Seeking solace in words

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For someone who loves words, situations or emotions of any kind can only be truly felt and experienced or overcome by reading or writing. For some, it’s the former. They seek words already written, prose or poetry. For others, they need to carve words on paper, they need to put letters together and just write.

For some of us, our lives are mostly spent through words. We write,  tweet,  talk or   read. We have a never ending relationship with words. As someone who is surrounded by words at her workplace, I don’t abandon words once I leave office. They follow me everywhere, the Twitter app, my notebook and whatever book I’m reading at that moment. My mother often scolds me for carrying so many books around with me. My bag is always so heavy, and this is because I feel naked without a book to read and a book to write in.

Words play a huge role in my life, and with the sudden death of my grandmother, someone I love, depended on and spent most of my life with, I turned to words for comfort and closure. However, I couldn’t fill the ‘compose new tweet’ box with 140 or less characters. I couldn’t fill my notebook with words. Whatever I wrote, I couldn’t complete. It was a strange form of writer’s block and it meant I was agitated and scared that I would never be able to write again.
Words offer comfort. They let you feel what you want to and have to feel. They tell you that it is okay to cry or laugh. Words and letters are beautiful, and those curves and corners, angles and spaces in between give room for a heart that needs to rest or a mind that wants to untangle the mess within.

In most houses, there is a piece of furniture that is old, well-used, but still comfortable. Often family members fight for this chair or sofa or bed. We have one of those, Athamma’s cane armchair. During mealtimes, we would wait for the seat to be vacated so we could sit on it. However, my favorite place to sit wasn’t that chair. It was on Athamma’s bed, leaning against her and laughing as her tummy rumbled, or leaning against the headboard, my legs on Athamma’s hip. We used to lie like that a lot, especially on Sundays, as I read and Athamma napped or we talked about various things.

We shared a lot of words. We spoke a lot. She would tell me about her childhood memories, her life, something she read online or a film she had watched. I would tell her about work, my life, ask for advice and empty my heart. Even though we spent few days away from each other, she has also written to me; on cards for birthdays or other special occasions and emails when I was away on holiday or we had had an argument. She too, loved words.

So when I lost my shoulder to cry on, my warm and soft pillow, I turned to my next source of comfort; words. Following the first few days of being unable to write, I took up my need to write and read. I realized that within the words I put down, there were feelings I didn’t know could be stamped to page as letters are drawn. When reading, I find myself associating my memories (especially of Athamma) with scenes of the book or poem. And this allowed me to understand what I have lost in life and how I need to deal with this.

Whenever someone tells me they don’t read or write, I’m shocked and surprised that people can survive without words. It seems impossible for me. Someone who doesn’t love words or doesn’t spend most of their life with words may not see the beauty of those various characters, regardless of the language they belong to or the type of ink or paper used. And my relationship with such people can never be as strong or close as the relationships I have with people whose eyes light up when they see a book or those who are able to put words together to say things that are so beautiful. It is an unfair thing to do, a form of discrimination, however, a love or liking of words is something I can relate to and talking to people who live with words makes me feel at ease.
Words allow me to empty my heart and mind. Words are my way of telling people about my life. Words allow me to relax and feel free. When things are good, I write about it. When things are going downhill, I turn to words.Words offer comfort. Words give you the space to understand life. Words unlock the cage you are in and let you fly away.

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