Keeri who loved humans

Keeri who loved humans
Something to say?

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Colours of Words

I suppose we all do many kinds of writing. I'm thinking of honesty in connection with my writing. And where the writing comes from.

     I try to create fiction, but the fiction has its origins in reality. I cannot write about places or sense-images that I have never experienced. I'm sure I could pretend, for instance, that I am there in China, when I write about it. Fact is any number of books and videos will give me the details I need for the project. But no - I am not good enough for that. I would struggle and slip and lose confidence.

   Making fiction is a creative process - by definition.  Let's say, I have two people in my story discussing something mundane, such as the washing up, and I think, 'Is that what she would have said? at that moment, considering her character, her lineage? Decisions to make: would she have said 'I can't do that' politely, or maybe, just an obstinate, can't? What did that place smell of? If they are in the kitchen, did it smell of shallots or stale egg? What was the texture of the kitchen surface? I can play God and make up all these things.  That's the fun part.The words in this situation would have been neutral beige, like a great many British drawing rooms.

      Then there are flaming red words: anger exploding all over the room.  Rage has to be  - orange - red- incandescent white at the end. Purple, I think is about passion and gray about depression and that dull, barely-alive feeling. The words I like best are the green ones, about the outside, the calm, I-like-this-world words. In Kochi there are many of those. Life is slow, relaxed, like the small boats out on the back waters.

     However, in fiction there is no honesty. There is no transparency. Whereas the blog is all out there. No room for prevarication here, especially if I am writing for my Asha Molu.

     Whether blog or story the origins are the same. Thalassery the main provenance, the truest one. There, the colours are those of sunshine, of light splintering on the veranda-edge, of puddles catching the rays to show small rainbows. 

    There must be a lot of mud in it somewhere as well: we went to school and college bare- footed, we didn't own slippers or shoes. What was the point of them in that constant wet? And then again, the houses did not have lawns, they had compounds, which were dug up every year to make the coconut trees and other produce grow well.

    There were strict rules about where we left that mud from outdoors. After school we were not allowed indoors without washing our hands and feet in water from the brass kindi spout. The kindi full of water was a permanent reminder at the edge of the veranda. 

     Years later, in remote Kamakui, in the north of Sierra Leone, I was at a workshop. Our lunch of fish and rice had been consumed, but there was little water to wash our hands. The man in charge dispensed it in a dribble from a pot, carefully. Watching me wash my hands he said, 'You have done this before, haven't you?'

     Should I add mud to the colours of my words? Chocolate brown with flashes of palm green.

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