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The way to writing

By December 26, 2017No Comments

Source : Deccan Chronicle

Sheeba Balan, who recently released two poetry books, talks about the troubles that her love for language has brought.

Sheeba 1

Her thoughts appear to run away from her sentences. Half-said thoughts, one fading as another drops by. This is Sheeba Balan talking, not a lot different from Sheeba Balan writing. No planned answers, no careful words. “Whenever I wrote, I wrote,” she says, making poetry sound so close and not a distant idea. The writing has been happening for a long time but it is now that two of her poetry books got released in her hometown, Kozhikode — The Butterfly and the Sea Surfer, and Memories Come with a Smell.

Sheeba 2

“I have been writing for long but I never showed it to anybody,” says Sheeba, on a phone call from Bengaluru. She shuttles between Bengaluru, Dubai and Kozhikode, spending time, with her husband and children, and writing poems. It is after Facebook ‘happened’ that she got connected to a lot of old friends, made new ones, and started showing her poems to them. “They’d ask me why I was not publishing them or putting them up on the wall. I was too much of an introvert. But then I got to meet Bina Biswas of Rubric Publishing and she just pushed me. She asked me to send her my poems and said she would take it,” Sheeba laughs.

Sheeba 3

She laughs a lot, in between small pieces from the past she picks out for you. Like the one she’s put behind her book, of her mother, when they lived in Chennai. Sheeba loved literature but her mother pulled her out to study Zoology for three years, in the hopes of her getting into medical school. That never happened, Sheeba toiled and went on to do her Masters in Literature, having to pay her own fees. There was a scholarship and she took tuition classes to make money.

“I never bought textbooks, but made Xerox copies of them. At first, teachers had a problem but they saw I was doing well,” Sheeba says. But when it came to M.Phil, she didn’t have her way. Sheeba had to give in, and she got married. “For 15-20 years I didn’t know what to do with my life. But I was writing. Throughout motherhood, I was reading,” she says.

Friends on Facebook called her to Fort Kochi and Thrissur. She slowly started a business with their support and her husband’s help. All along, she wrote. As a child, she didn’t think of becoming a writer, she just wanted to read. When she got a library ticket from school, she began bringing many books home every day. When the schoolbooks came, she’d read all the excerpts and then go to the library to read the whole books. Her teachers would ask her to remain silent; when in class, she’d say what happens next and why.

In class VIII, she joined a local library and read more. But after a lot of reading, Sheeba found there were new stories forming inside her head. She didn’t want to read fiction anymore. It is mostly non-fiction now. Some day, she wants to write a novel, and make a film too. More than anything else, she is a storyteller. The ‘I’ in her poems is mostly about her. There is one called ‘A story for October’ that she particularly loves. It is about her grandfather with whom she used to spit and measure who spat more. When she cursed the rain because she couldn’t play, he’d tell her it should rain ‘For my Coconuts and Pepper’. She writes:
Farmer he was
And I hug him
I hug his brown skin and neck
This is all about that.

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