It all started with this little book I received from my mother. I must not have been more than 5 years old then. The book was nothing special, its contents were but samples of elementary-school students’ compositions with pictorial illustrations. Something many Chinese parents would buy for their little children who were just starting to learn how to read and write. Yet it was the first piece of literature I ever encountered; and it ensnared me. I remember going over those short essays and stories again and again, seeing what the authors saw, feeling what the authors felt. My imagination was kindled. Eventually I began to write on my own, in a little notebook, imitating and learning from what I had read. What was beyond my vision at that time, was that I had nailed my soul to the altar of something far powerful than I will ever be; and that I had pledged myself with a vow that cannot be broken or annulled.
Once this love for words began, there was no return. I am bound to it and must abide till the end of my days, whether I will or nill. My earliest memory, the first bits and pieces of my conscious mind, my very identity – were all built upon this obsession with words and my ever-growing yearning for them. Some of you who share the same love would understand. Does anything feel more content than those blessed moments, when you are able to capture your fleeting thoughts and carve them out in precision? Is there anything more frustrating than failing to articulate what is in your own head? – the words were right there, and they sounded so perfectly eloquent. Yet somehow you could not get it right in paper and ink.
This is why I have always believed I could never be a writer. To have the pressure of always producing satisfactory work – it would be too much a burden for my mentality to bear. Words are a blade I use on myself. With them I flay my skin, cut my heart open, and dissect my brain. To write is to give birth. But we are given the power to shape exactly what our babies should look like, and where does that lead us? One instant these children looked lovely; but they turned detestable at the second look. So we mutilate them and kill them – children that we conceived ourselves with pleasure then birthed through pain. And it never stops.
Still, how can anyone regret offering themselves to something that is so beautiful? It was first through words I learned how to see beauty, how to absorb it and be absorbed to it, how to feel it in its essence with every element of my being. Had not words been my mentor, I would not be who I am today, always feeling, reflecting and contemplating so much and so deeply. Nor learn how much wisdom humanity can offer in the form of art; nor be enthralled, day after day, by this great mystery – the universe – within which we happen to exist. It is through words I have experienced endless wonders, travelled to parts of the world I have never been, lived lives I have never lived, talked to the dead and the never-born, tasted tears and joys and fears that were not mine. Is there anything more transcending, anything more intimate, than reading and being read? We humans are no telepaths; but words made it possible for us to reach out to each other’s mind, naked, in the dark within the skull.
Starting this blog was by no means easy for me. While I have never ceased to love writing with my passion, I also never ceased to doubt my ability to describe what I feel or do – even more so as English is not my native tongue. But I cannot help myself. And I know that I shall always be writing, even if I was just one lonely performer, delivering a monologue on an empty stage in an empty theatre, where no one is watching and no one is listening.
So, if you happen to stumble across this secret garden of mine, my welcome and gratitude. I hope you find some resonance in my introspections, and enjoy my adventures.
– Elysée K.