lexical field was highly limited and my knowledge of grammar consisted of full stops and exclamation points. After finishing that assignment, I felt a deep sense of contentment. This didn't last very long, for as soon as I saw another kid's writing, I knew mine was lacking, so I simply cast aside any desire to write. I only wrote when I was supposed to, for English class, for competitions and never tried to do more. Instead, I read.

Being introverted, books became a source of comfort and protection to me during my late childhood years. I read anything I could find and understand. When I couldn't understand, I let the swiggly shape of the letters loom around in my mind for however long they chose to stay there. Slowly, my writing became better but increasingly detached from me. My expressions were manufactured and appropriate for class. If they came too close, I would feel a wave of terror wash over me and hide what I had written.

Writing A Poem Forever Changed Me

It wasn't until the 8th grade that this changed. During a late October afternoon, when the sky held the uncomfortable heat of a retreating monsoon, my teacher announced that we would be writing poetry in class.

I wrote the poem and forever changed.

Having never been an avid reader or writer of poems, I was scared. For one thing, I detested rhyme. If anything, my 13-year-old brain longed to purge the existence of infantile lullabies and songs I knew. They whey, no where go somewhere; I hated all of it.

For another thing, I had simply never tried to compose a poem and found myself feeling incredibly inadequate to my peers who had written poems. Nevertheless, I wrote the poem and forever changed. It was like the words being printed on my page lit a hibernating desire within my being. I no longer could keep my thoughts and feelings hidden; they simply burst through me and landed on paper. In the years to come, writing became the only anchor I had. It was my own and no one could steal it from me. I wrote when my mind became a sea storm and the world around me ceased to make sense. I wrote when the world closed down around me during the pandemic. I wrote exclusively in my sadness and misery because I couldn't imagine writing in happiness. My art was born out of my misery, or so I told myself.

The thing I had held onto became the very thing I was repulsed by.

I wrote because I had the desire to be the best. Where I had failed for most of my life, writing was where I could excel. Where no one could question my legitimacy or the space I took. I wrote so I could look smart with my big sentences and even bigger words. I wrote for revenge and for salvation until I was dry. Until my hands left countless blank papers and I was left void of words. Suddenly, the thing I had held onto with such force became the very thing I was repulsed by. I couldn't bear to look at what I had written and picked apart every word. When you love something so deeply, you end up hating it too. I had grown detached from everything. I couldn't bring myself to read or write or talk to the few friends I had.

In January of this year, I began again. Instead of forcing myself to draw out my wounds and pain. Instead, I just wrote. Whatever came to my mind, I wrote on paper. With this, I began to fall in love with the normalcy of my life. Of the steps I took as I walked the broken streets of my city. Instead of powerful waves that crash into rocks, my soul calmed and tread lightly.

I write today because it gives me comfort. I write because there is so much to love and care for. Much like my garden grows with the sun, I grow with my words. This is why I write.

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