When I was studying in college and the university, I would dream- of being a writer. A voice said: if you want to be one you must read. Reading then, in Freudian terms was a terrific wish fulfillment. You have to read voraciously to write the voice again declared. I also wanted to write poetry, ever since as a child I loved to recite poetry, on the stage as well as off it!
The spoken word enthralled my gut, my captive imagination, took me to dizzy heights of imagination, and an exploratory nether world.
Then in college my first foray into the world of existentialism was Camus' 'Outsider'. I read Kafka, Sartre, Simone De Beauvoir, Moravia in a fetish frenzy- most of the time without 'understanding' but entranced with the mystifying effects of language, which arguably was a good way to spend time, but also was a transportation to esoteric realities. I loved the recondite, the hidden, the mysterious and even the abstruse. Meanings, and understanding were no consideration, what was important was, in Stephen Spender's words; 'Worlds Within Worlds...'. Then followed a glut of poetry.
After all I would be the much derided 'Indo English' poet. Neruda, Quasimodo, Montale, Gullen came in a rush. There was a heady feeling, and I was reeling under the effect and after effect of words, poetry that was at once lyrical and irreverent. Pritish Nandy took me to a cataclysmic world, Nissim Ezekiel to India's sorrows and pathos, Kamala Das to a haunting love, Jayanta Mahapatra, to nature, sultry love and mythic structures.
Then I must write now I declared. No editor was willing to read my written words, let alone to publish them. Rejection slips came with alarming alacrity. Acceptances if they came was a rarity, like summer heat in Shillong; and if they were accepted I never came to know about them.
Indian editors were peculiarly sadistic, if they rejected they gleefully told you so, if they accepted, they did not! My first poem that was published was in a Bombay based magazine 'Home Life'. The editor a priest, informed me of the good news. Because he was a priest, he did so. I am eternally grateful to him. Getting prose published was as tough. The Indian Express, The Times Of India did not deign to look at my 'middles'. Only The Sentinel from Gauhati and The Telegraph from Calcutta were compassionate. They published my sticky, gelatinous prose!
I am grateful to Dhiren Bezboruah the editor of The Sentinel for encouraging me to write, I can never forget his kind gestures, to allow the fledgling me to write. Another way out was to write Letters To The Editor, strike an irate or angry tone, that worked!
Indian journalism was coming of age! Writing became like breathing, but work was also breathing down heavily on my strangulated neck. I had joined the IGNOU, and got to know that all Government organizations were not pushovers! I still work there, but now I write with more certitude and regularity. Thanks IGNOU, students calling at midnight does the trick, puts that much adrenalin into your tonsured self, so much so, that; there must be some cleansing. My story as a writer will not be a best seller, but for me it is one of the cutting edges of my life. Hip hip hurray.