Md Faizaan

Written and published on 20th October, 2018

I like writing. I used to write when I was young. Poems, short stories, fanfics and whatnot. But pursuing hobbies is hard. Growing up in India, I felt it was harder. Everything eventually turns to a competition. Competing in creative endeavours became a norm. I did like it too - I won my fair share of writing/speaking competitions but after a point, I realized I just didn't want to write or do public speaking anymore. Then came a really stressful period of my life - secondary school.

Indian parents treat it as do or die moment for their children's careers which pushes them to take almost draconian measures - enrolling kids in tuition for almost every subject, boarding schools, "strict" schools and cutting down on entertainment - no cell phones, no Internet etc. My parents were very reasonable in this aspect and I'm very grateful for that. I always had to access to my devices and Internet. They did end up enrolling me in a "strict" school but that was for other reasons. To be quite honest, I still believe that the two years of secondary school have stunted a lot of my emotional growth and gave me quite a few mental health issues. Maybe I'll write about it someday. An unfortunate thing about "strict" schools is that, they do a lot to strip you of any individuality - reduce you to a score/grade, do not provide many avenues for creative pursuits (my school did do that but in a very frenzied, competitive sense) and finally, worst of all, discourage human relationships - a friendship between opposite genders was grounds for punishment and even friendship between the same sex was not entertained in the sense "they would cause ruckus". All this while, studying and studying, I had stopped reading or writing or doing anything outside of studying.

At the end of it, I got good marks and got into a really good college and that in Indian society somehow means it was okay to suffer for two years. Was it though? Should delayed gratification come at the cost of mental health? Is anything worth one's individuality? I think the answer is no, but it has been hard teaching myself that. Internalized "suffer now, to prosper later" is a huge Indian phenomenon which only leaves people disillusioned when they don't prosper later or at least not in the sense they envisioned it when they were suffering. But I digress. College had started and I finally found some of my lost individuality again. Here, grades did not define you, there were clubs which encouraged creative endeavours and human relationships were never looked down upon - in fact some of my closest friends are from my time in college.

Around the end of my first semester, my friends and I started a website posting the latest tech news which we came across. I was given the responsibility of being the editor. I had also started to write a little. It wasn't the type of writing I wanted to do, but I was happy I got to write again. I also started to read again. I read through the entire A Song of Ice and Fire in 20 days. I completed the entire Naruto manga in under 15 days. They look like pointless achievements to remember but holding to those small things has been my way of defining myself. The guy who completed ASoIaF in 20 days feels more meaningful to me than the guy who got 98% in his twelfth grade.

Around my last year, I wrote for the first time the kind of stuff I wanted to write about - fiction. Ironically, I did it for a competition. Still, I enjoyed writing it.

I wish to write more though. Maybe writing this out will slowly help me in achieving that goal.