My first feature about the carefree attitude of today’s youth was published in the ‘Collegian’ section of The Hindu-Vizag, while I was pursuing master’s degree in journalism and mass communication (MJMC) from Andhra University.
I still remember, I took several hours to pen down my thoughts, not convinced with what I wrote (or typed), deleting and undoing every sentence, cursing my writing skills, and worse, fearing if I did the right thing by opting journalism. “So, this is what they call 'writer's block',” I wondered, feeling a little uncomfortable and irksome in the presence of the unwelcomed guest. "Oh please, you are not yet a writer. Will you just focus?" my innermost being yelled at me, as it desperately wanted to make an impression upon my dad with my maiden attempt. I had no choice and went ahead with the onerous task, while simultaneously striking up a new friendship with ‘writer’s block’.
A few hours later, I discovered myself and got a shot in the arm when my dad okayed the piece. I was on cloud nine when I saw my first byline in the reputable Indian daily newspaper. Thus, I got my first break in media on November 1, 2004. Later, I contributed quite a few articles to The Hindu and in the course of time, ‘writer’s block’ left me for another writer.
Then came the task of writing about a Goan family who made Vizag their second home, while I was searching for jobs after completing MJMC. Thanks to my dad, who was then working with UNI-Goa as bureau chief, my work got published in the Herald, Panaji. Everything went well and I was about to pen down the info, when the old friend revisited me. Her (writer’s block, of course) presence was, as always, not pleasant and enjoyable.
I killed many hours wondering if I would accomplish the job entrusted to me by my dad (it was he who suggested that I hone my skills before taking up a regular job). Journalism had been my passion since childhood. In fact, I grew up idolizing my dad. Well, there was no going back and I finished the feature only to realize that I actually wrote an essay!
I sought the opinion of one of my seniors in AU. She just said: "Of course, it is an essay and that's what we journalists write. Welcome to the family," understanding my inhibitions. Then, I approached my dad's friend (Pavan uncle), who was then working with Deccan Chronicle here and helped me in accomplishing the job, with a printout of the article. Pat came the reply from him, "Well done. You did it!" The write-up got published in June 2005 and I was confident of realising my biggest dream – becoming a reporter.
Soon, I landed a job in The New Indian Express as a subeditor. The nearly 3-year stint in TNIE brought out the best in me, for I wrote features while continuing my desk job. Later, I shifted to Hyderabad and have learnt the ins and outs of media and also saw the crests and troughs of life.
I grew up like any other girl from a middle class background, in a protective environment and not knowing much as to what awaits us in the real world. But, my parents allowed me to fulfill my dreams and accepted the 'tomboy' in me. My mom came to terms with me after making a few vain attempts to mend me and often expressing her concern for my prospective hubby and in-laws. They even welcomed the love of my life, Dileep into our family with warmth, though they raised objections initially like any other parents.
All the while, my writing continued and the best buddy popped in every now and then until two years ago, when my whole world turned upside down with the sudden demise of my dad. I didn't write anything since then. Every time I wanted to, something always held me back and eventually, 'writer's block' bid the ‘dispirited’ me an adieu. One fine day, it dawned upon me suddenly that my dad truly made a huge difference in my life.
I've been a 'daddy kutti' since childhood, for I used to cry out for him and not mom, like any other kid, when I fell down or was unwell or had a nightmare. I used to wake up in the midnight and also wake my mom up when he arrived home after work hours by his Rajdoot bike. I never missed an opportunity to serve him and eat from his plate. I still mash up idly and soak it in sambar, the way dad loves to eat. All these and more, ever since I was a few months old! Every time my mom narrates these snippets from the past, my love for dad only multiplied.
True! He has always been my strength, weakness and biggest support system. I never imagined a life without him and was under the impression that nothing can separate us. After all, I was being human! And the truth that he isn't here to guide me, chide me or feel proud of me has been holding me back all the while.
Finally, on a sleepless night, I successfully gave vent to my feelings, though after hours of struggle and my long-forgotten friend did pay a visit that moment, with the promise that it would accompany me some more time. But this time, her presence felt very comforting, quite unlike earlier times.
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