Toastmasters Project #4: Why I Write by TM Shashank Poudel

We come to Toastmasters to be better orators, better leaders, and better initiators.

Speaking skills and public speaking skills are such an integral part of effective interpersonal communication, aren’t they? In fact, trying to effectively communicate without those skills is like trying to jump without bending your knees.

Oratory skills are a pivotal part of a precarious puzzle. That implies that there is something else. Sometimes, you need to communicate with yourself. Sometimes, you need to sit on your springy couch, keep your feet up the table, grab a beer in your hand, and rule the world. That is when writing comes in, for me.

I write. But I rarely share my writings. Sometimes I write and tear up the pages; more accurately I type and press my finger against backspace. I write for very selfish and personal reasons.

I write because I do not understand. Consider this. You are at New Baneshwor, you see a bus going to Bhaktapur, and people are squeezed against each other in convoluting positions. They are packed tighter than the molecules of their bones, but still the conductor audaciously says, “Seat khali seat khali.”, which means there are empty seats.

And you see people dangling on the bus like awry wires on the poles of the streets. They are clinging on to dear life by gripping the handle beside the bus door. I understand neither the conductor nor the dangling passengers but I try to wear their hats and write about them; I may be totally wrong about them, but I think I understand them a little more.

I write because sometimes I feel too much emotion. A lot of pent-up, racked up, roaring rage rushes inside of me to be released. Sometimes, my emotions scream and whimper to be let out, like a little dog tied to a leash all day. A six year old gets raped and it hits me, it hits me harder than the atom bomb that obliterated Nagasaki.

I do not understand that – but that – I don’t want to understand. It just makes me angry and although my writing anything about it will not help the victim nor punish the perpetrator, it makes me feel that I have a conscience, that I am not desensitized to things.

I also write because sometimes I just do not feel. That I am distant, detached, and disconnected with everything around me. My room-mate recently conducted an intervention session for me. I reached our flat at around 7 in the evening. He comes in, his stomach preceding his face by a mile. He says with a grave face, “Shashank, we need to talk. I hope you will take what I am saying positively.” And then he just starts digressing. I know he wants to say something but just cannot come close to the point.

Hearing him talk was like watching a YouTube video using dial-up internet from seven years ago. Those circular dots can’t stop rotating. Finally, he says (sandwiching his point) that I seem off and do not talk much; and I need to devote time to domestic duties. Cook, clean, and communicate. When I reflect back and write about it, I realize that I have been just leaving and entering my flat for the past two weeks (without a care on what is going on there), I realize that he has had to do all the chores by himself.

Sometimes, writing brings back memories that I thought I had forgotten, like cleaning my cupboard after months and finding clothes that I forgot I owned. A friend of time asked me to write as a nine-year old (not about a nine-year old but as one), and that brought back floods of memories about which I had not thought about for a long time. How I used to cycle to school on the sun-flooded dusty streets of Biratnagar racing against friends, or playing football in large ocean of grass that never seemed to come to an end; how being pragmatic and being practical didn’t seem to matter; how all I could do was laugh, love, and live every moment that life could offer when I was not in school. Writing about a-day-in-life about a nine year old brought me closer to my childhood.

I write because to me writing is to weld a mirror for oneself; a non-biased, non-flattering mirror, that doesn’t try to hide my ugly mole but doesn’t understate my handsome beard either. It lets you connect to yourself; lets you deliberate on things that you are not clear about regarding yourself. It doesn’t always give you the right answers but it helps weed out the wrong ones.

Sometimes, writing can be like scratching a long standing itch in your back. It is so relieving. It just lets you relax from all the things that are bogging you down.

Finally, I write because it helps me hide inside my tortoise shell and lets me be myself. I write because it lets me be naked, it allows me to look inside me to my rawest form and not be disgusted by it. Untouched by the outside world, I can create my own universe and my own laws of physics.

Back to you, Toastmaster.

This speech was given by Toastmaster Shashank Poudel, who is a member a Himalaya Toastmasters Club Nepal. The speech was from Competent Communicator Manual: Project 4 - How to say it. The speech objective were to eliminate jargons, to choose grammars and words that appeal to the sense and to choose grammars and words that communicate clearly.