Some dreams like becoming an ‘air hostess’ or ‘astronaut’ are considered foolish or unlikely and given up. Others are abandoned because we realize that we may not have what it takes to achieve them. For me one such dream was to become a writer. Not just any writer. An author of great fiction.
At age 10, I was a prolific letter writer, or correspondent shall I say. I regularly wrote to my grandparents, especially Daddy, my maternal grandfather. When my best friend moved from Abu Dhabi to Pakistani, I used to write her long detailed letters almost twice a week.
Around the same time, inspired by the newspaper the sisters in Little Women write together, I started a little book with my three sisters called *ahem* TAWZ (the first letter of each of our names) to write original ‘articles’, poems, stories and also copied stuff that we liked, including gems such as ‘limericks’. We also shared comics or drawings. I was a bit of a dictator in getting my sisters to write in it and even at that age (my sisters all younger than me), we knew it was a bit lame. Predictably, it didn’t last long.
Well into my teens I wrote poetry. Most of it of the rhyming variety. Not all if it was bad. But it definitely wasn’t good. I stopped when I realized that.
At around 14, I attempted to write a book, but gave up when it started to become a Pakistani version of Sweet Valley High. I was dismayed and put writing fiction out of my mind forever. I told myself that if I could write at all, it would be non-fiction.
What has brought on this nostalgia?
Two things. A friend posted on Facebook about a Creative Writing Workshop that will take place in LUMS in August. The workshop is aimed at 18-26 year olds. I wish there were such workshops targeting younger writers because by that age, most of the kids who used to write, like me, may have already given up. I know as a kid, I would have given anything to attend such a workshop. Who knows, I may have continued to write poems and fiction.
The second thing that made me acknowledge this dream was a cute little book I recently read called Live What You Love and from which I shared an excerpt recently. The book is about a successful entrepreneurial American couple who started many different businesses together, their latest a gourmet restaurant in the Caribbean. While they had their ups and downs, they just continued to take an unusual path in life by working together and doing what they loved.
In the book, they ask the reader to acknowledge their dreams. And when I first read that, I was almost annoyed at them because I couldn’t think of any ‘dreams’. I asked in a huff, what dreams? I could think of goals, ambitions and plans, but not ‘dreams’.
So the last few days, I’ve been deliberately asking myself that question: what do I dream of? Or rather, what did I used to dream of? In answering it, I’ve started unearthing stuff like wanting to be a writer, travelling the world, being an astrophysicist and so on. For some past dreams, I may have missed the boat and they don’t hold that lustre any more. But others, like wanting to be a writer, still make me ache with longing. It is something I did not even share with others for fear they would ridicule me or worse that I may jinx it by admitting it.
I realize that I should not just rely on past dreams. I should come up with new ones. By writing this, I am dusting off the cobwebs and I dare to dream again.