I must have been in the third standard when i first started reading Louisa May Alcott’s celebrated novel Little Women. The nine-year-old in me was awed and amazed by the innocence and ambience of the novel, and treasured the book like a priceless possession. Among the characters, it was the shy, sober, and homely Elizabeth March of whom i was the most fond of. Beth’s character taught me a lot about fortitude and self-sacrifice, and the untangled simplicities of a domestic life. However it was Amy March whom i looked up to and actually wanted to be like. The reason behind it was her interest in art. I had a high opinion of the spoiled Amy on grounds of her artistic skills. I wanted to be an artist like her too.
It took me almost two years to realize that drawing, sketching, and painting were things i could never really be good at. Every year during the Talent Search Festival at school i filled up forms for the Painting competition, only to return home terribly disappointed the day the results were announced. Never in my life did i win even a consolation prize in an art competition. But my tireless spirit refused to give in. Everyday, after school, i devoted almost two hours with my drawing papers, crayons, sketchpens and water colours. I even insisted my parents to find for me a private tutor who could help me with art, though my parents shrugged me off good-humouredly. I refused to believe that i made a terrible artist. The fact disturbed and discouraged me even more since till then, i believed , that art was the sole talent which existed in me. I gave up the hope of improving and winning trophies. The selfish side of me secretly pronounced all art competition judges as biased and partial. For me they were people who could never understand what they were judging. I closed my eyes for the reality was bitter. And thus i walked away from art when i was eleven.
That year during the Talent Search Fest i didn’t fill forms for the painting competition. However on the insistent request of my best friend i applied for the essay competition. On the day of the results, i wore an indifferent face because i never believed that i could ever win any competition which required us to have a way with words. Writing was certainly not my cup of tea. Atleast till that day. When the results were announced, i was taken aback when i heard my name to be the winner in the ‘Junior’ category. I still remember that moment of disbelief. Suddenly painting seemed to me like an ex-boyfriend for whom i felt nothing. And since then it’s all about writing – about expressing in words things i plainly observe.
First it became a hobby, a pass time. I started maintaining journals and diaries and tried my hands in prose and poetry just for the fun of it. Unlike painting, i never over-estimated myself in the case of writing. But as the days steeped by, writing became a passion, an obsession that made me tick. And best of all, in this passion, i also found a purpose – a purpose to relieve all the beautiful moments of my life through my words , to remember them by, and to share them with the world. Joining all the dots, i don’t know whether i am a good writer or not. What i know and understand is that i am passionate about writing.
Perhaps my story would have been a slightly more fairytale-like had i emerged victorious as an artist after those numerous defeats as a pre-teen in school competitions. But life is more plain, dull, and boring. I failed as an artist but i found my identity as a writer, and i refuse to call writing a substitute for my disasters with painting. Infact, i believe that a passion for words was always imbibed in me. My failures helped me to revive it. It was a long enough process through which i realized whenin resided my most earnest zeal. But i have also know people who discovered for what they are passionate about in less than six months’ time.
Abu Basad Obaidul Goni, a Guwahati based business man, and a good friend of mine is today appreciated by many for his skills as a photographer. There are many who have placed him in a pedestal and go to him asking for professional training in photography. But what these people don’t know is that almost a year ago, this man did not even own a camera. When he bought his camera, it was more out of pleasure, than passion. His numerous experiments with his new ‘gadget’ made him bump upon the conclusion that he could actually click good pictures. He tells me that photography, as a passion – or rather a pastime, is gaining more popularity due to the availability of a number of social networking sites. “ There are many who would have stopped clicking pictures had there been no Facebook where they could garner rewards in the form of ‘likes’. We should actually thank the networking sites for giving an impetus to our passions.” He admits that owning a high quality camera is never an indication that one is a good photographer. It is the quality of a photograph which can estimate who’s a good photographer and who’s not. And quality can be improved only when the driving force is our passion. On being asked if he would like to follow the footsteps of Farhan Qureshi of 3Idiots, he calmly retorts that photography is only his passion, and not his profession.
A little bit of self-exploration is all that is required to discover our passions. Sometimes our pass-times of childhood turn into earnest passions and sometimes we realize our passions out of the blue. It is inherent in every human being. All that is required is to scratch the surface and find it out. Just like i found out the Josephine March in me, while i was buzy searching for Amy March.
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