I borrowed the title for this post from one of my favorite poems, I read it in class nine or ten, I would have been fifteen then, I am almost thirty five today, and the poem is as much a favorite as it is relevant to my life.
It's amazing how you can be hooked to the most mundane things, writing for example. Since the time I started to write, less than a month ago, my mind's always having a conversation with itself about what to write, how to write. It does not matter anymore if people read it or not, if they like it or not, if they comment or not. For once, I write for myself. I write to talk to some imaginary -- and some real -- people who have the time and inclination to talk to me, listen to me.
I have also been reading some posts from a blog lately, some of these take me back in time -- fifteen years to be precise. This is when I had just passed out of school and had no idea what I wanted from life. I knew only two things, one: I wanted to be independent; two: I did not want to be a doctor or an engineer like everyone else around me wanted to or at least pretended to.
Well meaning relatives, family friends and parents of friends kept pestering me with questions that made me utterly uncomfortable. The most common being, "so you have opted for biology, you want to be a doctor?". It was difficult to explain to people that studying biology does not make you a doctor and that my parents and I were perfectly all right with me not having a career choice.
Then one day, I saw an advertisement in the newspapers, they wanted some inputs and write ups on various hot topics of those times. I think, for the first time, I really wanted to do something. I wrote and posted or may be handed over the write up to the TOI office and it was selected. Gradually, it became a routine. Reading my write ups in the newspaper was such a high! That is when I decided I wanted to write, I wanted to be a journalist. Everyday, while driving to college, I would look at the newly constructed white building of Hindustan Times and promised myself that this is where I will be, soon.
But as they say, "Destiny grants us our wishes, but in its own way; in order to give us something beyond our wishes" I was in Delhi for a holiday, when my father chanced upon some openings. It spoke about needing people who can talk well. He asked me to talk to them. Now, talking is something I could never do, I never could muster courage to even talk in front of my class mates, how could I attempt to go in for a job that required me to talk? I ignored. Next day, I was ordered to make that call. Since I did not have an option, I called. Surprisingly they selected me and I was called for an interview. I was selected there too.
That is when reality struck. On one hand was a dream: finding stories, reporting them, writing them. On the other was reality: a swank office, good money, the works. It is then that I chose. I chose what I had, instead of what I wished for. I had my reasons. I had not been selected in IIMC and I would not go to a second grade school. I have always believed in excelling in what I do, however insignificant the task might be and that is what I lived by all in the nine years that I worked, when I could not, I quit.
In retrospect, I don't think I made a mistake. I might not have done half as good as a journalist as I eventually did. I loved every minute of my work. I toiled day and night. There were times I worked for fifteen hours at a stretch often for days at end. My bosses loved me, my teams admired me, my clients ate out of my hands. My work gave me everything, and now that its gone, I often feel lost, sometimes suffocated and always incomplete.
If work was like a well thought of marriage, writing was like the first love, often irrational and unrealistic. While you might be absolutely happy in your marriage, there are times you yearn to be in the arms of your lover.
Maybe now I can go back to my love, my dream -- of writing. So what if no one reads it, so what if it is never printed, so what if my name will never be in the papers. I can still write for myself.
Oh! by the way, the poem:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
|And sorry I could not travel both|
|And be one traveler, long I stood|
|And looked down one as far as I could|
|To where it bent in the undergrowth;|
|Then took the other, as just as fair,|
|And having perhaps the better claim,|
|Because it was grassy and wanted wear;|
|Though as for that the passing there|
|Had worn them really about the same,|
|And both that morning equally lay|
|In leaves no step had trodden black.|
|Oh, I kept the first for another day!|
|Yet knowing how way leads on to way,|
|I doubted if I should ever come back.|
|I shall be telling this with a sigh|
|Somewhere ages and ages hence:|
|Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—|
|I took the one less traveled by,|
|And that has made all the difference|