The Other / Arathi Devandran

To be able to write well, my beloved always tells me, stems from one’s ability to live life well.

This, for a writer, can be a tricky thing, for a lot of writing happens just outside the realm of living. The act of putting pen to paper is relatively simple. When there are words, the pen moves easily. But to gain that inspiration for this movement, to be able to sit in front of a blank sheet and produce art, any art, requires the making of peace with this strange peripheral space that a writer finds herself in.

In this strange peripheral place between being present, and being on the edge of this very present.

To be looking into the present with all the curiosity of a child, and with the dispassionate gaze of a historian. To be able to always file memories, and feelings into secret places which you delve into on balmy nights listening to music by a secluded pool. To be able to sift through these memories with the precision of a scientist and the intensity of an archaeologist.

To be able to relive and be okay with the lack of relieving.

To be able to write well. is to make peace with the eternal otherness of being, I say.

***

To be a woman in this world, however, is a different story altogether.

To be a woman is to be able to make the choice to live unapologetically every single day, from the moment you put on your clothes, to the moment you take a seat at the table. If there is no seat at the table, then, to be a woman is to make a seat for yourself at the table despite the cacophony of male voices that tell you that you do not deserve to be there.

To be a woman is to be able make the choice to not play roles that society thinks is best for you; that your family thinks is best for you; that all the well-meaning men and yes, even other women, think is best for you. It is to pick a role – daughter, wife, bosslady, mother, grandmother, ruler of the world – or all of the roles at once, and do your darndest best with whatever choice you make.

To be a woman is to conquer your insecurities from the time you are in your mother’s womb, and to turn up and conquer those insecurities every single day. To be a woman is to know that nothing is ever given to you just because, and to learn to climb the mountains of everyday, reach the summit, and start all over again the next day. To be a woman is to be damned if you do and to be damned if you don’t. To be a woman is a glorious, magnificent, terrible thing, yes, even now.

To be a woman in this world, is not just about making peace with the otherness of being. It is to grab this bullish otherness by its horns and to stare at it in the eye and say, I am claiming you for myself because this is my birth right. I have arrived, and I am here to stay.

***

To be the other, dear reader, is both a blessing and a bane. To be the other is to never belong, and to belong everywhere at once. To be the other is to make light of rootlessness, and to sink your roots into this universe’s very existence.

To be the other, is not a bad thing at all.

 

Arathi Devandran curates personal experiences, snapshots of the world and the stories people are willing to share with her through prose and poetry www.miffalicious.com

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