I don’t think I could speak if required to save my life! I am a loser when it comes to speaking. I mumble, stutter and can make a complete fool of myself! Yes I used to be called a grandma back in college, so yes philosophical, practical talking came very easily, but not anything I had not experienced myself.
I remember a time many years ago, I was helping a couple of my friends with a school activity and I could not help myself to walk into the classrooms to give some simple instruction feeling completely tongue-tied and helpless as I was quite aware of how excellent the others in the team were. I think it was also coupled by the fact that I was not a good writer either! So is speaking connected to writing and therefore if one can write well, one could speak better too?
I was recently asked to mentor students on the need to write and all my experiences with writing first and then speaking came back to me. My tryst with writing first began when I was in school and had to prepare a speech on drug addiction! It was for an elocution competition in my housing colony and I hoped to try out my luck with being a good orator. In those days with an absence of television and no easy access to library facilities the only resource we could tap was the daily newspapers and I remember digging through an old pile to have finally found some information on the subject matter. I also remember writing in a simple structured manner with an introduction, issues-those specific to Goa, possible solutions and the way forward. I remembered all the points and although it was my first time, I did rather well and won the first place in the competition.
I remember next trying my hand at writing when I was in the Architecture College and we were in the 4th Year of Architecture and I wrote this article on how architecture should represent the time it lives in. I remember being struck by this bolt from the blue and the writing bug had me engaged for many days. It was not easy then because my thoughts were all in a muddle and I was terrified that with my articulation skills at its worst, my ideas would be lost in translation! Finally after struggling for many days, I read and re-read the finished product, polished it a little further and was pleased how it all sounded and had turned out. When the article was published in the college magazine ‘Vistara’, the response it garnered from friends was very positive and everybody encouraged me to write more. I could only pursue writing after I had graduated from Goa College of Architecture and was undergoing a phase where I was beginning to question many things, wanting to share personal experiences, and began writing about them in local papers as letters to the editor.
So my tryst with writing was quite an arduous one initially as it took me days to get my thoughts penned down in its final form and it was appreciated by all my friends who coerced me to write more. I loved what I wrote then and felt happy that I could somehow articulate my thoughts although the process was long. It was only later as I began writing more that I began to articulate my thinking, could structure it carefully and my writing greatly improved. Although I always got good reviews and feedback I would consciously work to structure my writing and the outcome was satisfactory. The next phase in writing was when I began contributing to a regular column titled 'Green Goa' in Goa's only business magazine run by a very close friend Harshwardhan Bhatkuly, where the focus was on green products and green start-ups and where I consciously had to keep my emotional feelings about environmental issues out of focus! But as I began writing on specific products that addressed a relative environmental problem, every write up ended in the realisation of a campaign or awareness drive and vice-a-versa.
This led me to writing about architecture, environment, wildlife, nature and social issues too in both local as well as other publications. And all of it either spun off from an experience or led to an amazing action step. I began to write far more easily, almost effortlessly. And I couldn’t stop once I began. I no longer had to consciously work on a structure, it came naturally. It came from the heart. And what is most amazing is the fact that I felt comfortable to speak about these subjects too. The writing had also helped me speak in a more articulate manner! I could talk at forums and events with ease simply because all I had to do was draw from my experiences and share my learnings.
I remember an incident back in college when a college mate who was really short tempered, screamed down my neck with expletives because a couple of us were playing basketball on the ground during the break of a college tournament. I was so shocked at the outburst that I simply walked off in silence. This surprised many as I was known to be very outspoken. And there were many situations since then, having worked with community, students, etc, where I found silence or walking away from the situation as a rightful action in lieu of a reaction of vindication and further violence. It literally gives you the opportunity to step back, pan out and regain your composure before you can say something. Something that is not hurtful, punishing, and revengeful. And better than saying anything I have found that writing instead is beautiful. It gives you time, it gives you space, it gives you positive energy. It gives a clear perspective of your inner soul and beautiful mind.
I shared this tool with many of my friends and family members and most who have tried it have responded back with a great and powerful energy that have made them better persons! Perhaps those at war with each other should try it, politicians and nations, imagine the lives we could save! Imagine the children we could save.
So, feed your desire to speak by writing. Speak your mind. Speak the truth. From the strength of your experience. From wisdom. Remember, a pen or the written word is mightier than the sword! But unlike a sword that draws blood, pen about love, kindness, forgiveness, hope and peace!
(Tallulah D’Silva is a practising architect in Goa and has recently taught at the Goa College of Architecture as adjunct professor)