It was my late mother Louella Lobo Prabhu who unconsciously passed on to me the passion to be original. My youthful years were about knowledge and erudition. She discounted them for the greater challenges and achievement of being true to one’s own thought processes and creative faculties, of being original rather than repetitive, whatever the value or validity of someone else’s work.
To repose faith in one’s capacity to be original can be daunting because one is humbled by the profundity of what has gone before. What gives one courage and confidence is that as long as we live life, in all its variety of events, people, objects, natural phenomena we are capable of highly individual responses .
The point is to develop the self-confidence and courage to articulate, and even go against the grain of collective thinking from personal conviction. The individual ‘ gut’ feeling is often the starting point of original thought, that reposes trust in the power of one’s own understanding.
”Know thyself” said a philosopher, Socrates I think. “Trust yourself” says me, reposing faith in inner antenna for trying to make individual sense of life. My confidence on this flows from my experience as a writer and public speaker. It’s amazing how the most unlikely subjects provoke a stimulating examination of personal experience for arriving at a general relevance. This approach has never failed so far in providing me with original thoughts that readers or listeners relate to, even if they are sometimes contrary to general or even specialist opinion. It may not necessarily be the right opinion for all times and places or people but perfectly true from personal experience at a point of time.
To illustrate, I recall a recent event where I was the valedictory speaker of a National Literary Seminar where the inaugurator, renowned and veteran novelist Shashi Deshpande, asserted that despite the changing times, the lot of the Indian women hadn’t changed( or so it was reported in press coverage) . Though a recent debut author, I enjoyed the courage of my strong individual opinions. My own ardent message was that while problem areas exist, Indian women have much to celebrate in terms of achievement, that as writers we must look beyond themes of oppression to explore the intriguing and fascinating psyches of women and people in general. To buttress the latter point, I had an example in that very morning’s newspaper of a mother and daughter who had colluded to kill the spouse/ father in violent crime. Both Ms Deshpande and myself expressed valid personal convictions, from the standpoint of not absolute reality but relative positions. Indeed it is the relative position of place, time, social setting, combined with the inner make up of imagination and passion that contribute to the totality of experience that finds itself in individualized self-expression.
As a matter of principle, I never write or speak what I haven’t personally sensed to be right for me, because I believe convictions should be rooted in authenticity. When a meeting point between one’s inner and outer world happens, the resulting whisper of original thought can outshout the loud cliche.