During my childhood I spent a lot of time exploring my creative side- whether it was discovering new people or what lies across the world through books, or dancing, participating in sports, playing dress up following instructions from the Childcraft books, which was my Google at that time (I made a pretty good ghost and pirate with an eye-patch and all) and trying DIY crafts with my sister- We once made Spongebob and a girlfriend for him. Muma disliked the fact that we used dishwashing sponge for this. We, on the other hand carried them around even to school until they disappeared under mysterious circumstances one day. I had also created an imaginary country inhabited mostly by cats and the national colour was purple… but let’s not get into that, okay? It might need a whole different post.
I believed that even something like a doll or a chair has a story of its own. I wanted to hear that story and bring life into everything around me. I had once watched a Disney cartoon where broken dolls that nobody wanted were thrown away and they got together, mended each other and became whole again. This cartoon moved me and I said to myself that I would never abandon my art, dolls or books. I designed a doll house where no doll was left out, even the broken ones. I spent elaborate amounts of time making tiny foods, tiny gadgets, and with grandma’s help- clothes and upholstery. This became such a hit that friends from school would come home just to see the tiny world I created, sometimes asking me to make something for them too.
This was all fun and games but as I grew up, I began to understand what a vital role imagination and a creative spirit plays in life. Without it, I don’t know who I would have been. Time slipped by and as we all do, I expanded my horizons but still carried inside me the world I had created, letting it mold other aspects of life. Then came the most daunting life changing event- my spinal cord injury that happened 10 years ago. Although a lot of positivity came out of it, that took time. In the beginning I did not know how to process the situation. I did not understand what a huge turn life was about to take.
While I was trying to find myself again there were a lot of naysayers around me in the form of friends, relatives and random strangers. This was harder than the physical healing I had to go through. Putting it bluntly, to the world a disability means the end of you. You can’t really blame people for thinking that way. We have grown up with a set of fixed beliefs and rarely dare to question them or move beyond them. But I didn’t know this then. Low whispers, indirect and even direct remarks on how my life is ruined now that I can’t walk, how I would never be able to do anything worthy, or what a herculean task it was going to be from now on slowly began to get to me.
It never happened immediately of course, but soon I began to believe the said and unsaid words and accept them as my new identity. Was this who I was now? If many say so, perhaps I was. These thoughts made me wonder what the point of trying even was anymore. Why finish my studies, why be creative, why have dreams, why exist? I didn’t deserve it all. And then I did what I thought I never would- abandoned my creativity. One by one, I got rid of my art, my writing, the dolls that had become a collection in memory of my childhood fantastical worlds, and everything else that made me who I loved to be. I went spiraling into an abyss and it was cold. For a very long time, it was cold.
I kept it all inside, and couldn’t find a way out until one day for some reason I picked up a paintbrush and just let it do the talking. Maybe I would feel something again? The end result was the state of my mind at that time, and no matter how it turned out, it made me feel alive.
It reminded me of the feeling I had locked away, thrown the key into a stormy ocean and forgotten. But you can’t really lock away something that’s innately you for too long. It finds its way back to you. That bit of life was like a golden rope thrown into that pit calling out to me to hold on to it and get up. An uphill climb, it wasn’t easy but it was adventurous and there was no turning back. I went on to finish my graduation that I had put on hold, try new things, and just live the way I want to, doing everything I was told would never be possible. I welcomed colour back into my life, adorned my room with the art I had left behind, brought in dolls, gave them quirky personalities and stories, books and everything that inspires me. Isn’t it said that you become what you believe? It finally made sense to me. I made a choice to stop digging because,
So, I could either keep digging (do that if you are ‘Dig Dug’), or climb out to see the sky. Naysayers will always be there, no matter what you do. You can either believe them or yourself. Looking back I am glad I chose to hold on when my mind was screaming at me to give up. Today, I want to live for the little and big moments that come every single day, be my truest self and see the full circle of rainbow.