Sunday, October 7, 2012

Consolation




One day I may begin an autobiography. 

But how does one begin an autobiography…? Straight from the childhood or from the day one learnt to hide pain? I think I should begin from the time I was a child, because babies don’t hide pain; they scream their lungs out when they feel pain. They scream when they need attention, and when they are hungry and cold. Babies demand love. The world of a baby is complete; supplied with everything it needs and wants. 
That is why the mere mention of childhood brings on happy memories. The soft and lazy picture of a distant past. The white cottages, placid lakes. Birthdays. The mango trees, swings, village visits, grandparents, memorable scratches and bruises, kites,  naughty cousins, kitchen stories, green fields, paper boats…
When people write their memoirs they try to go back to the departed happiness.Yes, I would call it Memoirs, as they provide a sort of protective anonymity-while a true autobiography requires courage.
Often the happiness is exaggerated but one likes to gloat over the days gone by... 
And no matter what, babies make happy beginnings.
I too had made a happy beginning.

On a wet September evening, while the world was busy looking at a soggy rainbow, a curled ball of crimson flesh entered the world, screaming its lungs out... (to be continued)

...She had told me once that to write a sincere autobiography one needs a great deal of grit and masochistic honesty. I believe her now.
I know how hard it is to lance the old wounds, pull away the brown, hardened skin, gnaw at the raw unhealed flesh, and still do not cringe. More often than not, autobiographers create a Frankenstein’s Monster like caricature, to tell the world how brave they are, hoping to provide recompense to themselves for all the inadequacies that life had thrown their way. People are too chicken-hearted to tell the brutal truth of why they  failed, cried, cheated and killed their soul. Would I be able to write about my ‘not so good self’? The blemishes, the flaws, the foolish mistakes that I have made, the wet, dark bits of me... if I choose to write a story about myself?
I know that I can bear the past only in small, measured doses. I can attack it only like a commando camouflaged in the thickets. I can only tip toe around the corridor of my memories and pick up the tiny fragments of moments, cautiously, listen to the soft pitter- patter of the tiny feet of childhood, the feather light airy steps of my teenage years, and then the sluggish footsteps of approaching years… the years where one gathers disillusionment and then calls it- wisdom.
The insularity of a fragmented memoir would bring about that consolation- which we need when we cannot fix up all our wounds- because the act of writing a memoir is often a consolation prize to self, for life’s discrepancies and unfairness.
How I hated consolation prizes. I used to get them in loads at school. Music, debates, singing competition and sports. The ‘also ran’ trophy. Their purpose is to console the loser, dilute the effects of loss, but they made me feel cold, lonely and bruised. I tried hiding them when I came home, and She would be there with her open beaming smile, arms spread in a wide sweep to hug me. Another consolation.
My first thought when She patted my back would be, ‘I have failed her.’ 

Probably my memoir, even if it were published by some quirk of fate, would lie in an obscure corner of a crammed shelf at some dusty bookshop. It would get transferred from one set of listless fingers to another, and would be the recipient of cursory glances only. The impatient fingers would be pushing it away to reach for a more attractive title and popular author.My story would impassively be pushed back among endless rows of, ‘ignored books.'
Perhaps I need to write it for myself. To quell the noises. To seek some retribution from fate. For liberation. For consolation. 
Yet again.


Picture by: Stephen Alvarez

4 comments:

Sy said...

I can really relate to this...recently finished writing my own book...
thisrestlesssoul.blogspot.com
sy

Nazia Mallick said...

Thanks Saira. Congratulations! I wish you loads of luck for your book.

I have been reading your write ups and I love the sensitivity and reflection. I see some of my deeper emotions reflected there, and it's a great feeling.

Magus said...

emmm, well all i can here is that why be a masochist and delve into the dark corners of the mind..only to scratch old wounds? this sort of literature will only come out in a sadistic fashion.

Everybody has their own share of struggle. Why not write something more optimistic? Something which will give hope to the reader and the courage to see dreams..and fight their own odds too.

we must learn to count our blessings... God has his own ways of testing his favourites! :)

Nazia Mallick said...

Yep, you are right. But, when Pandora's box was opened 'Hope' came out too:)
Memoirs are about good and bad both.One cannot pick the good only from one's lives and relegate the bad, just to be publicly accepted. That won't be honest. Preoccupation with goodness, optimism and morality makes a writer's work, especially a memoir, false and boring.