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WHY I WRITE: WRITING IS EVERYTHING by Ruth Dahiru

I can’t imagine it. Not for lack of trying because I have, tried that is. A countless number of times, if I’m to be honest, but the end is the same; each time I’m reminded by my own consciousness that I myself do not even believe in what I try to do.

And, each time, this reminder haunts me: “how can I want something so much, and in all my dreams – both at night and the ones that come in the still moments of the day, I have no idea what to do with what I tell myself I so desperately desire once I get it?

I don’t know what this is yet as I haven’t sat down to think or dwell on it. However, I’ve decided that it will be what it will be and I will not worry my head with titles and styles and arrangements as such.

I’ve always wanted to write. At first, mainly because for a while during my childhood, it seemed that was what everyone was doing, writing about soap operas that we used to watch as kids in my house. Actually, I don’t think I knew of any child at my school who didn’t watch the soaps too, which, now that I think about it, we shouldn’t have been allowed to watch because we were a little too young, but I digress.

Where was I?

Ah yes, the writing, another reason I deemed writing a good pastime for myself was the books I had begun to read then. As of now I have no recollection of the first book that drew me to words, I just remember that there were those moments of freedom for me in the class where I would lay my head on the table and proceed to read all the literature books assigned to us for the session, or was it term? I forget.

I remember how the noise would be tuned out like I had a volume dial and It would just be me and my book. I also remember how during one of these quiet periods a male classmate had put his hand on my thigh although I cannot remember what his reason was for putting it there. I remember letting it remain there for a time. I also quite clearly remember the next day when he asked me if I wanted to continue what had started the day before and me saying I didn’t care to recall what he was talking about nor did I care to resume it (not put quite so eloquently of course). I saw this classmate again years later and I pretended not to know who he was.

I think it was this period that my father bought me a book or two. He still fancies himself as the one who first saw my love for books and encouraged it as much as he could. He is not and did none of those things, save buy me a book or two – this is another stage of my wish to write.

Moving up from this, I recall getting older and going through the thunderstorm called puberty. I hardly think there is a girl in the world with access to writing materials of any kind who did not consider herself some kind of poet or virtuoso during that oh-so-cursed-time, filled with the most disastrous things and most wonderful sensations, each not precluding the other. Nevertheless, I add this period as part of my drive to write.

I have been told that I was always a moody child – not given to smiles or laughter as easily as other children. This carried on into my teenage years. I hated with a fierceness, was misunderstood with alarming effectiveness by my parents, pushed away so many friends in short periods of time and all the demonic and unnecessary actions you would expect from someone going through the worst of times were without fail shown by me.

I still think about it now and realize that I was insane and that it couldn’t have been puberty that amounted to all that, because if everyone was as crazy and as insane as I was, the world would surely have been turned upside-down. Needless to say, I felt alone and tortured and unaccepted by everyone around me and, once again, writing became my only solace.

This is getting harder to write as I go on but I know I must.

As I grew and matured – barely, it seemed everyone, except me, was coming into their own, finding things they excelled at and doing the needful to get on with their lives, and, though I wanted to write constantly, it became a kind of reminder to me, like the way a sad love song brings you to tears when you’re going through a break up.

Someone told me once that he didn’t believe anyone had a passion for something or was born with a passion for something. He said passion is gotten from other people along the way. We weren’t even talking about writing at that point, but I was trying to make him realize he was wrong and then I seemed like the perfect example.

I who still doesn’t get it, yet unsure why I feel this strongly about this one thing even when I block out emotions for all else. I told him that writing wasn’t something I just did. It was how I lived, it was therapy, and it was everything.

This is the longest thing I’ve written in a while and frankly, it was hard.

I don’t know what I’m going to do in the future but whatever it is I believe writing is going to be involved.

Author: Ruth Dahiru

I’m a fifth-year law student and writer based in Abuja and I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember.

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