Why do I write? That is a tricky question. Different people write for different reasons—to vent their anger, to remove their loneliness, to give themselves a voice to be heard, etc. The reason I write is that I believe the written word has the power to influence people, the power to create change. People tend to believe much more in the written word than they do in speech. I believe words themselves are magical, they are from fantasy land. Using words is like casting a spell or dabbling in witchcraft which can bring any kind of world alive right before your eyes. But most importantly, they are a joy to behold, and the satisfaction that I get from writing something down, by creating something—a child of my own, nurtured and shaped by me—is something else. I believe the written word has the power to create change. I am more of a fiction writer, and therefore, I used to make up crazy stories in my head from the age of five. I didn’t even know how to read, so I used to bring books from school and then force my mother to read them out to me. I think it was always in my genes to write. My family was always a big supporter of education and always believed that one never stopped learning. My grandmother was an avid reader and so was my mother. My grandfather had actually said with his last breath that he wanted me to be well-educated. My father would have turned out to be a writer himself if life had allowed him. He used to devour so many books at a time, much like I do now, but he also had a habit of noting down any lines of prose or poetry that he thought were well-written. He had a trunk full of such notebooks, and still goes back to them whenever he gets the time. So it was quite inevitable that I would turn out to be a writer too. I still remember the first time my work was ever published. I was really small then, in class 3 or 4. We were asked to write a few lines on how we had spent our Durga Puja, a festival in West Bengal, vacations. I had written a small piece on it – like about five to six lines about the places we went to and other things. But my teacher was so impressed that she gave it to the Principal, who published it in the annual school magazine. The pride and joy that I saw in my parents’ eyes were enough to make me believe that my path was set. And since then, I have been writing and making up as many stories as possible. I was the go-to person whenever there were any speeches to be written or a paper to be presented, and my teachers would read out my stories in front of the class as an example of a good imagination. I was even chosen to be the school reporter in my last year of school for the Times of India. And on and on it went, until I actually started earning from my work. Now, let me come back to the question of why I write. I am not one of those crusaders who write to inspire people to revolt, to bring about social change, to voice my opinion on the debilitating condition of our government, to comment on tragic world affairs. No, I am not one of those youths who are just so angry with the way things are that they need to talk about it to someone or they will burst. Now it’s not that I don’t feel for any issue at all or that I don’t care about anything that goes on in the world and live in a bubble. No, I am as much affected by any socio-political issue as the next person is, but I have a slightly more passive approach to it. You see, I don’t believe that just expressing your anger on social media is going to help. I think that if people really do want some kind of change, then you have to go out there and make it happen. Take responsibility, go on the roads and bring down the people responsible. Because let’s face it, sitting behind a computer or a television set and just commenting about how the country is going to the dogs is not going to help. If you think something is wrong and has to be changed, then you have to dirty your hands and feel the pain yourself. It has become more of a trend to just sit back and rant on social media websites. People just wait for something to happen and they can start blaming any organisation, caste, community, creed, or individual. Take the Kathua rape case in India, for example. When news came out about an eight-year-old having to suffer such brutalisation for the sake of creating a religious divide, everyone immediately took to social media about how our society is flawed and we are such hypocrites and the government is unable to take action, and so on. But would these people help another girl who they meet on the road being eve-teased or bullied? They are more likely to say that it is none of their business. And I am not just making this up, I am saying this out of the experience. I had witnessed two girls being harassed by a sleazy gentleman in a public place in broad daylight and no one lifted a finger to help them until I myself called the police. So what is the use of ranting so much about change on social media until we actually do something about it? Now I am not saying that people should stop sharing stuff about such issues completely. But people should also confirm whether the news they are sharing is actually true or not. What I’ve realised is that many people want to keep up this persona of being socially aware but they don’t really care whether any news is truthful or not. Or maybe it’s just that our society has become so used to being oppressed, molested, screwed in the name of economy, caste, religion, etc. that we have developed this thick skin that until something happens to us personally, we do not care. We have developed these two personalities – an online and an offline one – a crusader of social justice, and a lover of comfort. Now since I am more of a fiction writer, I have my own way of dealing with such situations. Instead of just taking up the support of social media anonymity, I couch all my anger, despair, hopes, and need for justice, into a nice little story of history or mythology or elves and goblins, cover it with a sprinkling of sarcasm and dark humour, and wrap it up in a sweet pill that is easy for people to swallow. So, why do I write? Because I believe that words are magic, and all good stories have the power to defeat evil and restore peace and justice to the world.