Text by Shruti Chatterjee
The most common question, we as children faced when a guest came home was to answer whether we had a hobby? I am sure it has happened to you too. This question came after we had obediently answered what our name was and which class, we studied in. If we answered yes to having a hobby, we were asked the specifics, and if we said no, we were gently advised to find one depending on our interests!
As a child, you wondered why you needed to invest your precious playtime to anything at all. The stern eyes of an elder or a parent made you scurry off and hunt for something sensible you could decently call as a hobby and get them off your back. Thankfully, I survived this drill smoothly in comparison to my siblings. As, quite early in childhood, I had found books very fascinating and by the time I was close to ten I could handle my library books independently. In fact, my parents had a huge role in initiating the curiosity towards books which eventually graduated into reading as a hobby and writing as a hidden one. Why hidden? Have you ever heard of a teenage author, in the ’80s? As a parent, you would be ridiculed then and there, “Huh, you have a Shakespeare in the making?” My little notebook had scribblings, verses on my crush, anecdotes from the school and it was a secret diary that did not exist for anyone but me.
As life progressed and I reached adulthood, books became my solace in solitude and writing, my friend in times of sadness, turmoil, and joy too. Being an introvert, I had a handful of friends, these hobbies ensured I didn’t have too much time for tomfoolery in young adulthood when the freedom at hand is itching to be exploited in different ways. It would totally depend on your sensibility, well whatever achieved till then. I would win an unexpected prize here and there and that kept my passion for writing alive. At college level to manage a prize for essay writing wasn’t so cool, as there where more fascinating things like walking the ramp, composing fusion music, and whatnot, yet that did not deter me. Ethiraj College for women, in Chennai, was considered one of the best in the city and gave me one of the best exposures, I could have asked for in 1991 to be precise. Specializing in Botany hardly gave me time to spare beyond my record books, herbarium sheets, dissection classes to dedicate my time to an in-depth study of English and build the skills needed for it, but that didn’t stop me from whenever I could. My friends did applaud my little victories and that mattered more to me than the prize itself.
We adapt to what life brings you, most of the time it’s your destiny with, of course, a little space for tweaking your dreams and desires into it. If that gets assimilated, then I guess we have a happily ever after story. After finishing my graduation, the question of further education came up and I stood at crossroads. I had enjoyed my undergraduate studies with my choice of subject but whether I wanted to pursue it further was the question. I took the decision of changing the stream and moved to social sciences which seemed challenging as a new field. My letter of acceptance from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences opened new doors of learning and I was elated. Moving to Mumbai from Chennai was a culture shift and a new experience of living away from home. It brought in more independence, maturity and awareness as an individual. The end of the first year also saw me getting married and moving into another new phase of life. The role of a student and that of a wife evolved together. With added responsibilities the phase was a bit challenging sometimes, writing took a complete backseat till my studies finished. Being a spouse to a naval officer initiated me into the service life and new beginnings therein.
Being a part of the community, for almost two decades now, where moving every few years is the norm and feeling nomadic is normal. Life brought in nice and supportive people into my life’s journey who enabled my growth as a person. Experiences waited to knock at my door every time I was in a new place and my basket filled with amazing thoughts and life experiences that I could share with people. I wrote about my experiences in the naval community newsletters and the annual Varuni magazine and it gave me happiness that I could create a connection with the readers. In my heart, I treasured a dream of becoming an author, but it seemed like a distant dream. Keeping my professional requirements as a counselor, movements at fixed periods, responsibilities towards the children as they were growing up seemed to make the writing a book a distant reality sometimes. Nevertheless, I continued my love affair with words, meeting them whenever the desire got the better of me while I lived and loved my role as a daughter, wife, mother, daughter-in-law and so many others.
Writing regularly for the Times of India with concerns and social issues addressed to the editor and writing for Varuni as a naval wife gave me a varied experience. Then like a magical chapter, SHEROES came into in my life, as I relocated to a new city again, my batchmate from college initiated me to it. The new culture of Kolkata, the incredible experience of joy and happiness during Durga puja, the old-world charm of the city, inspired me to write again. It was through one of the challenges on the platform that I took the plunge to publish my e-book. Amazon’s self-publishing platform seemed an ideal platform to begin the journey to gain a perspective about publishing. I burnt midnight oil again as a student thinking of the right word, the appropriate plot and enjoyed every bit of the journey of the first e-book which was a collection of short stories. It was followed by a collection of poems. Writing has become an essential part of me. On a short break from professional work, I have invested time in getting into a reading and regular writing routine. It is my go-to mantra for happiness and joy. I hope to pursue more learning, eventually, in the field to develop my skills. I would sign off by saying that it’s never too late, to indulge in a hobby; pick up a notepad and start scribbling- it can give you unlimited joy, which you are yet to experience. have never experienced it before!
About the contributor:
Shruti Chatterjee is a family and child counselor by profession currently based in Kolkata. An avid reader, a passionate writer, and an author with two published e-books. A mother to two daughters, 19 and 9 who have been her cheerleaders in her writing journey. She loves to travel to different destinations in search of solace and peace.
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