What is a career? With the drop of the second vowel, in the word, it’d mean a person who is a ‘care-giver’. The ‘care’ in the word ‘career’ is, undoubtedly, directed towards one’s self.

By building up a career, we ensure a secure and firm future. Today it is as important for girls to build a career for themselves as it is for the boys. Well, it had not been the same picture even a decade ago. But people’s mindsets are like mercury. They rise with jarring attitudes. My mother, who is a retired school teacher now, is an octogenarian. Having taught for more than three decades at a stretch, she is laying back her head and catching up on restful slumber, perhaps for the first time in her life.

My mother was and still continues to be, the idol in my life. It is her will power, courage and determination that I, most probably, have inherited in my genes. Whenever I’d stooped down, hurt or otherwise outwitted by someone who’s smarter, she’d always been the one among my parents to encourage me to start again from – yes – scratch. She’d been the one who’d gifted me with a red leather-bound diary on one of my birthdays, most probably in one of my teen years.

“You’ll write down your day-to-day activities here. You can also write some of your poems, if you want to.”

I had always looked up to my mother for mental strength. I still do. My writing career began with inputs to my beloved diary. I had given a name to it - Pixie. I read The Diary Of A Young Girl by Anne Frank much later onwards. I wrote down my personal musings – joys and sorrows, of daily life – into the pages of my diary. Letter writing came when I was close to completing my school years and was about to step into that green, alluring pasture – college days. Letter writing had been part of our curriculum in our school syllabi. But personal letters were something else. One could pour out one’s heart onto the page with the help of a pen. The e-mail days have, quite effectively, done away with the art of letter-writing.

So writing, as far as I was concerned, began in that manner in my life. But a turning point did come, as it comes in every other person’s lives. I had written a letter to the auteur-director Satyajit Ray when I was studying in the later part of my high school years. I had addressed a long letter to his Bishop Lefroy Road residence. Lo and behold! A reply in his inimitable handwriting arrived within the passage of a week’s time. I was ecstatic, jubilant and overwhelmed. In the letter (which I have treasured like a precious ornament or an heirloom), he had written that my letter had “greatly touched” him.

My parents, relatives and friends were extremely happy when I had informed them about Ray’s letter. It was then and only then, that I took my final decision. So far, I was encouraged to pursue my studies in the field of science. But because I loved and enjoyed writing, and also because it was my only way of self-expression (I am the only daughter of my parents), I decided that I’d take up English Literature to specialise in. Shakespeare, John Keats, Joseph Conrad, Henry James were read, a little bit voraciously. Ever since my childhood, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte had been one among my favourite books. I thanked God that it was never a part of the syllabi that I had to study right through my Masters’ Degree from the Calcutta University.

When we read and analysed a book for our rites of passage through the academic years, it’s bound to get interpreted in ways that even the writer perhaps wouldn’t have intended. I was a good student, but not an exceptionally bright one. I was lucky when my first exposure arrived, with a chance to make inputs with the then-largest circulating daily newspaper, The Statesman. My write-ups were appreciated and once, I vividly remember till today, one of my book reviews was published beside another one done by none other than C.R. Irani, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper, himself. So what had started out with dairy-writing, finally found an expression in free-lance journalism.

Creative writing was fated to come naturally. A brief workshop organised by the Eastern India division of the British Council, helped me to sort out my priorities. I wanted to become a writer – definitely so. Writing stories and poems are the best ways for expressing the creative urge on the one hand, and standing out among the crowd (if one’s got the talent!) on the other. I have had three published books till date. All of them have been received well by friends and well-wishers. And by that I mean to exclude Amazon rankings. The latter are hardly the scale of measurement so far as creative talent is concerned. They indicate the market value of a book and not its inherent merit.

Personally, I would surely recommend creative writing as a profession to pursue, provided one has the patience and the perseverance required for it. If ‘Nothing succeeds like success’ rings true, then Winston Churchill’s comment, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”, also holds ground. Success comes with unfailing perseverance and faith in one’s craft. And success is not always the measure of perfection or finesse. 

Saying this, I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone in this field, Good Luck and God Speed!!

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