When I was around six or seven years old, I remember walking into my father’s home office in Hong Kong where we visited him and stayed with him for a few months every year and being entranced by the desk there. The office was more of a small storage room and the desk occupied most of the space. I remember walking up to the revolving chair and sitting down on it gingerly. Abbu was not around and I don’t know where my mother or younger brother were, so holding on to the armrest, I tried to get the revolving chair to move. This was fun but my father never let me do it too often, and so, sensing an opportunity, I whirled and whirled until my head spun.

I can write, I thought. This was the one thing that kept me focused through those tumultuous years when my life felt like a seesaw of emotions. I can write.

As the chair wobbled to a stop and nausea cleared, my hands rested on the scratched surface of the desk. I immediately realised I wanted one. Why? I don’t know why, but the thought that I wanted to be a writer, crept into my head all of a sudden. I could sit at a desk and compose stories, I thought, with all the naivety of a child.

Over the years, that memory became faint and I forgot all about it, even when Abbu got me a new desk for my room where I could sit and study. Years later, when I was going through a period of anxiety during my teens because I was still not clear about what I would do in my life, the desk or the resolution didn’t come back to me even then. I could only see my classmates walk around with self-assured confidence as they went about planning to write entrance exams for medicine and engineering. I still flailed about in my head, unsure of what lay ahead.

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At a talk given by an old writer whose name I unfortunately don’t remember, she spoke about how writing was the one thing one could do, no matter where they were. This resonated with me because during that time, even though I was just 18, there were talks of my marriage surfacing already. How could I dream of a career if everything would be cut short by marriage, I wondered.

I can write, I thought. This was the one thing that kept me focused through those tumultuous years when my life felt like a seesaw of emotions. I can write.

I didn’t know if I could become a writer, or if anything I wrote would ever be published. That dream was too far-fetched. Seeing my name on a book? Impossible, but I didn’t think that far. I just focused on writing a story. At 20, I was married and was expecting a baby and the days lay ahead of me like a continuous tedium and I took to writing stories to alleviate it. And I realised that writing had opened up a whole new world for me.

When my children were small, writing was not my biggest priority. There was no tedium, but there was no time either. When they started school, I found that window of opportunity once more, time that was my own and I would switch on the lumbering desktop at home and find myself filled with a sort of eagerness, about creating something new.

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Now, a little more than 20 years have passed since I first decided to seriously become a writer and I’m happy to have accomplished more than whatever I set out to do. At that time, I would have been thrilled had I managed to write even one book. It would have been a feat indeed. I remember the feeling of sheer relief the day I finished writing my first book. It had felt like climbing a mountain and standing at the summit.

I write now because it’s a compulsion. I write because I don’t know what else I can do. I write because I think I have the capacity to live several enriching lives through my characters, to see their stories come to fruition.

I finished writing the next book in less than four months. That called for a celebration and I remember getting my kids with me on my scooty and heading to the nearest Cake Walk where they ate all manners of chocolate pastries along with me. But they didn’t really understand why they were getting the treat and neither did they care. It was anyway a celebration in my head.

Today, with 23 books (and counting) behind me, I find this reality, a little surreal. I look at the bookshelf with my books on it and I can’t fathom how the characters from my head leapt off my mind onto my computer and are now existing on other bookshelves too.

I write now because it’s a compulsion. I write because I don’t know what else I can do. I write because I think I have the capacity to live several enriching lives through my characters, to see their stories come to fruition. I write because I simply cannot imagine doing anything else. From being a hobby to something I was doing once in a while to now becoming an extremely integral part of my life, writing is how I live my life.

Also Read: Why I Write: Writing Allows Me A Deeper Quest To My Own Meaning

Andaleeb Wajid is a Bangalore-based writer who has published twenty-three novels till date. She likes to write about relationships, weddings, romance, food, and even haunted houses. Andaleeb’s popular novels include The Crunch Factor, More than Just Biryani, and House of Screams. Her novel When She Went Away, a Young Adult coming-of-age book was shortlisted for The Hindu Young World-Goodbooks Awards 2017.

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