Why I Write: To Be Better In Absence Than I Can Be As A Presence
- I write because writing allows me to become someone else.
- In as much as I’m a woman, writing allows me to become a man.
- In as much as I’m a man, writing allows me to become a woman.
- It allows me the rawness of experience that I would otherwise only get from changing diapers or letting a sleeping baby slobber on my chest. The rawness of experience that even sex cannot bring.
- But I write because it lets me experience desire that doesn’t haunt me in real life.
- Like licking the back of the neck of a kind, tender man.
- Like staring at the sweaty upper lip of a woman and feeling thirst as I’ve never felt before.
- I write because it allows me to escape labels. Queer or straight.
- Man or woman.
- Adult or child.
- I write because I remember. My fingers tell me incidents that are worth remembering. Then they appear on the page and actually happen.
- I write because I forget. My fingers and my pacing legs tell me what is worth forgetting. Usually, they are wrong. I write to celebrate the great lapses of their judgement.
- I write because I’m not a painter. I cannot write about you while you are before me, in the room, in my life. I can write about you only when you’re gone, when I’ve lost you. When I can remember and forget you.
- For me, only the absent ones are worth writing about. The present rarely rise to the occasion, or my keyboard.
- Please abandon me. So that I may write about you.
- I write because I am distracted. Because I’m not paying attention to what you are telling me. All I see is the way you keep adjusting your glasses as you speak, fighting the imaginary fear of them falling off. I guess the bridge of your nose is slippery with sweat and makes the glasses slide down endlessly. Or perhaps it is dry as dust and that it is the intensity of the words that make you sense the impending and fictitious doom of a nosy mishap.
- I’m not being very nice to you. Not listening to you, just staring at your glasses and the fingers that keep offering them uplift even though they are not fallen. I write because I cannot listen to you, but only to your fingers.
- I write because you write something that cuts like a cold flame through me, and suddenly, I begin to desire you. Desire you all the way through the fingers that wrote the words, past the long arms through which they floated like blood, through the curve of the shoulders that had to bear their burden. I write because that’s the only way I can talk back.
- I write because I cannot do anything else with my body. Jump, play ball, break into a jig. Ask you to join me for a dance.
- I’m a sad human being. Stiff, unmusical, a real bore.
- I write because the words to which I give birth drain me of life. They live, laugh and love while I die.
- I write because you can touch me only when I’m gone.
- To be better in absence than I can be as a presence. That is why I write.
Photo Credit: Trent Erwin on Unsplash
Saikat Majumdar is the author of three novels – most recently, The Scent of God (2019), and The Firebird (2015). He has also published a book of literary criticism, Prose of the World (2013), and a work of general nonfiction, College: Pathways of Possibility (2018), on undergraduate education in India. He lives in Delhi and teaches English and Creative Writing at Ashoka University.